When Port Huron civic leaders began planning for the communitys future after World War II, wide support emerged for a convention facility. Proponents argued that such a community addition, playing up the areas water attractions and easy access to Canada via the not-yet-ten-year-old Blue Water Bridge, would bring tens of thousands of dollars into the area. In 1953, however, Port Huron taxpayers dashed the hopes of convention-center planners when they turned down a proposal at the polls for a city built facility. Two years later, an entity then unknown to most residents-The McMorran Foundation, set up in 1944 By Andrew J. Murphy; his wife, Emma McMorran Murphy, and her sister, Clara McMorran Mackenzie-offered a gift of $1.2 million to build a municipal auditorium in downtown Port Huron.
The announcement by the family members and the two other foundation trustees-Alex J. Theisen and J. Grant Moore-electrified the community, and a wide area beyond it. The foundation had been named for business pioneer and early-century Congressman Henry G. McMorran, father or Mrs. Murphy and Mrs. Mackenzie. Mr. Theisen was a long time business associate and counselor to the McMorran family. Mr. Moore was a local insurance broker.
The auditorium gift announcement seemed too good to be true, yet it was true. It also was the beginning of a series of gifts from the McMorran and Murphy families, individually and through the foundation, that would total $3.5 million over the next decade to provide a facility that would evoke envy far and wide. McMorran Complex today consists of one of the finest community auditoriums in the country and two arenas that not only provide ice for hockey and other skating but which have become centers for a myriad of non-ice programs and activities.
McMorrans Main Arena was home to the Port Huron Flags of the International Hockey League from 1962 to 1981. It has been the home of North American Silver Stick Hockey finals since 1963, drawing youth hockey teams from all over the continent each January. It also has served as the training camp for the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League & the (UHL) Port Huron Border Cats for 6 years. The Main Arena is currently the home ice for the Port Huron Beacons of the United Hockey League, Port Huron Minor Hockey Association & the Port Huron Figure Skating Club.
McMorran Complex is also a community center. The Auditorium Lobby was designed to accommodate art exhibits, after-performance receptions and similar activities. The complex is home to the Port Huron Minor Hockey Association and provides facilities for such varied activities as International Symphony Orchestra concerts, Port Huron Civic Theatre presentations, Port Huron Figure Skating Club programs, Festival of Trees hospital benefit, high school and community college graduations, craft and recreational shows and a host of other events and activities for audiences of all ages.