Supporting the Arts For oVER 100 years !
Our commitment to history in the restoration of Presser Hall has been a 25 year + endeavor that has awarded communities in mid Missouri with some of the best entertainment one could possibly see anywhere. After accomplishing such a daunting task as restoration, fund raising, and public events, Presser Arts Center has moved into the next phase of community service, by becoming a full “Performing Arts Center” offering a wide array of arts education.
So much has been preserved, accomplished, and achieved yet restoration is never finished. Please consider us when giving. We are a not-for-profit organization that truly appreciates our generous donors!
Presser Hall was originally part of the Hardin College Campus in Mexico, Missouri. Hardin College was the first female seminary in the state of Missouri founded in 1858. Theodore Presser initially provided the funds for the building of Presser Hall as a concert hall. Mr. Presser was a well known philanthropist and planted hundreds of Presser Halls all over the United States. We like to think of him as the “Johnny Appleseed of Music”.
There are 12 remaining Presser Halls in the country today.
Presser Hall in Mexico, Missouri was constructed in 1924 (July 18, 1924) and many famous performers have graced the Presser stage. Many thanks to the Restoration Society, the many board members over the years and the countless donors for providing a place that we can call home to house the cultural, fine art, and performing arts in our area!
Our 9-acre block is a tribute to Hardin College built in 1857 as a private female college. For the next half-century Hardin College flourished as an outstanding school for young women.
Governed by a Board of Trustees, Hardin benefited substantially from its founder, who initially donated nearly $40,000 and before his death had doubled that amount.
Classes began in the fall of 1873. Two academic courses were offered: Preparatory, consisting of basic primary studies, and Collegiate, covering advanced classes. Seventeen girls enrolled in the former, seventy-three in the latter. They expected “wide-awake and energetic teaching,” a high standard of scholarship and, besides class recitations, daily drills in penmanship, vocal music, drawing, and the correct use of the English language. Over the years methods and courses changed, with increasing emphasis upon the collegiate course. By 1901 Hardin was recognized as the first junior college in the state, her graduates being granted advanced standing at many institutions. Attracting students from Illinois, Kansas, Texas, California and the Indian Territory as well as Missouri, it maintained an enrollment of around two hundred and a reputation as a “highly superior small College.”
Once called the “Queen of Western Female Schools,” Hardin was not without honor at home. Hardin was designated as the Alpha Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa the international honor society in 1918, though the chapter later moved to Stephens when Hardin closed in 1931.
Theodore Presser, a wealthy philanthropist made his money in the music publishing industry in 1883. In 1916, Mr. Presser took steps to perpetualize his philanthropy by traveling across America planting Presser Halls. We call him the “Johnny Appleseed” of Music. There are 16 remaining Presser Halls in America today, all of them on college campuses.
In 1987 the Presser Hall Restoration Society formed to save the building from demolition.
In 2007 they hired Lois Brace to be the Executive Director to complete their dreams of an operational Performing Arts Center.
In 2017 the Presser Arts Center was opened offering new education spaces.