Seneca Building renamed Marilyn Horne Hall

Marilyn Horne

As a tribute to the renowned opera star and Bradford native, Marilyn Horne, the Pitt-Bradford changed the name of its six-story downtown property from the Seneca Building to Marilyn Horne Hall.


            The University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees approved the name change Friday in Pittsburgh.


            In May Pitt-Bradford will open a 3,400 square-foot museum in the hall dedicated to Horne, who donated her archives to the University of Pittsburgh.


            “Ms. Horne is beside herself with joy and excitement that a building in the place of her birth is being named in her honor,” said Dr. Livingston Alexander, president of Pitt-Bradford.


            “She is truly humbled by the honor and looks forward to joining us on May 6 for the dedication and opening of the Marilyn Horne Museum and Exhibit Center in Marilyn Horne Hall.”


            Horne, who is Bradford's most famous native daughter, was born in 1934. Her father, Bentz Horne, encouraged her to pursue her musical dreams. She moved with her family to Long Beach, California, when she was 11 and made her debut when she was 20 at the Los Angeles Opera Guild. Following her father's death in 1956 in Bradford, she traveled Europe, performing in many productions and receiving rave reviews.


            Horne was considered one of the world's premiere mezzo sopranos for more than 40 years, becoming not only a star of the opera world, but also an ambassador to pop culture through appearances on “The Odd Couple,” “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” “Carol Burnett and Friends” and “Sesame Street.”


            The ground-floor Marilyn Horne Museum and Exhibit Center will feature replica costumes, displays that capture the highlights of Horne's life and career, and interactive features that teach visitors about music and opera.


            Marilyn Horne Hall is located on Marilyn Horne Way, which borders Veterans Square on the west end of Main Street in Bradford.


            The Independent Order of Odd Fellows built the building as its meeting hall in 1932. In 1985, Dr. Paul Keverline, co-owner of Seneca Eye Surgeons, purchased the building. After Keverline died in a plane crash in 2002, his business partner, Dr. Robert Weiss of Warren, and his wife, Mary, donated the building to Pitt-Bradford.


            In addition to the new museum, the ground floor will house a gift shop, café, meeting space and new offices for the Bradford Creative and Performing Arts Center. Upper floors are occupied by the Division of Continuing Education and Regional Development, the Center for Rural Health, and private tenants.