The Coming of Age of an Idea

Designed by architect William Wesley Peters of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, the Norton Center originally opened in 1973 as the Centre College Regional Arts Center. Within the 85,000 square foot complex are stunning performance and exhibition spaces as well as exceptional academic facilities for art, music, and drama. The Center’s two theatres have drawn consistent praise from performers and audiences alike. The Norton Center for the Arts 1973 Opening Night Gala featured Verdi’s “OTELLO.” The first season featured the Krasnayarsk Dance Company of Siberia and the World premiere of the symphonic work “The City” by Rod McKuen. Since then the Center has helped make Danville a “powerhouse palace of culture” (Louisville Courier Journal).

William Wesley Peters
Renowned for his innovative organic structures, Norton Center architect William Wesley Peters holds a vital place in the history of 20th Century American architecture. A chief architect at Taliesin Associated Architects of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Peters collaborated with Wright for more than a quarter century on projects including Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum.

Centre College Norton Center For The Arts  Centre College Norton Center For The Arts

Still today, the Norton Center for the Arts is home to Centre College’s annual Norton Center performing arts season of professional touring presentations. It is also the primary venue on campus for music and theatrical productions, lectures and other convocations and live student entertainment. The Norton Center for the Arts is an internationally recognized performing arts center with state of the art facilities.  The Center hosts a world-class performing arts series and serves as a focal point for the College’s academic programs in dramatic arts and music. Centre College is often the place where important debates and political forums occur. In 2000 and 2012, the College was the home of the vice-presidental debate.

Centre College Norton Center For The Arts 2012 VP Debate   Centre College Norton Center For The Arts 2012 VP Debate

The Norton Center has two performance venues:

A 1,470-seat concert hall, which is known to have one of the finest acoustical designs in the country.

A warm and intimate 370-seat three-quarters round performance space.

The Norton Center also boasts a large art collection with many of the works on display in the Grand Foyer and throughout campus.  You can learn more about Visual Art at the Norton Center here.

Located at our entrances are two very important works of art:

Ex Astris (1978). The 14-foot, brass-plated sculpture by Louisville artist Tom Lear is located at the main entrance to the Newlin Hall foyer of the Norton Center for the Arts. Installed in 1978, the work was provided by an anonymous gift to Centre for its execution. The name means “from the stars.”

The Haven Gillespie Fountain and Plaza (1973, renovated in 1994 and 2010) was a gift made possible by Audrey R. Gillespie in memory of James Haven Gillespie 1888-1975 and his son Haven Lamont Gillespie 1910-1990.

Take a tour of the Norton Center’s Grand Foyer and Newlin Hall:

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Take a tour of the Weisiger Theatre:

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Grant Hall, adjacent to the Norton Center, is home to classrooms, studios, and faculty offices for the departments of dramatic arts and music. Grant includes recital halls, playing rooms, well-lit hardwood acting studios, and a versatile black box theatre for student productions.  Use the following links for more information on Centre College’s Dramatic Arts program and Music studies program.   Click here to read about Kentucky’s Governor’s School for the Arts at Centre College.

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