1966-1968 1969-1974 1975-1976 1977-1978 1979-1982
1983-1986 1987-1990 1991-1993 1994-1996 1997-1999
2000-2002 2003-2004 2005-2006 2007-2008 2009-2010

History 1966-1968

The Centralia Cultural Society has been serving the Centralia area since 1961. It's mission is to connect arts with the community and the community with the arts. We do this with our four member groups: Little Theatre Players, Choral Society, Philharmonic Orchestra, and Palette & Brush Club. Our membership consists of over 600 volunteers of the four groups and 350 patrons who provide financial support.
     Centralia, IL. (Population 14,000) is located in Southern Illinois and the nearest metropolitan area is St. Louis (approximately 70 miles to the west.) The average income of the residents of this area ($22,000) restricts their access to the arts of a metropolitan area. In 1971 the Society constructed an Arts Center.

Return with us to the History of 1966--1968 the Years of Expansion- as written by Virginia Hailey

The activities of 1966 began on March 19-20 when a children's play "Let's Go to the Moon," was staged in the Centralia H.S. Auditorium. Anne Duncan, a newcomer, directed it with assistance from Jeanne Jones and Debbie De Perrieu. "Brigadoon" was the spring musical of 1966. Robert Cover, Larry Fortney and J.T. Alexander were again the directors for this well received April event. Though area artists had held exhibits for a number of years, the Palette & Brush Club was not formed until May 4, 1966. It became the fourth segment of the Centralia Cultural Society. Neil Puffer and Marion Veltman had successfully formed a group of local artists into an organization for those interested in painting and learning from others a few months previously. This became the nucleus for the Palette & Brush Club. The thirty-three members of the group established the custom of holding two Art Fairs each year. The spring Fair was open to anyone to exhibit works of creative and artistic interest. The Fall Fair was planned to be held in conjunction with the Halloween activities.
Later, in 1966, Don Ross, was brought to Centralia to conduct two classes in painting one day each week. The group also held "paint-in-sessions" each Thursday night.
"Music Under the Stars", featuring the Orchestra and chorus, was again held in June.
In August, Jeanne Jones assisted a group of high school and college age young people with the production of "Tomboy Wonder."
The P & B Club sponsored an Art Fair on Oct. 21-23, the same weekend as "Tom Sawyer, a children's play was directed by Ann Duncan.
The sixth annual Candlelight Christmas Concert was held on Dec. 4, 1966. This year the orchestra, chorus, and children's groups were joined by the Salem Community Chorus. The orchestra was accompanied by a group of seven bell-ringers from the First Christian Church. The orchestra had 29 members, the chorus had 60 voices. Forty-eight patrons were listed on the back cover of the program.
In 1967, the Palette & Brush Club began the year's activities. They held running exhibits of ten selected paintings at both the City Hall and the Centralia Public Library throughout the early months of the year.
The Fourth Musical, "The Red Mill," was presented on April 14, 15, 22, and 23. Robert Cover, Larry Fortney, and J. T. Alexander were again in charge of production.
The first Children's workshop was held from July 24 to August 4. Children who participated also auditioned for "Hansel & Gretel". They play was produced on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, under the direction of jeanne Jones.
At the annual meeting, Dr. Max Hirschfeld was elected the fourth President of the Society. If the three preceding him had had the task of organization and establishing traditions, his task was to be one of fund raising and finding a permanent home for the Centralia Cultural Society. However, this gargantuan project was to extend over a period of the next four years.
Once again, the Philharmonic Orchestra and the Choral Society each gave two separate concerts in addition to the June "Music Under the Stars" treat.
The Candlelight Christmas Concert under the direction of J.T. Alexander brought a close to 1967's activities.
The year 1968 provided the same high quality entertainment as the preceding years had. "Music Man" was selected as the April musical. In addition to the established directors, a new choreographer, Joan Moore, was added to the staff.
Sara Schnake helped the children produce "Puss N' Boots" in September. In November, Dr. Kenneth McCall directed "If a Man Answers.".
The Art department sponsored a tri-city Art Fair in November at the Centralia American Legion Hall. Artists from Centralia, Mt. Vernon, and Vandalia participated, bring with them large crowds from their home communities to view their work.
"Music Under the Stars", featuring the Centralia Philharmonic Orchestra and the Centralia Choral Society, was held at Foundation Park in September. These two groups also had given individual concerts at other times during the year.
One other group of very talented musicians had joined the other performers in Centralia by this time. In January, the Suzuki violinists had been organized by Gladys Ober and Theresa Stephens. Sixteen children, ranging in age from 5 to 9 were trained by the Suzuki Method, a system of learning to play the violin before learning to read music.
The group made their debut on the first Saturday in December when they provided entertainment at the annual Christmas banquet for employees of Kaskaskia College and their spouses.
Edith Boston and Rose Marie Malan were program coordinators for the eighth annual Christmas Candlelight Concert. In addition to the traditional performing groups, a segment of the program featured the new Suzuki violinists.
A feature article in the Centralia Evening Sentinel introduced the many newcomers to the Choral Society. One of the newcomers, Hubert Norville, served as baritone soloist in the 1968 performance. Norville was at that time a professor of voice at James Millikin University in Decatur. He also served the University as Artistic Director for Opera and Musical Productions.
Norville had sung in Broadway shows and had been the lead singer in a London production of "Fiddler on the Roof".
Other newcomers to the Choral Society that year were LaVerne Poninski, Rozella Barr, Gloria Andrus, Ellen Mohr, and Elaine Chapman. New male vocalists were Jerry Sanders, Rev. Edward Anderson, Mike Frazier, John Bryant, John Lowey, Dale Hixenbaugh, and Robert Wesner.
The Philharmonic Orchestra also had several new members who were performing for the very first time at the Christmas Concert. William Ryenolds, Don Beaty, Sydney Kelly, J.R. Murphy, Annette Cortelyou, Kathryn Sue Kornhorst, Julie Brennan, and Norman Sinclair.
A colorful brochure was also inserted in the program booklets telling of the urgent need the Cultural Society had for its own building. The brochure also stated that a financial drive to raise the necessary funds would begin in 1969.
(To be continued.)

Go To The Next Chapter Of History