Our Story

For over 100 years, The Sheldon has been beloved and adored. At times, it’s even been saved by community heroes whose generosity is only matched by their passion. We’ve remained steadfast in our belief that shared creative experiences are the ties that bind. That true human expression transcends age, class, race and creed.

Our History

  • 1912

    The Sheldon Memorial, designed by the noted 1904 World’s Fair architect Louis Spiering, opens its doors in October 1912 as the home of the Ethical Society of St. Louis. Named for Walter Sheldon, a founding member of the Ethical Society in St. Louis, notable speakers include Thurgood Marshall, Buckminster Fuller, Martha Gellhorn and Margaret Mead. The St. Louis League of Women Voters is founded in the Greenroom (then used as the Ethical Society library).

  • 1964-1984

    The Ethical Society moves to St. Louis County and The Sheldon becomes a community center and music venue, changing hands a few times. First, a former singer with the Duke Ellington Orchestra purchases the facility, transforming The Sheldon into a church and the site of many glorious jazz and gospel concerts. Then, a California attorney with a love of chamber music purchases The Sheldon at the urging of the Paganini String Quartet, saving the building from possible demolition.

  • 1986

    The Sheldon Concert Hall becomes a concert venue.

  • 1988

    The non-profit Sheldon Arts Foundation is formed.

  • 1991-1998

    The Foundation purchases The Sheldon Concert Hall and the adjoining Annex and begins presenting a curated season of jazz, folk and classical concerts. The first official season, in 1994, includes 15 concerts.

  • 1998-2001

    The Sheldon completes renovation of the Annex and creates The Sheldon Art Galleries and sculpture garden. The 500-seat Louis Spiering Room opens on the third floor of the Annex.

    In 2001 new stained glass windows designed by Rodney Winfield were installed by Emil Frei & Sons in the Sheldon Concert Hall.

  • 2019

    Steward Family Plaza, encompassing a walk way and vertical garden on the west side of The Sheldon, opens. The Sheldon presents over 350 events each year in the concert hall, art galleries, Ballroom and Louis Spearing Room.

  • Today

    We aspire to remain a pocket of expressive experiences that helps our city shine—a destination that encapsulates all that we collectively stand for. Long live Arts Without Borders.