Bertha A. Frank, 1914-1990, a life-long resident of Morton, believed that the Morton community deserved a quality theater and arts center. Upon her passing, she willed the bulk of her estate to construct a performing arts center in Morton. The realization of her vision has provided a beautiful cultural setting for all residents of the Morton community. Bertha’s portrait is displayed in the lobby as a reminder of her vision and generous gift to the Morton community. Her legacy has benefited the entire community and will continue to do so for many generations.
Upon her passing in 1990, Bertha A. Frank left a majority of her estate as seed money for a fine arts center in Morton. $500,000 was the spark that led to over six years of hard work by the Bertha Frank Foundation to bring Bertha’s vision to reality. Caterpillar, Inc., through outright gifts and matching funds from employee gifts, donated $300,000 to the project. Four other donors, who have areas within the center named exclusively for their gifts, gave $100,000 or more to the project. In total, fundraising for the center through charitable gifts reached $2.137 million from the Morton community.
On August 8 and 9, 1997, the Bertha Frank Performing Arts Center celebrated its grand opening with a black-tie, invitation-only event which celebrated the success of the center’s construction. Local musicians performed for the first times on the stage in Caterpillar Theater. On August 10, 1997, the doors were open to the general public for viewing and tours. The opening night of the first fully arts-focused event was held just four days later on August 14, 1997. “Annie” – performed by the Morton Area Players – ran for two weeks of production.
The 464-seat Bertha Frank Performing Arts Center, attached to Morton High School, is the premier auditorium in Morton, Illinois. Utilized by all Morton Community Unit School District 709 schools, as well as the Morton Parks District, Morton Fine Arts, local and traveling artists, and notable speakers, the Bertha Frank Performing Arts Center hosts hundreds of private and public events each year. The center’s lobby is also host to receptions and smaller, more intimate awards ceremonies. Most recently, the Bertha Frank Performing Arts Center has become a wedding venue. We hope you will consider booking your next event with us!