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Hot Spot Greetings from Hutchins Street Square: All things entertaining

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Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011 12:40 pm | Updated: 9:56 am, Sat May 28, 2011.

Located in the heart of Lodi, Hutchins Street Square is the hub for many forms of entertainment. Whether it’s attending a concert, play or art show, taking classes or even holding a wedding, the site is the gathering place for many local events.

The property on which the square stands was previously the old site of Lodi High School, where students graduated from 1913 through 1977. After a fire destroyed the adminstration building in 1974, the site was abandoned.

In 1980, the Lodi City Council voted to purchase the 10-acre site to build a community center. A foundation was formed, which began efforts to fundraise money to finance the reconstruction projects. Over the next 18 years, the abandoned site was transformed into the city’s main cultural and recreational center.

Jim Rodems, interim director for the Hutchins Street Square Community Center, says the foundation did an excellent job creating a multipurpose facility flexible enough for a number of functions.

“They did a great job of providing offerings for the community. There are a lot of cities that don’t have this type of building,” he said.

In 1982, a three-acre park was constructed. Three years later, the shell of the music building and the boys’ gymnasium were transformed into the Fine Arts Facility and Kirst Hall, where many public and private events are held today.

In 1989, the old girls’ gymnasium was reconstructed into the Senior Complex, which houses the Adult Day Care on the first floor and the indoor therapeutic swimming pool on the second floor.

Over the next seven years, the 73-year-old auditorium and cafeteria was renovated into the Performing Arts and Conference Center, which consists of a 789-seat theater with an orchestral pit, a 65-foot rotunda and multipurpose meeting room with connecting lobbies. After some finishing touches, the center was complete in 1998.

Rodems says allowing people to access the facility on a regular basis is a service the city needs to provide.

“I think this is where the center benefits the community as a whole. We give a facility for community groups to do what they want to do in a nice-scaled environment,” he said.

The skinny

What to eat: Bring a picnic lunch and sit on the picnic tables under the trellis. Afterwards, let the kids play on the playground.

What to do:

  • Enroll for a class. Various classes are taught for both youth and adults. Some of them include art, music, dance and photography. There are also signups for various sports, which are held at many parks throughout town.
  • Attend one of the many concerts or dance group performances that are held in the performing arts center. For tickets, box office hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Take a dip in the pool. There are open swim times for the public as well as scheduled times for swimming lessons and cardio water classes.
  • Seniors can take advantage of the senior center, which offers legal services, tax preparation, computer classes and social activities including games or knitting.
  • If you have a private event to plan, many spaces are available to rent such as banquet halls, performing arts theater, small meeting rooms, classrooms and an outdoor amphitheater.

Info: For general information, call 333-6782; for the box office, call 333-5500; for the senior center, call 369-6921; to book a room for an event, call 333-6800, ext. 2458. You may also visit www.hutchinsstreetsquare.com.

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