When Darke County Center for the Arts (DCCA) Executive Director Andrea Jordan first heard about “Heart-Bombing” beloved sites in Darke County, she knew what she wanted to do—cover Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall with paper hearts proclaiming “This Place Matters.”
She presented her idea to DCCA’s governing board, who warmly embraced the plan. So DCCA officials proudly participated in Main Street Greenville’s “Heart-Bombing,” a celebration of historic buildings that people love, and part of Young Ohio Preservationists’ effort to help bring awareness to Heritage Ohio Main Street programs.
From its very beginnings, DCCA has been a staunch supporter of maintaining and preserving the priceless gift that Henry St. Clair bequeathed to the community. One of the earliest decisions reached by the activists who founded DCCA in 1978 to encourage cultural enrichment in our community was to endorse the restoration and preservation of Memorial Hall, a commitment still contained in DCCA’s mission statement.
From its opening in 1912, St. Clair Memorial Hall provided a jewel of a venue that was used not only for professional and amateur theatrical and musical performances, but also for lecturers and political speakers. Fond memories of the hall are held by almost everyone who attended school at Greenville, as well as by countless others in the community who participated through the years in any of the myriad events that have taken place within its broad confines.
When DCCA first began presenting professional performing artists at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall, the grand place was looking pretty shabby; so DCCA officials established a restoration committee which solicited community support to raise funds for returning the once great hall to its former state of grandeur. When that major effort was completed in 1991, Greenville City Schools, DCCA, and the entire community celebrated its success. At that time, Darke County Endowment for the Arts was established to receive bequests and donations that are invested to generate funds benefiting the arts in our community, including a fund designated for the maintenance and preservation of Memorial Hall; many subsequent projects and upgrades at the Hall have been underwritten by this fund.
The continuing success of DCCA’s Artists Series is in no small part directly attributable to the beauty and wonder of that impressive space in which performances are presented; other similar arts organizations have suffered by not having a facility comparable to St. Clair Memorial Hall. DCCA recognizes this truth, valuing the stewardship and cooperation of Greenville City School officials and staff, and contributing to purchases that insure the hall’s technical abilities remain of the highest possible quality.
The most recent renovation to Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall, completed this summer with funds provided by the Ohio legislature and obtained through the efforts of Senate President Keith Faber, Senator Bill Beagle, and Representative Jim Buchy, has renewed not only the sparkle to the century-old landmark, but also the enthusiasm of local residents for the community treasure. Not only DCCA, but everybody loves St. Clair Memorial Hall!
According to DCCA officials, the buzz of excitement generated by the renovation has resulted in increased ticket sales. Recent DCCA shows at Memorial Hall have sold out, and only a few tickets remain to the upcoming concert by The Texas Tenors, which is more than two months away! Other shows remaining in DCCA’s current season include the final installment of the Family Theatre Series, Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey, and Toledo Symphony Orchestra playing the iconic songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein to close the Artists Series season.
Many ways exist for you to show your love for this beloved place. You can donate to Darke County Endowment for the Arts Memorial Hall Fund, you can support DCCA with your membership, you can attend performances and other events that keep St. Clair Memorial Hall vibrantly alive. This place will continue to matter as it serves our community long after the February “Heart-Bombing” demonstrating DCCA’s feelings about the revered building have disappeared from view.
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.