On February 26, 1983, the Centralia Philharmonic Orchestra presented
a Saturday night Pops Concert. Guests appearing on the program included
a German band and a barber shop quartet.
My Fair Lady, the record-breaking, long-running Broadway
musical, opened on April 15 at the Centralia High School Auditorium.
Other performances were held on April 17, 23 and 24. An adaptation
of George Bernard Shaws Pygmalion, the production included
a nostalgic repertoire of songs.
By 1983, escalating inflation had raised admission prices to $4.50
for adults and $3.50 for students. Tickets purchased at the door
sold for $1.00 more.
On June 5, Rebecca Markowski again presented her violin students
in a recital at the Centralia Cultural Society building.
On June 9-11, the Little Theatre Players presented The Apple
Tree, a series of three one-act musicals. The first, The
Diary of Adam and Eve, gave a witty and amusing account of
the life style of the first two people on Earth. The second was
centered in a mythical rock and roll kingdom of barbarians and told
the story of The Lady or the Tiger. The third, Passionella,
dealt with a chimney sweep who became a glamorous movie star.
On June 11, artist Ron Sadler presented a Landscape Painting
Workshop. Sponsored by the Palette and Brush Club, there was
a $15.00 fee for each participant.
On June 18, the Centralia Choral Society presented American
Music Concert, featuring a variety of types of American music.
In mid-June, President E.E. McMillan appointed Virginia Hailey,
returned Kaskaskia College English teacher to the Board of Directors-at-Large
and designated her Historian of the Centralia Cultural Society.
She was assigned the task of compiling the history of the organization
from its origin as an outgrowth of the 1958 Community Development
Committee to the present time.
On July 14-16, the Centralia Cultural Center was the site of another
Little Theatre Players production. This was Stop the
World-I Want to Get Off.
On August 27, the Centralia Philharmonic Orchestra in conjunction
with selected members of the Choral Society presented Pops
in the Park. Given at the Library park Bandshell, the concert
was free to the public and refreshments were available for purchase.
Perhaps the most important event occurred on Sunday, September 18.
At that time the Board of Directors hosted an Open House
to give patrons and friends an opportunity to tour the newly renovated
and expanded Cultural Society Center.
Construction had begun in the late fall months of 1981 on an approximate
6000 square feet addition to the building. The contract for construction
was given to the Southern Concrete Company at an estimated cost
of $200,000. Financing was obtained on the strength of a trust fund
from the estate of Beulah Puffer, which is administered by the Trust
Department of the First National Bank and Trust Company of Centralia.
Mrs. Puffer, who died on February 24, 1977, left an estate of approximately
$343,000.000. Numerous small bequests ranging from $500.00 to $15,000.00
were made to distant relatives and friends, but the bulk of her
estate was willed to the Centralia Cultural Society.
After attorneys fees and other administrative expenditures
were made, an estimated $275,000.00 remained for the Cultural Society.
Interest from the fund, which in 1977 was estimated to be about
$18.000.00 per annum, has varied from year to year depending on
the rate of return from investments. Bruce Geary, former Cultural
Society Treasurer, estimated that the 1983 return would approximate
In the original construction, various tradesmen had donated a great
deal of the labor. However, all of the work for the new addition
was contracted with the exception of some interior work and painting
done by members of the Cultural Society.
Early in October the Palette and Brush Club sponsored their tradiional
Art Fair at the Community Center. There were 154 entries.
On Saturday October 15, the Choral Society presented a Master
Works Concert in the sanctuary of the First Christian Church.
William Camphouse directed the vocalists and instrumentalists in
the sacred composition, Gloria. On October 23, the Philharmonic
Orchestra presented their opening concert of the season. The Director
was James Loomis, whose name is synonymous with many successful
musical events in Centralia. In November, the Little Theatre Players
gave a three-act comedy, The Odd Couple.
Felix and Oscar in The Odd Couple
Directed by Sherm Doolen, the play featured a small cast. The
situation comedy, which had been a very popular stage play,
was adapted for television use where it had a run of several seasons.
The comedy was presented over three weekends in late November and
Another traditional event of the season was the 23rd Candlelight
Christmas Concert which was held in the High School Auditorium on
December 4. The various musical groups again performed before an
On December 16 and 17, the third Madrigal Feaste was held in the
Cultural Center. Even at a cost of $20.00 per person, the event
was a sell-out. Traditional English fare was catered by a Mount
Vernon group. The Entertainment featured the Medieval Singers, accompanied
by brass instruments and recorders.
At the December meeting Woodrow Koelling was elected President by
the Board of Directors. He was the first person in history to serve
a second time as he had held that office some years before.
THE ANNIVERSARY YEARS 1985-86
If June 3, 1958 is accepted as the official date when Centralia
first requested the assistance of SIUs Community Development
Program, 1984 marked the beginning of the second quarter century
of organized cultural activities in Centralia.
However, July 28, 1961 is generally accepted as the date of the
birth of the Centralia Cultural Society. Operating on that premise,
July 28, 1986, will mark the first quarter century of its existence.
As early as 1984, the Board of Directors was having discussions
concerning holding various special events in 1985 to celebrate the
first twenty-five years of the organizations existence.
The first event of the 1984 season was a Pops Concert
on Saturday, February 23 at the Community Arts Center. A special
feature of this concert was the appearance of a barber shop quartet
as special guest entertainers. The $5.00 per person
tickets included table seating, soft drinks and snack foods.
On March 23-25, 30 and 31, the Little Theatre Players presented
Snoopy, a musical based on the comic strip, Peanuts,
by Charles Schulz.
Snoopy starring Keith Shaw
The March 25th performance was interpreted for the hearing impaired.
This was a service that had not previously been provided by the
Cultural Society. Tickets were still kept at the nominal cost of
$3.00 for adults and $2.00 for students and senior citizens.
The Centralia Choral Society presented Rossinis Stabat
Mater with a piano duet and instrumental accompaniment on
April 29. The First Baptist Church of Centralia was the site of
the concert. There was no admission price, but a free will offering
There was no Spring Musical in 1984, for only the second time in
twenty years. None was scheduled because no director was available.On
June 1, the Centralia Philharmonic Orchestra and the Centralia Cultural
Choral Society combined to bring their annual concert at the Library
Park Bandshell. A well established institution by this time, it
was advertised as The Annual Library Park Pops Concert.
In the summer months of 1984, the Centralia Cultural Society sponsored
three more events. On July 14, the Palette and Brush Club brought
Noel Smith to the Community Arts Center to conduct a one day seminar
in Landscapes and Oils. On July 20-22, 27 and 28, a
childrens musical, Tom Sawyer, was presented.
On August 24, the Centralia Philharmonic Orchestra presented a Pops
in the Park concert in the Foundation Park Bowl.
The fall season got off to a great start with three more well-established
events. October 6 and 7 were the dates for the Palette and Brush
Clubs Fall Art Show, an annual event open to all
area artists. The exhibit was available for public viewing at the
Community Arts Center on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
In the music department, Joan Wham was the director for a Choral
Society Concert on October 13. Featured this year was a Festival
of Folk Songs from the British Isles and America.
The Centralia Philharmonic Orchestra opened its 24th season on Sunday,
October 21 with a concert at the Cultural Arts Center. Veteran music
director, James Loomis, was the conductor.
Only one event was scheduled for November. The Little Theatre Players
presented The Heiress on November 10, 11, 16 and 17
at the Community Arts Center. The Heiress has an 1850s
December has always been a busy month for the Cultural Society and
brought two more traditional events. The biggest event of the season
was the 24th Annual Christmas Candlelight Concert held in the Centralia
High School Auditorium on Sunday, December 2. Sponsored by the Cultural
Society, the Concert traditionally features the Centralia Philharmonic
Orchestra, the Centralia Choral Society and choruses from numerous
The Fourth Annual Elizabethan Madrigal Feaste was held on December
14 and 15. This year, following a delicious, catered, traditional,
English Christmas dinner, entertainment was provided by the Choral
Society, the Madrigal Singers, and the brass and recorder musicians.
Also in December, long-time secretary, Lou Ferguson, submitted her
resignation. She was the first permanent paid employee of the Cultural
Society. The Executive Board honored her with a luncheon and presented
he with a monetary gift. Many well-qualified applicants submitted
letters of application and resumes as potential candidates to fill
her position. A screening committee narrowed the list of applicants
and conducted several interviews. After a lengthy search, they submitted
a recommendation which was accepted by the Executive Committee.
Vivian Browning was the successful candidate, but after serving
only a few months, she resigned to become a full-time homemaker.
The first event of 1985, was the annual Saturday Night Pops
Concert presented by the Centralia Philharmonic Orchestra.
A popular Centralia Barbershop Quartet appeared with the Orchestra
as guest performers and were well received. The bargain price of
$5.00 included not only entertainment, but also table seating, soft
drinks, and snack foods.
On March 31, the Choral Society presented a Vocal Arts Recital:
A Bach and Handel Celebration at the First Baptist Church
in Centralia. This Palm Sunday event was presented in honor of the
300th birthdays of Bach and Handel. The program featured eight vocal
soloists, and four instrumental soloists, using the piano, the organ,
the harpsichord and the flute.
On April 19-21, 26 and 27, the Cultural Society presented Annie
as the Spring Musical. Never-to-be-forgotten numbers were Tomorrow
and Wed Like to Thank You, Herbert Hoover. The
cast also featured a popular tap dance routine, N.Y.C.
On May 25 and 26, the Little Theatre Players sponsored Charlottes
Web. This was an outgrowth of a Theatre Workshop for St. Marys
On June 7, the Centralia Philharmonic Orchestra and the Centralia
Choral Society produced the annual Library Parks Pops Concert.
On July 19-21 and 26 and 27, the Little Theatre Players presented
the situation comedy, Never Too Late.
For the first time this was a revival of a previous performance
of the Cultural Society. Bob Cover, who was the original director
more than ten years ago, returned as the 1985 director. The July
19 performance featured a First Nighters Cocktail Reception
The late summer months brought two other free exhibitions to the
Community Arts Center. Linda Short conducted a Batik Demonstration
in July and Don Ross gave a painting demonstration in August. Both
of these demonstrations were open to the public.
The Palette and Brush Club sponsored three autumn events. On September
4, Noel Smith began a series of six weekly class sessions called
Evening Art Classes. On September 5, Kelly Cichi presented
a program to introduce the Illinois Ozarks Crafts Guild. On October
5 and 6 the Palette and Brush Club staged their annual Fall
Art Show. This exhibition featuring the works of area artists
was again well received.
The 25th season of joint concerts of the Philharmonic Orchestra
and the Choral Society opened on October 20 at Kaskaskia College.
The traditional reception for both audience and participants followed
Other events of the late summer and early fall months included two
workshops for children sponsored by the Choral Society. The first
session featured listening and singing skills and the development
of rhythm and motion and was geared to children aged three to five.
The second series featured singing, speech, rhythm, improvisation
and creative activities. It was designed for children from six to
nine years of age.
Paul Mulcahy arrived in Centralia early in the fall. He served as
an artist-in-residence working jointly with the Cultural Society,
Centralia High School, and the Centralia Correctional Center. He
was slated to direct the 1986 Spring Musical.
Among other activities, the Cultural Society presented a plaque
in memory of a deceased member, Harry Pick, to his family. Permanent
lighting fixtures were purchased with his memorial gifts.
In October the organization also held a garage sale. Booth rental
space for sale items, crafts and foods was leased on a first-come-first-served
basis. The event also featured a mini fair complete with clowns,
balloons and a sidewalk portrait painter.
Jane Loco succeeded Vivian Browning as secretary. She was made the
Executive Secretary. Late in October, the newly formed personnel
committee recommended that she be named Executive Director and that
she be given additional responsibilities.
A Scholarship Committee consisting of nine prominent Centralians
has been appointed and had begun to function in the last months
The Board of Directors participated in a retreat at Out Lady of
the Snows Shrine in November. A volunteer group had been formed
and was instrumental in securing a record number of new benefactors.
Treasurer Bill Mansell was successful in securing and refinancing
the outstanding loan on the building expansion. The monthly payments
were not reduced, but the loan would be repaid earlier as a result
of the refinancing.
Members also saw the inauguration of a Christmas Craft Celebration.
This exhibition featured the works of Southern Illinois craftsmen.
The products of their industry were offered for sale to early Christmas
The twenty-fifth Annual Candlelight Christmas Concert was held on
Sunday, December 8. Midway in the program, ten instrumentalists
and vocalists who had appeared in every production since its inception
The last presentation of the year, A Dickens of a Christmas,
was held December 12-14. This offering of the Little Theatre group
was presented in lieu of the Olde English Banquet and the Madrigal
In the last days of 1985, plans were underway to offer a bigger
and much improved newsletter. Plans were in the making to produce
an eight page, quarterly news sheet which would feature not only
upcoming events, but also the history of the Cultural Society and
feature stories of former participants who have achieved local,
state and national recognition.
This concludes the V. Hailey History