History 1977 1978
Plans for Expansion
At the Annual Meeting of the Society, Jerry Hartley
was elected President. During the business session there was also
a discussion of the need for building an addition to the Cultural
Center. However, these plans were not to reach fruition for another
four years, and then they were to be made possible only by a magnificent
bequest from a Centralia citizen who during her lifetime had not
been a part of the Centralia Cultural SocietyBeulah Puffer.
In late December and early January, the Palette and Brush Club had
exhibits at Universal Packaging Company and World Color Press.
The Little Theatre Players presented Barefoot in the Park
on January 14, 15, 16, 20, 21 and 22 at the Cultural Center. Sherm
Doolen directed this three act hilarity.
Topics in Community Theatre, a one day workshop, was
held on Saturday, February 26, 1977. Sponsored jointly by the Cultural
Society and the Illinois Arts Council, the workshop was designed
to meet some of the basic informational needs of Community Theatre.
Workshop topics included lighting and sets, technical crews, selecting,
developing, directing a play, and public relations. This was another
of the many invaluable services provided by the Illinois Arts Council.
The Philharmonic Orchestra presented a Variety Concert on March
20 at the Center. The Orchestra, under the direction of James Loomis,
featured numbers from The King and I, Mary Poppins, Man of La Mancha,
They also played Hugo Alfrens The Swedish Polka,
and Scott Joplins, Maple Leaf Rag.
On April 24, the Choral Society, directed by Joan Wham, presented
Brahms A German Requiem. Mary Lou Wiggs and David
Stedelin played an arrangement for two pianos by Leonard Van Camp.
Members of the Philharmonic Orchestra also participated in a chamber
group which accompanied the 55 voice chorus. The concert was held
at the First Baptist Church.
The Little Theatre Players presented the mystery farce, The
Gazebo, in May at the Cultural Center. Marge Matthews was
In early May, Merle Rogers, an officer in the First National Bank,
notified the Board of Directors that Beulah Puffer, who had died
in February, had made the Centralia Cultural Society the principal
benefactor of her sizeable estate. Rogers indicated that after all
other bequests had been made and administrative costs paid, the
money was to be held in trust, with annual interest checks going
to the Society. At the current average rate of interest at that
time, he estimated that the Cultural Society would receive about
$18,000 per annum.
However, as we shall see in a subsequent chapter, he had not been
able to foresee the escalating interest rates which would become
common in the late 1970s.
The Philharmonic Orchestra presented their first Picnic and
Pops Concert on the downtown Mall on Friday, June 3. The program
included selections from Show Boat, Sound of Music, a collage of
hits from the movies and Broadway hits, and a Sousa march.
George Becoat was a guest soloist. There was also a Dixie Land Band
and an emsemble formed from the Choral Society. Table seating and
basket dinners were provided for a nominal cost.
The Palette and Brush Club held a Spring Art Exhibit
on the mall on June 3 and 4. The exhibit featured outstanding works
in all media. The members had just completed a joint showing with
the members of the Mount Vernon Art Guild. That exhibit was held
at W.G. Motors in Mount Vernon as a part of a promotion by the automobile
In July, the Little Theatre Players presented Godspell, a musical
based on the gospel according to St. Matthew. There were 15 songs
that included soft rock, gospel, scat songs, soft shoe, sweet folk
and swinging hymns.
On July 29 and 30, Dan Curly, a staff member on the University of
Illinois faculty, held a poetry workshop at the Cultural Center
for Creative Endeavors. Seventeen persons attended the workshop,
which was funded in part by the Illinois Arts Council.
On September 23, 1977, Richard Lewis of Winnetka was in Centralia
painting a scene of the downtown area. Lewis, called the Painter
of American Cities, stationed himself at the corner of Broadway
and Locust and did a street scene which shows the office of Newhard,
Cook, and Co. and a portion of the wall. Lewis was engaged in painting
cities throughout the state as a project sponsored by the Illinois
Chamber of Commerce. He was commissioned by the the First National
Bank of Centralia to do the 36 in. watercolor.
In the fall of 1977, the Cultural Society presented a plaque to
Anna B. Smith, honoring her for her service to the community. She
had served as an unsalaried secretary of the Society for fourteen
years, as well as serving as Production Manager and Costume Designer
for a number of productions.
Later in the season, Anna B. was named Woman of the Year
by the Centralia BPW. She was presented with a silver tray and was
invited to ride in a convertible in the Halloween Parade.
The Centralia Philharmonic Orchestra opened its 1977-78 season on
Sunday, October 9, under the direction of James Loomis. A new concept
for Orchestra supporters was introduced with ensembles featuring
members of its brass, woodwind, and string sections. In addition
to the ensembles, the Orchestra united and as a single unit, performed
an adaptation of Rhapsody in Blue.
The Choral Society presented a Vocal Pops Concert on October 23
at the Cultural Center. The Concert featured folk songs, familiar
melodies and nostalgic flashbacks. Joan Wham directed this event.
In October the Palette and Brush Club held their sixteenth annual
Fall Art Show. Over 200 works of art, representing 41 artists from
eleven communities and three states were on display.
The 17th Christmas Concert was held on December 4. Conductors were
David Drillinger, Orchestra; Margaret Sapp, Chorus; Dee Ann Ford,
High School Chorus; and Sue Ellen Mooney, Elementary Schools
The Centralia Philharmonic Orchestra presented a Pops Concert at
the center on Feb. 17, 1978. James Loomis was the conductor.
The Palette & Brush club sponsored a workshop for artists at
the Cultural Center on March 3 & 4. Walter M. Johnson, Director
of Visual Arts at the University of Illinois, was in charge of the
workshop. Subjects covered were drawing, perspective, and painting
with emphasis on the understanding and importance of color. Members
were allowed to bring one painting for evaluation.
The April musical for 1978 was Bye Bye Birdie, under the direction
of Viki Oliver. The sounds of Put on a Happy Face, Kids,
A Lot of Livin to Do and One Last Kiss were
heard in performance.
On May 20, the Centralia Cultural Society presented a Brahms-Schumann
Concert at the Center. The music was from the Romantic Era of the
The Centralia Philharmonic Orchestra presented Picnic and
Pops Concert II on the mall on the evening of June 2. They
were assisted by an ensemble from the Choral Society and the Centralia
Dixieland Band. Table seating and box lunches were included in the
price of the tickets.
Also on June 2 and 3 the Palette and Brush Club held their Spring
Art Exhibit. The Exhibit featured outstanding works in all media.
The Palette and Brush Club held a demonstration session in conjunction
with National Library Week at the Centralia Public Library. Participants
were Edna Dobbs, LaVerne Brink, Cliff Bozett, and Lois Carl.
The Little Theatre Players sponsored a series of workshops during
the spring of 1978. Conducting the workshops were Brad Vaughn of
the Marion Civic Center and Brad Trowbridge, Theatre Director in
Residence in Centralia.
In July, The Little Theatre Players presented a two night stand
of Theres No Opry at the Opry House Tonight. Keith
Shaw was the Director.
The Centralia Cultural Society received grants from the Illinois
Arts Council totaling $1,075.00. The money was allocated for Creative
Endeavors and thePhilharmonic Orchestra.
The 17th Fall Art Exhibit was held on September 29 and 30 in the
former Illinois Power Co. building on East Broadway.
The Centralia Philharmonic Orchestra opened its 1978-79 season On
October 15 under the direction of James Loomis. The Concert, in
addition to several ensembles, featured highlights from the Musical,
Annie, with a full orchestra compliment.
In November, the Creative Endeavors held a screening of the film,
The Passenger, in conjunction with a script writing
workshop. The cost of the workshop was $7.50 per person and included
admission to the movie as well as a session conducted by Don Zupola,
Assistant Professor of Cinematography and Photography at SIU Carbondale.
On November 3, 4, 10 and 11, the Little Theatre Players produced
the hilariously, funny comedy, Harvey, at the Cultural
Center. Director was Robert Cover.
On November 18, the Cultural Society held its second Arts Auction
at the Cultural Center to raise funds for its continuing programs.
Bill Holzhauer was again the auctioneer. The admission price was
$3.00 which could be applied toward the purchase of any auction
item. The auction reportedly netted over $5000.00.
The 18th Candlelight Christmas Concert was held on December 3. David
Drillinger, Joan Wham, Dee Ford, and Sue Ellen Mooney led the groups.
At years end, the Centralia Cultural Society was one of only
eleven other organizations in Illinois to receive the First annual
Governors Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts
in Illinois. The Centralia group was the only community organization
of its kind to be so honored. A number of Centralia Cultural Society
members attended the awards dinner in Chicago. Bill DuPerrieu was
chosen to accept the award on behalf of the Cultural Society from
Governor James Thompson.