Kemper Center

exterior of Kemper Center, beside Lake Michigan
Kemper Center in bloom
Simmons Auditorium at Kemper Center
morning room (ladies' parlor), Durkee Mansion, Kemper Center
Kemper Hall Conference Center, Kemper Center

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 (open select dates); and Anderson Arts Center, a fine art gallery (open during exhibits). 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.

Free admission to Durkee Mansion and Anderson Arts Center; donations gratefully accepted.

You can support Kemper through memberships, monetary and in-kind donations, event sponsorships, and more. Call the office for details.

Office hours Mon.-Fri. 8:30am-4:30pm


Kenosha Historic District

Kenosha has 4 National Register Historic Districts. Be sure to visit each: Library Park, 3rd Avenue, Pearl Street and Civic Center Park!


Lakeside Lounge at Kemper Center

2021 Dates: June 10, June 24, July 22, August 5, August 19

Nearby Things

dining icon
Things to do
Things To Do
Franks Diner

Kenosha 0.56 miles

PUBLIC Craft Brewing Co.

Kenosha 0.6 miles

Kaiser's Pizza & Pub

Kenosha 0.62 miles

Ashling on the Lough

Kenosha 0.62 miles

Sazzy B

Kenosha 0.63 miles

The 1844 Table & Mash

Kenosha 0.63 miles

The Café at The Stella

Kenosha 0.63 miles

Durkee Mansion

Kenosha 0 miles

Kemper Center

Kenosha 0 miles

Anderson Arts Center

Kenosha 0.13 miles

Eichelman Park and Beach

Kenosha 0.29 miles

Meeting & Event Space

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.

Plan Your Event

Facility Features:

Meeting Rooms: 9
Total Meeting Space: 8,245 sq. ft.
Catering Available
Number of Parking Spaces: 100

Room Square 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