Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. began making plans for an amphitheater to go in Brightwood, D.C.
1947 - August 5, 1950
Carter T. Barron expanded upon the initial plans for the amphitheater and decided building this would be a good way to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Washington, D.C. The drawings were approved and building began. The original name of the amphitheater was the Sesquicentennial Amphitheater.
President Truman Dedicates the Sesquicentennial Amphitheater
August 4, 1950
Opening of the Amphitheater
August 5, 1950
The amphitheater opening with a Paul Green play called "Faith of Our Fathers" dedicated to George Washington.
Death of Carter T. Barron
November 16, 1950
President Truman Rededicates the Amphitheater
May 25, 1951
President Truman rededicated the Sesquicentennial Amphitheater to the Carter Barron Amphitheater after Carter T. Barron's death.
Military Bands and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo
The Carter Barron Amphitheater started hosting other acts besides the original play that was performed. Some of these first new acts included military bands and the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.
Under New Contract
Washington Festival, Inc., run by Constance Bennett Coulter took over. However, the shows were so poorly attended that the Washington Festival lost about $200,000 and were only allowed to stay for one year.
Under New Contract Part 2
1954 - 1975
The Feld Brothers took over and brought the National Symphony Orchestra as well as a variety of musicals to the amphitheater. These new shows saved the amphitheater from the decline in admission while Constance Bennett Coulter was in charge.
The Feld Brothers switched away from ballet and added more music shows. Acts that came to the amphitheater included: Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Ethel Merman, Nat King Cole, Harry Belafonte, and a variety of others.
Death of a Brother
One of the Feld Brothers died, so his wife took over the amphitheater. When this occurred, the acts coming to the amphitheater moved into more soul and rock'n'roll such as Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and Ray Charles.
Under New Contract Part 3
Cella-Door Dimensions took control of the amphitheater. The company wanted to attract a more diverse group of people, so they booked acts including: Bruce Springsteen, Shakespeare Festival, U.S. Navy Band, and the D.C. Black Repertory Co.
National Park Service Takes Control
1977 - Present
The National Park Service(NPS) hosted, and continues to host, a large variety of acts across many genres. Many of the shows are free of charge as the NPS strives to follow the initial mission of the amphitheater set by Carter T. Barron which is to "provide quality performances to all residents in Washington, D.C."
Renovations of the Amphitheater
Curtain and Track
1965 - January 1, 1965
The original amphitheater was built without a curtain and track, so these two amenities were added to the stage.
1970 - 1993
The Feld Brothers added a circus tent over part of the stage of the amphitheater.
Restrooms, Roofs, and Electrical
1990 - 1995
The restrooms at the amphitheater were renovated along with many of the roofs, and the electrical systems on and behind the stage were upgraded for better sound quality.
Canvas Roof System
The Shakespeare Theater and the National Park Service changed the circus tent to a canvas roof and framework.
2003 - 2004
All of the seats in the amphitheater were upgraded and drainage around and within the seats of the amphitheater was refined. The electrical systems were also replaced again to more recent and higher quality technology.
2017 - Present
The stage at the amphitheater has rusting and cracks and needs to be re-done. The amphitheater is currently closed for these renovations, and could possibly stay closed for five or more years so that the renovations can be completed.