The Austin History Center's mission is to procure, preserve, present and provide the historical records that make up Austin's unique story.
In 1998, after years of struggle to find a suitable space for the world-class performing arts showcased by Austin talent, citizens of voted to renovate the Lester E. Palmer Auditorium. An organization called Arts Center Stage took on the project and received a gift of $20 million from Joe and Teresa Lozano Long to make it happen. As a matter of fact, the construction of the Long Center was exclusively funded by private contributions. Most of the donors were already supporters of the arts in Austin. The Long Center is a testament to how much Austin cherishes and supports the arts community in its city. The building was designed by a team of local and international designers, and construction finished in 2008.
The Longs are known philanthropists in Austin and all over Texas. They met as schoolteachers in Alice, Texas, which is near Corpus Christi, and have been married for almost 60 years. The couple started a foundation in 1999, specifically to benefit the arts. At the time it was called the Joe R. and Teresa L. Long Foundation for the Arts. Since then they have expanded their mission to include breaking barriers to education and renamed it the Long Foundation.
As avid givers, they have donated millions of dollars over the years to arts, education, and social causes. They're a true Austin power couple. Joe and Teresa both came from humble beginnings, and in addition to giving money, they're also generous with their time and talents. They both attended the University of Texas at Austin, where Mrs. Long was the first Latina to earn a doctorate in education, and Mr. Long earned his law degrees. Their fortune comes primarily from Mr. Long's success in banking.
Nearly 100% of the material from the demolished Palmer Auditorium was used in the construction of the Long Center including the distinctive green and brown panels that decorate the exterior. The builders also preserved the ring beam structure that supported the previous structure's roof.
Of course one can't get the full experience at The Long Center without partaking of the main reason it was built -- the arts! The founding resident companies are Austin Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Austin, and the Austin Lyric Opera. In 2012 Austin Shakespeare, Pollyanna Theatre Company, Conspirare, a choral group, and Tapestry Dance also made the Long Center their home. With such a rich array of artistic offerings, The Long Center is a mecca for those wishing to partake of the finest entertainment in Austin.
Cover Photo: Full view of the Center by JD Hancock via Flickr.