The Hendricks Center for the Arts, Beloit’s newest building, is only 767 steps from Eaton Chapel. President Bierman presented this fact to new students (noting that it’s closer to the chapel than Chapin Hall) when he spoke at Convocation in August. Later that day, the campus community joined Bierman in strolling down the hill to the Hendricks Center courtyard and parking lot, where an opening-of-the-semester party was held, complete with pizza, a live band, and tours of the new facility.
Formerly the city’s public library, the Hendricks Center sits at the corner of Pleasant Street and Grand Avenue in the city’s downtown, about the closest off-campus location possible in Beloit.
The completely renovated and expanded center for the arts came to life on Aug. 24, when it opened for classes. At 58,000 square feet, it is second in size only to the Center for the Sciences among college buildings. While the exterior is nearly unchanged from the time the cornerstone was laid in 1910, the interior underwent a dramatic transformation last spring and summer.
Today, the building serves as a hub for Beloit’s arts education. Large and small second-floor ensemble spaces and studios serve as home for choral and instrumental rehearsals, small-scale performances, and individual lessons. On the main floor, two dance studios offer ample space for performances and dance classes that, in the past, often had to be held in a nearby church basement. The Hendricks Center also features teaching spaces outfitted with the latest technology, a film screening room, wired study areas, a studio/lab for lighting design, faculty offices, and musical instrument storage.
Beloit’s trustees and special friends celebrated a second grand opening on Oct. 8. Arts education went on display with self-guided tours and student and alumni talks and performances staged in every nook and cranny of the building, including the elevators and stairwells.
The Hendricks Center for the Arts is named for Diane Hendricks and her late husband Ken Hendricks, a former college trustee. In keeping with their vision for the adaptive reuse of buildings—evidence of which is ample around the city of Beloit—the couple saw the potential in the building after the library was relocated. Their gift to the college, valued at $6.9 million, included the extensive renovations.