While taking a stroll along the Fox River in downtown Elgin, visitors might be greeted by the sounds of a concerto drifting out of the majestic Hemmens Cultural Center during a concert. The 1,200-seat theatre sets the stage for a variety of concerts and theatrical productions.
The theatre is named after the late Hattie Pease Hemmens, a prominent Elgin resident. When Pease Hemmens passed away in 1957, she left over $1 million to the City of Elgin to create a community building and auditorium. Her gift kicked off a revitalization in downtown Elgin that led to the creation of a Civic Center featuring the Hemmens Cultural Center, city hall, post office and the Gail Borden Public Library.
Since opening in 1969, the Hemmens Cultural Center has set the stage for many famous performers, including B.B. King, Bob Newhart and Ides of March. Today the center serves as an artistic haven for local performers and serves as the home of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra.
The Hemmens Cultural Center is easily accessible in downtown Elgin with two large street parking lots and a parking deck. The Civic Center lot, located at the corner of Douglas and Highland Avenues, is centered between the Hemmens and many local restaurants. The center is also a short walk from one of Elgin’s Metra stations.
Check out this piece of Elgin’s history for yourself during an upcoming event:
The Elgin Symphony Orchestra will perform the first weekend in November kicking off with the music of Ravel’s Mother Goose ballet during Inside the Music of Andrew Grams from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1. Then from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, and from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, violinist Adele Anthony will join the orchestra to perform the international journey of Bolero! Chabrier, Edwards & Ravel.
Step into the Hemmens’ Cabaret Theater in the Round as improvisers create theatrical productions based on audience suggestions and stories during the First Friday Improvs presented by GreenRoom Productions. Upcoming performances will be from 8 to 9:45 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, and Friday, Dec. 6.
Explore a whole new world when the Christian Youth Theatre presents Aladdin Jr. from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, and from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and 6 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9.
The Children’s Theatre of Elgin will present The Legend of Hercules from 9:45 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, and Friday, Nov. 15. Additional showtimes will be 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Nov. 15, and Saturday, Nov. 16; and 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 17.
Kick off the holiday season with the 2019 Chicago Ballet Conservatory production of The Nutcracker, performed by the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. Local actors and dancers along with professional performers will bring this holiday classic to life. Performances will be 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8.
The Hemmens Cultural Center is located at 45 Symphony Way in Elgin. For more information, call (847) 931-5900 or visit www. hemmens.org.