This unique complex, situated on the grounds of a 17.5-acre Kenosha County Park, overlooks Lake Michigan and features a conference center, with rooms for every need; a beautiful historic chapel; Durkee Mansion, a Civil War-era mansion; and Anderson Arts Center, a fine art gallery. The Griffin Observatory allows adventurers to see the universe from a historic setting, using modern technology. Following a four-year renovation, the 19th century astronomy laboratory has taken on new life as a stargazing, teaching and recreation facility. It’s open to the public on select nights.
Motorcoach tours are welcome by appointment. It’s a stunning venue for weddings, receptions and other important occasions. Conferences, business meetings, luncheons and other special events are hosted here as well.
THE HISTORY: Kemper Center had its beginning in 1861, as the private home of United States Senator Charles Durkee. In 1865, Senator Durkee’s home became a boarding school for young women. The Episcopal girl’s school became Kemper Hall in 1871, in memory of Bishop Jackson Kemper, the First Missionary Bishop for the Northwest Terretory of the American Episcopal Church. When the Episcopal Sisters of St. Mary assumed the leadership of the school in 1878, Kemper Hall also became the Mother House for the Western Province which then extended to the Pacific Ocean.
Kemper Hall celebrated its 105-year anniversary in 1974 when in granted diplomas to its 100th graduating class. Unable to staff and maintain the school any longer, the Sisters of St. Mary and the Kemper Hall Board of Directors decided to close the school and sell the buildings in 1975. Penny Palmer Enroth, a Kemper alumna, along with a group of other concerned alumnae and civic leaders, led the fight to keep Kemper Hall from private development. One year later, Kemper Center was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is now a Kenosha County park.
The former Kemper Hall Dining Room, Study Hall and other specialized classrooms have been transformed into a state-of-the-art Conference Center. The Chemistry Lab - the first chemistry lab for women in Wisconsin - is also part of the Conference Center. Space can also be rented in Ambrose Hall (the former convent), Simmons Auditorium, and the Kady B. Faulkner Building. The Kady B. Faulkner building was built to accommodate the growing bakery business operated by the Sisters of St. Mary. The Sisters and their helpers, the “Associates”, made and distributed communion wafers all over the world from their small Faulkner bakery. The most unique feature of the Faulkner building is an outdoor mosaic designated and constructed by Kady Faulkner, a Kemper Hall art teacher and watercolor artist. The mosaic was made from items Faulkner found on the Lake Michigan beach and depicts the making of altar bread and wine.
The mission of Kemper Center Inc. is to preserve the historic nature of the Kemper Center site and buildings, and offer programs that promote understanding of local history and all arts, while providing a historic setting for cultural, recreational and educational activities.
Volunteers are welcome in the following areas: tour guide, gardener, skilled trades, clerical, greeter, historical programs, and at Anderson Arts Center.
6501 Third Avenue, Kenosha
Meeting Rooms: 9
Kemper Center is a historical landmark, located on the shores of Lake Michigan. The sprawling 250,000 square feet of buildings are part of a 17.5 acre park that includes a conference center, a mansion, an art center and a Victorian rental hall. Business clientele have an opportunity to meet in a relaxed setting with a view of the Kemper Center's grounds from every room. There are comfortable accommodations for a private meeting of two, break-out rooms for thirty, or seminars for 250 people. The Kemper Center is located close to three airports, the Chicago METRA train station, and an Amtrak stop. Kemper will also arrange for food and beverage, offsite lodging, entertainment and transportation. Please contact the Director of Sales for information about creating a customized event for your company or organization.
Total Meeting Space: 8,245 sq. ft.
Number of Parking Spaces: 100
Room - Sq. Footage
Simmons Auditorium - 2,128
Founders Hall - 2,078
Study Hall - 1,332
Faulkner Building - 783
Ambrose East Room - 660
Library - 374
Ambrose West Room - 330
History Room - 320
Math Room - 240
The Carthage College Society of Physics Students and the Tremper Astronomical Society will be hosting public viewing nights at the Griffin Observatory on the Kemper Center campus.
Featuring live Big Band Music by “Southport Sound”. There will also be a cash bar with specialty themed drinks, complimentary dessert buffet & dancing.
The Durkee Mansion, one of Kenosha’s unique historical landmarks, is a cream brick Italianate, Victorian style home located among the Kemper Center properties on the lakefront. The 150 year old Civil War Mansion is totally restored to its original Victorian splendor.
The public is invited to tour the home April through October, when it will then close to prepare for the holiday season of tours (Christmas at Kemper).
Kemper opens to the public annually with a different theme to scare, haunt and excite you.
Christmas at Kemper is a series of holiday events at the historic Kemper Center. Events include:
November 25: Opening Night, 6 p.m. at Anderson Arts Center, 6603 Third Ave. Featuring an exhibition, auction and raffle of designer-decorated Christmas trees, wreaths and other holiday decorations. This is the 21st annual event. Admission is $25 per person.
Dates and times vary for: