Main Street Greenville is hosting its annual First Friday Upper Floor Tour tonight, and you really should be there. If you are interested in local culture, history, or heritage, you will revel in wandering through places that reveal fascinating pasts while also inspiring thoughts of future possibilities.
Previous featured spaces have ranged from memorably sad wrecks that faintly recall past grandeur to impressively restored rooms usefully converted to living spaces or offices; tonight, you can explore the past, experience the present, and imagine the future in familiar and yet unknown spots.
Buildings featured this year include 126 W. Fourth St. above Greenville Pawn and Jewelry, 302 S. Broadway above Tecumseh Center for Natural Healing, 120 We. Third St. above Nature’s Heart Yoga and F45 Training, and 410 S. Broadway above Brenda’s Beanery, offering glimpses of what has gone before and visions of what might be. But the bonus location will provide the showpiece for downtown adventurers; along with the buildings in the ticketed tour, magnificent and historic Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall will be open for scrutiny from 6 to 9 p.m.
Greenville grocer Henry St. Clair’s generous bequest of $100,000 to the board of education “for the purpose of erecting a Memorial Hall for the use and betterment of the public schools” led to the laying of the edifice’s cornerstone on June 3, 1910; with the addition of a $35,000 donation from Henry’s widow Ella, Henry’s Memorial Hall was completed and dedicated on May 3, 1912. Much activity has transpired within its expansive confines in the intervening 105 years.
Visitors to the hall are greeted by the building’s priceless crown jewels, three stunningly beautiful stained glass windows that, while not designed by Tiffany, contain opalescent glass manufactured at the famed studio. A trip backstage and beyond will show off the expansive men’s and women’s dressing rooms underneath the stage as well as the upstairs “Star” dressing rooms offering quick on-stage access as well as a secret peek at the awaiting audience, plus much more.
Ever since it opened, St. Clair Memorial Hall has welcomed shows from all over the country; hundreds of lecturers, musicians, politicians, and traveling acting troupes have performed there. The pristine performance space has seen many local performers as well, and hosted thousands of students who have passed through Greenville City Schools. All of that history has engendered many magical moments, making the building a repository of hopes, dreams, inspiration, and myriad memories. But in addition to reminiscences, those touring the Hall will experience the building in its present form, and as the venerable site enters a new phase minus a daily influx of students, ponder future uses for the grand space.
Representatives of Darke County Endowment for the Arts and Darke County Center for the Arts have recruited local citizens with relationships to St. Clair Memorial Hall to host tonight’s visitors; these “tour guides” have their own stories to tell. So don’t miss this bonus First Friday Upper Floor Tour site; no ticket is required to visit Henry and Ella’s legacy. Tickets for the rest of the tour cost $5, and will be available at any of the featured locations.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.