Ernst Nature Theatre

Ernst Nature Theatre is an open air amphitheater and earthen stage originally built in 1921-22 and rebuilt in 1996. The Theater was a gift to Western College for Women from Richard P. Ernst, a U.S. Senator from Kentucky and member of the Western College Board of Trustees for many years.

The first play was presented here on Tree Day in 1922. Tree Day was a Western tradition begun in 1890 by President Leila S. McKee. Performance of a Senior play was added to the day's events beginning in 1902, and the play remained a Tree Day tradition and was expanded to students from any class in 1938. In addition to hosting this annual celebration, Ernst Nature Theatre was also used for concerts, festivals and other outdoor events by the college. In recent history, the theatre has been used for WestFest, a community music festival, as well as Western Alumnae Weekend tours and other outdoor events.


Ernst Nature Theatre has the following features:

  • Seats 600
  • Electric hookup