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Return with us to the History of 1969-1974, The Building Years, written by Virginia Hailey

In May of 1968, Dr. Max Hirschfelder had called together a group of civic minded Centralians to discuss the needs of the Society and to ask for their guidance and help. It was decided that a massive fund-raising drive would have to be held in the near audience of the great need that the Cultural Society would have for their help. Also the comprehensive brochures appeared at the Candlelight Christmas Program.
When J.F. Balderson became President, he appointed committees and designated the second week in September as the first period of fund-raising.
On November 5, 1969, Attorney John Page Wham drew up articles of incorporation for the Society. At this time, the Centralia Cultural Society received its very own Social Security number. Hereafter in certain govermental quarters it was to be known as 23-736-1689. Wham and Attorney William Stephens, also made needed changes in the constitution and by May 13, 1970, had secured a new State Charter.

People standing where the stage was to be built.

On March 16, 1970, J.F. Balderson made a building progress report to the public. At that time, he reported that $13.000 had been paid on building fund pledges and another $17,000 was due on pledges. The cost of the building would be approximately $80.000.
According to Balderson, the Cultural Center was to have a stage, dressing rooms, multipurpose rooms, and an auditorium seating 200
The following construction industries and unions had volunteered to donate either labor or materials to the building project.


BESANT ELECTRIC - Electrical wiring
BLAISE, INC - Plumbing and Heating
POWELL-BELTZ - Building erection
ROY ROSS - Excavation and dirt work
SMITH BROTHERS - Concrete finishers
STOVER BROS - Building
SUEY AND RUPPEL - Concrete finishers
W.O. CONTRACTORS - Excavating and dirt work
LEAR-SIEGLER - Heating and Air Conditioning

Illinois Bell Telephone had made a pledge of $500.00 and had announced that the covers of the new 1970 telephone directories would carry an architect's sketch of the new building.
With all of the help and money pledged, ground breaking was scheduled to begin "as soon as the April showers dry and the freeze disappears completely from the ground."
Balderson also warned that progress might seem to be slow at first because much of the donated labor and equipment must be used on Saturdays only, Which was not a regular working day in the construction industry. He optimistically set July 1, 1970, as the date when the exterior of the building would be completed.
The April musical was Oklahoma, again produced and directed by Robert Cover. This year seventeen CTHS students were members of the cast in addition to the regulars who had appeared in other musicals. Freda Reichmann and Bill DuPerrieu, had appeared in every musical to date.
The Centralia Sentinel reported that it took 2000 man hours to produce one musical. Another interesting sidelight is that adult tickets were now $2.00, with students paying $1.50.
Many family groups participated in Oklahoma. There were two husband and wife teams, Dick and Jan Logullo and John and Nancy Chillson.There were two father and daughter teams, Ken and Denise McCall and Bill and Debbie DuPerrieu. Two mother and daughter teams were Mary and Carol June Riddle and Bonnie and Pat Petrea. There was one father and son team, Bud and Buddy McMillan. There was also a brother and sister team, Donald and Dorothy Coleman.
The Palette and Brush Club held an Art Show in June in the old Post Office Building and sponsored an Art Fair in October.
In October the children's play, "Jack and the Giant" was held in St. Mary's Hall. Jeanne Jones and Linda Simmons were the directors.
The Candlelight Christmas Concert closed out the year's activities. This year there were so many patrons that their names had to be set in microscopic print to get them all on the back cover of the program book.
On January 29, 30, and 31, the Little Theatre group presented "Ten Little Indians" under the direction of Larry Fortney. The significance of this drama was that it was the very first production to be staged in the Cultural Center.
In February, the Cultural Society and Kaskaskia College were sponsors of "The Hollow Crown," produced by an Eastern Illinois University drama group on tour. Billed as a theatrical experience, a native Centralian, Mike Boyll, was a member of the cast.
Early in April, Judith Cover, daughter of the well known director, Robert Cover, presented a recital under the auspices of the Cultural Society. A senior at Indiana School of Music at the time, Ms Cover played the oboe and English Horn. This was the first recital given at the new Cultural Center.
"The Sound of Music" was the April musical. Robert Cover was again the Director and was assisted by Larry Fortney, Associate Director, J.T. Alexander, Music Director, Martha Heinzmann, Choral Director, Joan Moore, Choreographer and Jan Logullo, Children's Drama Coach.
Following the show's last performance, Cover was presented with an engraved plaque to be placed inside the new building. The plaque which read "The Robert L. Cover Hall" honored him for his many contributions to the growth of the Centralia Cultural Society.
In May, John F. Murray was elected President, succeeding J. F. Balderson. There were 24 people on the Board of Directors by this time.
Activities planned for the summer included a violin recital by the Suzuki Class, a separate string instrument recital featuring Theresa Stephens and Jean Dexter, and a third recital featuring a four member ensemble playing music ranging from Medieval to Baroque. The members used early wind instruments, a cello and a piano.
In June, the Palette and Brush Club held an Art Fair on the Locust Street Mall. In October they held their annual Art Fair in the Mother's Bakery building.
During June, July and August, a series of workships was held at the Cultural Center. They included make-up, ballet, scenery, dance, speaking, jazz, rhythm and modern dance.
A duo piano recital was held in the Cultural Center on September 12. Reverend M. M. Lucas and Dorothy Plassman were the pianists. Margaret Sapp, accompanied by Nancy Goff, was soprano soloist.

One of the big events of 1971 was the formal opening of the Cultural Center on Sunday, September 19. The activities featured a concert by the Centralia Philharmonic Orchestra and art displays for the Palette and Brush Club.
Guest artists with the Orchestra included Judith Cover, Martha Crumb, Jacques Ibert, and Barbara McKellar.
The second part of the formal opening took place the following Sunday, September 26 with a concert presented by the Centralia Choral Society. The concert included selections from Student Prince, My Fair Lady, State Fair, The King and I, Fiddler on the Roof, Carnival and New Moon.
The fall production in October was "The Glass Menagerie," a Tennessee Williams play. Robert Cover was the Director with his assistant Dr. Richard Logullo.
In October, the Cultural Society sponsored a booth at the Halloween Parade for the very first time. On the Sunday following the Halloween Parade, Robert Ober gave a poetry reading at the Cultural Center. He read poems of his own composition as well as works of other Mid-Western poets.
In November, Jan Logullo directed the colorful and entertaining children's play, "The Wizard of Oz."
The activities of 1971 concluded with the presentation of the annual Candlelight Christmas Concert.
Late in 1971, Mr. and Mrs. Ben Ober, Anna B. Smith and Bill DuPerrieu attended a meeting of the Illinois Arts Council in Bloomington. Seventeen communities were represented, with Centralia ranking next to the smallest in population. The Illinois Arts Council had a budget of $55,000 for the fiscal year. Organizations such as the Cultural Society could apply for financial help or services.
On January 19, 1972, Leonard Pas and Keith England, represented the Illinois Arts Council and visited the Centralia Cultural Center. The purpose of their presence in Centralia was to explain the function of the Arts Council. They believed that they might be able to arrange sponsorships of workshops in Theatre, Director Training, Dance, Poetry, Art and Music.
On February 19, Kaskaskia College and the Centralia Cultural Society sponsored G.B. Shaw's "Heartbreak House." The play was presented at the Cultural Center, using a cast of characters from the Theater Department of Eastern Illinois University.
On February 27, 1972, the SIU Male Glee club and Southern Girl Singers gave another benefit performance for the Cultural Society. The group gave their performance at Trinity Lutheran Church and were so well received that they were given two encores.
On March 10, the Illinois Arts Council, with the auspices of the Cultural Society, Presented a puppet show at the Cultural Center. The was entitled "Gulliver '72 and had body puppets eight feet tall.
On March 24, members of the Indiana University Woodwind Quintet gave a performance at the Cultural Center. Ms. Judy Cover played the oboe with the group.
The spring musical was "Hello Dolly." Musicals were still held in the Centralia High School Auditorium since the audiences were so large. Reflecting the inflationary trend, adult tickets were now $2.50 and student tickets $1.75. For the first time costumes were the original costumes that were worn in New York. They were rented from a firm in New Yourk that supplied costumes for Broadway hits.
In July, "Company '72," a group of young adults in the Society, presented "Story Time," a new and original musical entertainment, directed by Mike Boyll. This was an adaptation of well-known fairy tales and children's stories.
In August, The Choral group presented a songfest, "Music for Fun," at the Cultural Center. It was directed by J.T. Alexander.
On October 14, the SIU Touring Theater presented a children's play, "Gildersleeve Magic," at the Cultural Center.
The twelfth annual Christmas Concert was held in the High School auditorium on December 3. J.T. Alexander directed both the Chorus and the Orchestra with Margaret Sapp directing the Children's Chorus. Two prominent soloists, Hubert Norville, baritone, and Margaret Sapp, soprano, were featured in selections from Schubert's "Mass in G." Loren Gunnison played a trumpet solo in "The Trumpeter's Lullaby." The narrators were Rev. R.A. Lippmann and Robert Kingsbury.
On December 9, Eastern Illinois University's Theater Group presented Stephen Vincent Benet's version of "John Brown's Body." Two Centralians, Bobby Hobbs and Mike Boyll were members of the group.
The first activity of 1973, was the presentation of "You Touched Me." Robert Cover again directed this romantic comedy by Tennessee Williams.
In February the SIU Male Glee Club returned to Centralia. They were sponsored by the Cultural Society and presented a concert in the First Baptist Church.
In May of 1973, the Little Theatre Players celebrated ten years of successful musicals when they presented "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." It was estimated that more than 40,000 people had seen the nine previous musicals.
A dozen persons had participated in all ten of the musicals. Pictured in the Centralia Evening Sentinel, they were identified as Frieda Reichmann, J.T. Alexander, Larry Fortney, Virginia Rohrbacher, Marilyn Gluck, Jeanne Jones, Jack Boucher, Bill DuPerrieu, Helen Stover, Eleanor Glenn, Albert Marshall and Anna B Smith. Jeanne Jones and Larry Fortney were co-directors this year.
In June, the Cultural Society's Summer Company presented an off Broadway musical, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown." The summer company consisted of young people between the ages of 12-21. They composed the entire cast, music group, crews and production staff. Twenty-one year old Mike Boyll was the Director.
In July, Todd Booth, a consultant with the Illinois Arts Council, conducted a theatre workshop at the Cultural Center. The sessions were lectures, demonstrations, and discussions dealing with techniques, creativity, directing, and problems of the theater.
On August 18, and 19, the Choral Society directed by Nancy Goff, gave a program of various selections taken from the previous ten spring musicals. Soloists were Dr.Kenneth McCall, Marilyn Gluck, Bud Cozean and Sharron Ervin.
On September 1, the Quincy Community Theater presented "Butterflies are Free" at the Cultural Center. The tour was sponsored through a traveling grant from the Illinois Arts Council.
On September 14, an unusual type of musical program was presented at the Center. Three well-known singers Margaret Sapp, soprano, Hubert Norville, baritone and Ed Anderson, tenor, combined their talents to give an evening of light entertainment.
Later in the month, the Little Theatre Players presented "A Company of Wayward Saints", a burlesque satirizing people who are trying to find their identities. A newcomer to production, Edward Smith was the Director.
In October the cast of "Wayward Saints" went on tour performing for the Quincy Little Theater Players.
In November, the organization brought SIU Touring Theater to Centralia for two performances of "Livin' De Life", a play based on the stories of Uncle Remus.
Also in November the Cultural Society, through a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, hosted the St. Louis Symphony Woodwind Quintet. The group gave four concerts for elementary school students.
On December 2, the thirteenth annual Christmas Concert was held. Rev. Hubert Temme was the narrator that year.
The activities for 1974 began on January 13, when Joan Behrens and Nancy Goff presented a duo-piano recital. The program included compositions from the Baroque and Romantic periods and the Twentieth Century.
Also in January, the Little Theatre Players presented the hilarious three-act comedy, "Never Too Late." This was another Rovert Cover production. The large audience turnouts made it necessary to hold it over for two more performances than had been scheduled.
The Robert Kingsbury Male Glee Club made another appearance in Centralia in March. Their repertoire included classical, contemporary, and standard literature.
In April the Choral Society presented a cantata, "The Seven Last Words of Christ", at the First Christian Church. Mike Persenaire was the conductor.
The eleventh spring musical was "Anything Goes". The cast of characters spanned an age range from eight to seventy-six years. Gentry Trotter, Critic-at-Large for KMOX, attended the opening night performance. David Johnson from Centralia High School directed this Cole Porter classic.
In September the Cultural Society sponsored an abridged version of "Madame Butterfly", presented by the Marjorie Lawrence Opera Theatre. In November, they also sponsored "People of Notes," given at the Cultural Center by the Eastern Illinois University's Fine Arts Department.
At the Halloween parade, the Cultural Society's entry, "At the Gates of Troy," was a first place winner.
On November 21, Angus Randolph, representing the Illinois Arts Council, met with the officers of the Society. The meeting resulted in a discussion of the projects and goals of both organizations.
The fourteenth Christmas Concert was held on December 8. J.T. Alexander directed the Orchestra, Mike Persinaire directed the Chorus and Margaret Sapp directed the group from the area schools.
The year of 1974 closed its doors to the cultural calendar in mid-December with a jazz quartet from St. Louis presenting a program to 1300 elementary school students. The program, entitled "The History of Jazz," was made possible through a grant from the Illinois Arts Council.

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