PEORIA HEIGHTS – The Blickenstaff touch was in evidence at the ribbon-cutting for the Betty Jayne Brimmer Center for the Performing Arts in Peoria Heights on August 15.
The transformation of the Kelly Avenue Library into the arts center is just one of the area projects that developer Kim Blickenstaff is working on.
Over 400 people attended an event that promised cupcakes, live music and a cash bar, said Jenny Parkhurst, executive director of performing arts at the Heights center, named for Blickenstaff’s mother, as well as the Scottish Rite Theater in Downtown Peoria, another Blickenstaff project.
“This would have been the 100th birthday for Betty Jayne,” said Parkhurst of the significance of the ribbon-cutting date.
“We’re available for bookings and private parties,” she said, pointing to a lineup that already includes a Halloween Goblin Bash and the “Greg and Dan Show Unplugged”(Nov. 23), a special performance by the morning radio team on WMBD 1470/100.3.
“Here at the art center, we’re also looking at a comedy series—‘Stand Up in the Heights,’” said Parkhurst, adding that youth events and live music programs were also scheduled.
The addition of air conditioning at the Scottish Rite site means that 900-seat venue would soon be open to larger shows, she noted.
Peoria Heights Mayor Mike Phelan expressed appreciation for the art center. “I spent time in the library as a child. It’s exciting to see it now under private ownership welcoming all walks of life. You can feel the energy here,” he said.
“Work was all done by local contractors while the Farnsworth Group, the architects involved, preserved the uniqueness of the building,” said Phelan, referring to the library’s design by the late architect Richard L. Doyle whose work is in evidence elsewhere in the Heights—Tower Park, Village Hall and the Congregational Church.
Also on hand at the Thursday ribbon-cutting of the Betty Jayne Brimmer Center was Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis who recalled a tour of the facility led by Blickenstaff several months earlier. “He said the band would be here, the bar would be there. He did it,” said Ardis admiringly.
Mark Misselhorn, chairman of Peoria’s Downtown Advisory Commission, liked what the center has to offer. “There’s a great vibe here plus it’s not duplicating anything else in the area,” he said.
Lee Wenger, recently retired from WCBU-FM, Peoria’s public radio station, gave the new center a thumbs-up as did Jonathon and Nikki Romain, busy developing an arts center of their own at the old Greeley School in Peoria’s North Valley.
“We had to come to see what they’ve done here,” said Jonathon Romain.
More information on the center is available at https://www.thebettyjayne.com