On Tuesday, December 5, 1871, author and satirist Mark Twain spoke at Auburn’s Academy of Music. He delivered his popular lecture "Artemus Ward."
On Wednesday, January 21, 1885, Robert Green Ingersoll, America’s foremost freethought orator, delivered his controversial lecture "Orthodoxy" here.
The Academy of Music could seat about 1400 persons. It stood on North Street just north of Genesee Street, about 200 feet north of the Orestes Brownson newspaper office location, today’s Phoenix Building. It replaced Corning Hall, one of Auburn's first large assembly halls, on the same site. The date of its construction is unknown, but must have occurred between November 1868 and December 1871.
In 1889, four years after Ingersoll trod its stage, the Academy of Music was remodeled and renamed the Burtis Opera House. In 1904 it was renamed the Burtis Auditorium. In 1913 the Burtis Auditorium was converted into a motion picture theater, the Burtis Grand. The Burtis Grand operated for several years, then closed. in 1930 the building was renovated and reopened as the Capitol Theater. The Capitol was razed in the 1970s as part of so-called urban renewal. The site is now occupied by a Brutalist Modern concrete commercial structure and its parking lot, which marks the actual site where the Academy of Music stood.