The Chippewa Valley Cultural Association (CVCA) was created to accomplish two main goals: (1) to save the McDonell High School Building from destruction and restore it as a community arts center; and (2) to provide opportunities for local artists, performers, writers and creative producers to explore, grow and share their talents with others in the region and beyond. As a venue for learning and growth, the CVCA seeks also to bring in gifted individuals and groups from outside the region as well with the vision of exposing Chippewa Valley residents to the talents of people from all over the world.
History of the CVCA/Heyde Center for the Arts
The Heyde Center for the Arts is the current name of the historic building that was saved and restored to its present glory. The McDonell Memorial High School building was constructed in 1907 by a benevolent lumberman named Alexander McDonell in memory of his wife and children who had died recently. It was closed in 1964 when a new high school was built on the other side of town. For ten years after it was closed, the building was vandalized and allowed to deteriorate. Most of the windows were broken. Rain and snow caused the wood floors to buckle. The plaster on the walls peeled. Flocks of pigeons took up residence. The owners, the Catholic Church, offered to give the school to the City of Chippewa Falls until the City realized that it would cost $400,000 just to demolish the building.
During the long and arduous process of fundraising, and the renovation and restoration of the building, the Association organized performances in many “borrowed spaces” around the city. The performances raised money and community awareness of the goals of the Association and a sample of the performances and entertainment it would provide in the future. Licensed electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and other skilled and unskilled laborers have provided hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer labor.
3 S HIGH ST
CHIPPEWA FALLS , 54729
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