History of the Bowl

Designed by renowned architects Austen Pierpont and Roy Wilson, “Ojai Festival Bowl” was built in what was then called “Civic Park” in 1957 for a cost of $12,000. By the 1970s, the Bowl became known as Libbey Bowl when Civic Park turned into Libbey Park.

1952: The Ojai Festivals holds first outdoor concert at the Ojai Civic Center Park now Libbey Park. A temporary platform and large canvas tarp are brought in to serve as stage for the two concerts conducted by Thor Johnson.

1954: Ojai Festivals builds permanent outdoor theater in Ojai Civic Center Park. Festivals holds first concert in new theater on Sunday, May 23.

1955: Roy Wilson and Austin Pierpont begin plans to construct a permanent Bowl and Shell.

Concerts at Libbey Park before the Bowl 1954: The original Bowl before the shell and seats were installed. The above picture was taken from the rear of the canvas-draped stage, looking out over the semi-circular seats. The new shell at the Civic Center bowl starts to take shape.
An outdoor conference for construction of the shell studying plans for the construction are (left to right) Lynn Stewart, Phillip C. McConnell, mayor Bob King, Mrs. Alvin Rishel, Glwyn Chase, Austen Pierpont, Festivals director Lawrence Morton and F. Bailey Vanderhoef. A do-it-yourself project is undertaken by a group of volunteers who are repairing and remodeling Civic Center bowl in preparation for the 1956 Ojai Festivals.

Shown: F. Bailey Vanderhoef, Fred Hardiker, Frank Ross..

Completed Bowl 1957: Ojai Festival completes the Bowl. It is inaugurated with the west coast performance of Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land, conducted by Copland himself.

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