Even though autumn does not begin until Sept. 22, the end of the Great Darke County Fair marks the end of summer for many. Students return to school, the days begin to get shorter and cooler, fall sports dominate conversations and TV screens, and Darke County Center for the Arts readies for a new season of presenting culturally enriching programs throughout the community. DCCA’s Artists Series season opens Saturday, Sept. 22 with the return of pianist extraordinaire Alpin Hong, who has twice before graced the stage at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall to wild acclaim from enthusiastic audiences of all ages.
And Alpin is eagerly anticipating performing in the auditorium at Memorial Hall, because he knows that it is truly a gem acoustically and aesthetically, enhancing his abundant skills to create a memorable show. Alpin is not alone in his high regard for Henry and Ella St. Clair’s impressive legacy; most artists presented at the Hall are awed by the beautiful building, which has served our community since 1912.
The will of Henry St. Clair directed that a Memorial Hall be erected “for the use and betterment of the public schools in any manner which said board may think most practicable and beneficial to the public.” Darke County Center for the Arts is extremely grateful for St. Clair Memorial Hall, which has played a large role in the organization’s success as it celebrates its 40th year of operation. DCCA is indeed fortunate to have access to such a prestigious venue; many other arts councils in cities with higher populations and more financial resources than Greenville have not thrived, some ceasing to exist, due in large part to the lack of a worthy and appropriate venue for presentations. Additionally, DCCA greatly appreciates the diligence of Greenville City Schools’ officials as they seek to assure that the historic building is kept in good repair.
Which brings us to the latest upgrades to St. Clair Memorial Hall. Many people complain about lack of nearby parking when attending DCCA shows; although I’ve never had to walk more than a block and a half from my car to the Hall and that doesn’t seem like much distance to me, audiences have expressed irritation at not being able to park as near to the building as they’d like for at least the past 40 years. With the completion of the new parking lot at the site of the now-demolished junior high building, that complaint has been resolved, that irritation has been eliminated. Landscaping remains to be done, so the promised green space is not yet in evidence, but 92 parking spots including four handicap-accessible spaces are ready for use at the lot, which can be entered from Armstrong Street and Central Avenue.
And that’s not all; for several years, the approach to Memorial Hall’s main entrance often became exceptionally slick and icy during the winter due to moisture collecting in indentations in the deteriorating concrete. Concert-goers as well as everyone else entering the Hall no longer need to fear slipping and falling on that treacherous surface, as the old concrete has been replaced, enabling smooth entry to the inviting and revered structure.
St. Clair Memorial Hall is a local treasure that merits the reverence it receives from artists and audience alike. To see and hear the amazing Alpin Hong perform at our treasured venue costs just $20 (half price for students), a small price for a thrilling experience that can reverberate throughout a lifetime. Additionally, if you purchase the season rather than individual tickets, one of your shows is essentially free; so you could return to the iconic space again and again to enjoy the wonder of DCCA’s entire season, which includes the nostalgic one-man show “The Wonder Bread Years” starring former Seinfeld writer Pat Hazell, the dynamic Piano Men performing the hits of Elton John and Billy Joel, and the crown jewel of the season, Toledo Symphony Orchestra’s “Ruby Celebration” honoring DCCA’s 40th anniversary. For more information, contact DCCA at 547-0908 or [email protected], or visit DCCA’s website at www.darkecountyarts.org.