The Woodminster Amphitheater is an outdoor performance facility in Joaquin Miller Park. Built as one of the WPA projects, the art deco amphitheater was designed by Edward T. Foulkes working with a team of designers. Some of the early design work was done by Howard Gilkey, who also designed the Cleveland Cascade. In 1976, Arthur Navlet explained that “Unfortunately, [Gilkey] was denied the pleasure of building it because he expected fabulous fees for his services.” The main architect was Foulkes, and the landscape architect was William Penn Mott, Jr.
Dedicated March 5, 1941 as a memorial to California writers, the City of Oakland Parks Department started presenting musicals every summer at the amphitheater under the direction of John and Margaret Falls until their retirement at the end of the 1966 season. A great friend of the Falls family, Joaquin Miller's daughter Juanita had a special reserved seat to at any show she wished to attend. Members of the Oakland Symphony under the direction of Carl Kalash provided musical accompaniment. Since 1967 Woodminster Amphitheater and Cascades has been home to the Woodminster Summer Musicals.
The cornerstone was laid in May 1940. According to a Tribune article, construction was going to require: 111,712 board feet of lumber, 5863 tons of concrete aggregate, 13,404 sacks of cement, 247,215 pounds of steel, and 16,020 feet of conduit. The cascade required 4889 feet of water lines.
The stairs leading up to the was designed to be a memorial to California writers. Each step is made from one ton of California basalt, and each flight of the stairs named for a poet or writer. The two large statues flanking the top of the cascade were designed by a WPA artist. One represents a mother and child, the other represents a child and its teacher. 1
Links and References
- Woodminster Summer Musicals official website
- Woodminster Amphitheater Oakland Local
- Woodminster: Oakland’s "Cathedral in the Woods"
Woodminster Theater: Cathedral in the Woods Oaktown Art
Cornerstone For Miller Theater Laid Oakland Tribune May 17, 1940