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Concerts

The History of the Marion Cultural & Civic Center and WBVN

Posted on by Laura Posted in Concerts | Leave a comment

The Marion Cultural and Civic Center is located in the southwest corner of the Tower Square Plaza in the City of Marion. The original building was built as a movie theater and vaudeville showplace.

Construction began early in 1919, and it opened its doors to the public on January 2, 1922. At that time it was a vaudeville/movie house known as the Orpheum Playhouse. It was the latest in design and theatrical equipment and could seat 1500 people.  Some of the leading stars of that era made appearances on its stage: Harry Houdini, Tom Mix and His Wonder Horse, The Ziegfield Follies, Anna Case, star soprano of the Metropolitan Opera, Bebe Daniels, and the doll of the stage, Barbara Bronell, who appeared in “Listen To Me” and “The Broadway Jingles.”

The first improvements to be made to the playhouse were in 1927. With the innovation of the “talkies,” $10,000 worth of sound reproducing equipment was purchased and installed to show the first talking movie, The Jazz Singer, featuring Al Jolson.

The loss of attendance and revenue, along with the increasing high cost of maintenance, forced the playhouse to close its doors in 1971. For the next few years the building lay idle and deteriorating. But in 1973 the City of Marion purchased the building and property for a modest sum of $11,000. No firm decision was made as to what the city would do with the property. Several ideas were suggested, but a new concept came about during this period —the civic center, a multi-purpose building that could be used for all types of entertainment, town meetings, forums and conventions was created.

The city council made a decision to hire a local contractor to make an evaluation of the building and to submit an estimated cost of repairs for their consideration. The contractor found this building to be structurally sound, but in need of a tremendous amount of repair before it would be safe for public use. Once the evaluation and estimates were received by the city council, a decision was made to appropriate $140,000 toward the renovation.

On May 9, 1975, Mayor Butler cut the ribbon at the grand-opening. Will Rogers, Jr., was the featured artist of the evening.

Since it re-opened its doors in 1975, two former presidents, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, have appeared on its stage. Music and television stars Red Skelton, Mickey Rooney, Donald O’Connor, and Gordon MacRae, along with country music stars Randy Travis and Mel Tellis, and the outstanding piano virtuoso, Van Cliburn, have adorned its stage. Some big name bands famous during the 40s and 50s-Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, Guy Lombardo and Doc Severinson-have made several appearances at the center.

WBVN has been a frequent patron of the Marion Cultural and Civic Center, enjoying the use of this venue to bring Contemporary Christian artists to Southern Illinois. The last WBVN concert in the old civic center was CCM artist Michael O’Brien on Friday, March 7, 1997. Three days later the 75-year-old civic center burned down.  After producing concerts in various locations including SIU’s Shryock Auditorium, the SIU Arena, Rend Lake College, Southeastern Illinois College, and frequently in the John A. Logan Auditorium, we finally established a series of concerts at the Aldersgate Methodist Church, near the original WBVN studios located in the warehouse at Sherlock Holmes Mobile Homes east of Marion.

In 2004 the New Marion Cultural and Civic Center was opened and we began a long run of concerts again at the original location of many of our early concert series.  Our first concert in the rebuilt civic center was Mark Schultz on July 17, 2004 to a sold-out crowd.  We would on May 6th, 2005, host the filming of Mark’s DVD, A Night of Stories and Songs.  We filmed two separate concerts with over 1800 people in attendance for a matinee and evening event.

Current statistics:

First Sell-out was Phillips Craig and Dean in 1993

The most appearances as of December 2013 has been Mark Schultz (15) since 2001

Second most appearances NewSong (12) beginning in 1996

The following is a Historical List of WBVN’s Concert Series…Thank you all that have shared these nights with us and helped make the Series a successful outreach of this radio station.  Concerts have played a major role in what we believe this ministry is supposed to be doing for our listeners and their friends and families.

06/01/90 Farrell & Farrell 07/27/90 Rich Mullins
01/19/91 Bryan Duncan 03/22/91  David Meece
05/31/91 Jerome Olds 07/19/91 Wayne Watson
12/14/91 Bruce Carroll 01/25/92 Geoff Moore
03/12/92 Margaret Becker 03/22/92 Randy Stonehill
5/29/92 Steve Camp 07/17/92 Wes King
09/14/92 Ray Boltz 10/09/92 Brian Becker
01/08/93 Phillips, Craig and Dean 03/13/93 Kim Boyce
05/01/93 Ray Boltz 05/29/93 Bryan Duncan
07/02/93 Charlie Peacock 09/10/93 Phillip Sandifer
10/08/93 Margaret Becker 11/06/93 Mark Lowery
12/11/93 Phillips, Craig and Dean 02/19/94 Bob Carlisle
04/08/94 Susan Ashton Tour 06/03/94 Out of the Grey
08/27/94 Paul Smith 10/31/94 Geoff Moore and the Distance
12/10/94 Aaron Jeoffrey 01/28/95 Wes King
03/17/95 Phillips, Craig and Dean 05/20/95 Kim Boyce
06/17/95 Clay Crosse 07/22/95 Guardian
08/26/95 Aaron Jeoffrey 10/03/95 Wes King Tour
11/21/95 Rich Mullins Tour 01/06/96 Bruce Carroll/ Michael James
2/10/96 Bryan Duncan 03/12/96 Geoff Moore and the Distance
05/03/96 NewSong 07/06/96 Gary Chapman
08/24/96 Cindy Morgan 09/28/96 Randy Stonehill
11/23/96 Margaret Becker 03/07/97 Michael O’Brien(Last old Civic Center)
06/20/97 Guardian (SIC) 08/16/97 Bruce Carroll (RLC)
09/26/97 NewSong (SIU) 01/10/98 John Cox (JALC)
03/20/98 Randy Stonehill (JALC) 05/02/98 Bryan Duncan (JALC)
07/25/98 Scott Krippayne (JALC) 10/02/98 Phillips, Craig & Dean (SIU)
11/21/98 Wes King (JALC) 01/09/99 The Normals (JALC)
03/04/99 FFH 04/10/99 John Cox
06/26/99 Satellite Soul 08/07/99 Nichole Nordeman
09/09/99 Margaret Becker/ Ashley Cleveland 11/04/99 Phil Keaggy
01/08/00 Russ Lee 02/18/00 FFH
03/25/00 NewSong 05/05/00 Big Tent Revival
06/17/00 Natalie Grant 07/06/00 Chris Taylor Youth Event
08/26/00 John Cox 09/30/00 Ragamuffin Band/ Ashley Cleveland
11/04/00 Geoff Moore 03/17/01 Andrew Peterson
05/26/01 Phil Keaggy 08/04/01 Mark Schultz
09/18/01 Michael Card 10/23/01 Andrew Peterson
01/11/02 John Cox 03/08/02 Layton Howerton
05/04/02 Mark Schultz 07/27/02 Steve Wiggins
09/21/02 Big Daddy Weave 03/17/03 John Cox
05/17/03 Bryan Duncan 11/08/03 Downhere
04/03/04 Axiom 07/17/04 Mark Schultz (Marion Civic Center)
11/19/04 NewSong 01/14/05 John Cox/ Axiom
03/05/05 4 Him 05/06/05 Mark Schultz
07/16/05 NewSong 09/27/05 Mark Schultz ‘DVD’
09/30/05 Phillips, Craig and Dean 01/20/06 Point of Grace
03/25/06 Todd Agnew/ Big Daddy Weave 07/07/06 Point of Grace
09/30/06 Mark Schultz/ BDW/Klinkenberg 09/30/06 Mark Schultz/BDW/ Klinkenberg
01/13/07 Watermark / John Cox 03/29/07 The Rock and The Rabbi
03/30/07 The Rock and The Rabbi 03/31/07 The Rock and The Rabbi
05/19/07 Peter Penrose 07/14/07 33 Miles
08/05/07 Andrew Carlton /Adam Cunningham 09/08/07 Big Daddy Weave
11/10/07 NewSong 01/12/08 Mark Schultz (matinee)
1/12/08 Mark Schultz 02/02/08 Randy Stonehill
03/15/08 Shane and Shane 04/24/08 Phil Keaggy
06/14/08 Rush of Fools 06/15/08 Andrew Carlton/ John Cox
08/23/08 Bryan Duncan 09/13/08 NewSong/Battistelli/ Sallie/Nolan
11/08/08 Big Daddy Weave/ Rush of Fools 01/10/09 Christy Nockels/ Ronnie Freeman
02/07/09 Michael O’Brien 04/18/09 Shane and Shane
05/28/09 iShine 06/13/09 33 Miles/ Andrew Carlton
08/20/09 Glory Revealed 09/12/09 Mark Schultz/PointofGrace (matinee)
09/12/09 Mark Schultz/ Point of Grace 11/06/09 Margaret Becker
12/11/09 NewSong/ BDW/ Fran Battistelli 02/06/10 Downhere
03/20/10 Michael O’Brien 04/22/10 Rush of Fools
05/22/10 Barlow Girl 06/17/10 Mark Schultz
08/07/10 Francesca Battistelli 09/11/10 Big Daddy Weave/ Aaron Shust
12/09/10 NewSong/Newsboys 12/10/10 NewSong/Newsboys
01/29/11 Building 429’s Winterblast 03/12/11 Bebo Norman
04/30/11 Andrew Peterson/ Laura Story 07/09/11 Harris III
08/27/11 Jason Gray/ Finding Favour 10/07/11 MarkSchultz/33Miles/FindingFavour
12/09/11 NewSong/Kutless/August/Grace 01/28/12 Laura Story/An Epic, No Less
03/24/12 BigDaddyWeave/MIKESCHAIR/KRoberts 05/12/12 Lincoln Brewster
08/04/12 Abandon/AnthemLights/Watersedge 09/27/12 MatthewWest/MIKESCHAIR/LMcCaul/Everfound
12/07/12 NewSong/B429/Fran B/JDiaz 12/19/12 Michael O’Brien
01/19/13 MIKESCHAIR/Citizen Way 02/18/13 SanctusReal/JJHeller/Unspoken/BreadOfStone
04/06/13  Mark Schultz/Aaron Shust/Jonny Diaz 05/11/13 Chonda Pierce/Geoff Moore
07/27/13  for King & Country/Moriah Peters   09/21/13 Big Daddy Weave/CAugust/Unspoken (DVD) 
11/03/13 Veggie Tales Live!  12/10/13  Newsong/AudioA/SidewalkProphets/JCastro/L&TO
01/24/14  Phillips, Craig & Dean  04/13/14  Acts The 3-Man Show-Drama 
04/26/14  Ragamuffin Movie  05/10/14  Sidewalk Prophets/City Harbor/About A Mile 
07/19/14  for King & Country/Aaron R Smith