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
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
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
MARION COUNTY READY-MIX - Concrete
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The first activity of 1973, was the presentation of "You Touched
Me." Robert Cover again directed this romantic comedy by Tennessee
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
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