Racine Civic Centre100% Local
5 5th St.
Racine , WI 53403 (view map)
First-class venues for your special event on Lake Michigan, in downtown Racine
Balls, concerts, conferences, dinner parties, expos, festivals, meetings, sports, and weddings. Whatever your special event may be, Racine Civic Centre makes event planning easy and convenient. The three venues of the Racine Civic Centre provide the versatility and inspiration you need with a Lake Michigan view, conveniently located in downtown Racine.
Racine Civic Center: Event Venues
Three Great Facilities, nestled on the lakefront
Nestled on the lakefront of Lake Michigan, the Racine Civic Centre combines three great venues into one location. Great for weddings, concerts, community events, meetings, and more, combined with award winning management, the Racine Civic Centre is your place for a memorable event.
Festival Hall is a 15,000 square foot, versatile facility, right next to Festival Park.
Festival Park is a 30,000 square foot park on Racine’s lakefront adjacent to Festival Hall
Memorial Hall is a nearly 17,000 square feet facility complete with a main level, lower and a balcony. Perfect for large weddings and events, complete with wood and marble floors.
The building as a memorial
Memorial Hall, situated on the highest point on the city’s lake bank above Lake Michigan, was designed by a well-known, successful Midwestern architect, Howard Van Doren Shaw (1869-1926). Neoclassical in style, the Hall’s construction materials include Indiana limestone and brick. The roof is covered with copper.
The main facade faces south and features a two-story raised portico in front of the end gable of the main roof. The portico cornice is supported by four Corinthian columns. Centered above the cornice, in full sculpted form, is the seal of the State of Wisconsin flanked by sculpted eagles. Under the portico on the front wall’s left and right sides are eagles and wreaths in carved relief. Over the main entry doors incised into stone are the words, WE SHALL NOT FORGET.
On the west side of the building between the covered windows are six seals commemorating wars in which United States citizens have fought. North to south, these are:
An Appeal to Heaven, Don’t Tread On Me, 1766
Don’t Give Up the Ship, War of 1812
War Exists Notwithstanding All Efforts to Avoid It, 1846
The Civil War, What I Do I Do For the Union, 1861-1864
Cuba Libre, The Spanish American War, 1889
The Great War For Civilization, 1917
Inscribed at the corners of the west facade are the names of famous battles. On the north corner: Bunker Hill, Yorktown, Gettysburg, Vicksburg. On the south corner are Santiago, Manila Bay, Chateau Thierry, and Argonne.
The cannons greeting visitors to the west steps are twelve-pound Napoleon cannons dated 1862 and 1863. Each has a four and one-half bore and shot twelve-pound cannon balls.
The west facade also contains words spoken by citizens, patriots, and statesmen who gave us the spirit and courage to maintain the values our country was founded on. North to south on the building these are incised into the limestone:
Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
Patrick Henry, Virginia Convention, 1775
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Declaration of Independence, 1776
We fight for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience. The world must be made safe for democracy.
Woodrow Wilson, War Message, 1917
The east side of the building has two bays on either end of a two-story colonnade of paired columns between. “Memorial Hall, Built By The Citizens of Racine” was entered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
I’ve been to Memorial Hall
From the first, Memorial Hall served as a municipal auditorium and meeting place for patriotic and political organizations, a site for speeches and rallies. Politicians who have used the hall include presidential candidate Robert Taft, Wendell Wilkie, Thomas Dewey, Harold Stassen, George Wallace, Hubert Humphrey, Eleanore Roosevelt and Joseph McCarthy. Barack Obama held town hall meetings at Memorial Hall both as a candidate in 2008 and as president in 2010.
Entertainers who have performed at Memorial Hall include pianist-comic Victor Borge, musicians Stan Kenton and Count Basie, vocal group The Lettermen, the bands Ratt, Bad Boy, Journey, and Styx, and singers Tanya Tucker and Loretta Lynn. The Minneapolis Symphony and Albert the Alley Cat drew large audiences. In January of 2011, a performance by Little River Band renewed Memorial Hall as host to national touring acts.
Other events held at the Hall have included lecture series, travelogues, post-prom parties, fashion and home shows, and an annual antique show. There is a ring for wresting and boxing events, and the building is a popular venue for wedding receptions and banquets.
This history is adapted from a Racine Heritage Museum (formerly Racine County Historical Society and Museum) brochure, the production of which was sponsored by AMVETS Racine Post 120 and Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Belle City Chapter 9.