Kemper Hall Conference Center
In the mid 1990’s, what began as a project by the Rotary Club of Kenosha to provide a new dishwasher for the kitchen in the lower level of Simmons Auditorium soon became a multi-year effort to transform the former Kemper Hall Girl’s School Dining Room, Study Hall and Chemistry Lab into a state-of-the-“Art” conference and meeting facility. After Rotarians and Kemper board members Art Buchanan and Clarence Griffin proposed the improvement to the Simmons kitchen, it was found that the cost of the renovations necessary to comply with building codes far exceeded the cost of the dishwasher. At that point the idea of a conference center and a permanent home for the Rotary Club of Kenosha came about. The Rotary Club, Kemper Center, Inc. and the County of Kenosha then joined forces to bring the project to fruition. Rotary spearheaded the initial fundraising effort, raising the $234,000 in seed money needed for Kenosha County to bond for the project, together contributing an additional $20,000 per year for the next 6 years from member pledges and fund raising events. This also served as a incentive for many others in the community to make further donations to the renovation project.
Founder’s Hall, the former Kemper Hall Dining Room, located on the first floor of the Conference Center, seats up to 110 for a luncheon or dinner and more in meeting or party configurations. Used mainly for business meetings, parties and receptions, Founder’s Hall is decorated in soft greens and muted red. The paintings gracing the walls are available for sale through the Anderson Arts Center. Full audio-visual and wireless internet services are available for business meetings, and the facility includes a dance floor for parties and receptions.
The Study Hall seats up to 80 for dinner and is located on the second floor of the Conference Center. It features the same state-of-the-art meeting facilities of Founders Hall and is decorated in similar fashion. Adjacent to it is the Chemistry Lab, which has retained its old styling with the former lab work table now being used as a service bar. A row of Kemper Hall school desks is still attached to the lab work table. Also on the second floor are several former classrooms, including The Library, which can be used for meeting break-out rooms and for smaller gatherings, each seating up to 25.
Martha and Marion’s Kitchen, Kemper Center’s large full service catering facility, is also located on the first floor of the Conference Center. The kitchen is equipped to serve up to 400 guests for multiple events across the Kemper Campus.
The third and fourth floors of the Conference Center, which were formerly dormitory housing for the Kemper Hall students, is currently in a “white box” state and is available for development into offices, classrooms, studios, and other appropriate uses. The control room for the Griffin Observatory is also located on the fourth floor of the conference center.