Originally a canning factory, the building was built in 1912. After extensive renovations, the Schauer Center opened in February 2001, and now boasts the 571-seat Ruth A. Knoll Theater, the Suckow Family Art Gallery, The Lodge meeting rooms, a catering prep kitchen, rehearsal hall, dance studio, and Pikes Peak banquet room.
The building which houses the theater and the Wisconsin Automotive Museum (formerly Hartford Heritage Museum) was originally the Hartford Canning Co. The Hartford Canning Co. was founded in 1905. In 1918, a fire destroyed much of the building which was then rebuilt by early 1919. In 1930, Libby McNeil & Libby purchased that plant which once employed many of Hartford‟s residents. In 1979, Seneca Foods purchased the plant and continued to operate it until 1982. The plant closed its doors in 1983 and donated the building to Hartford Heritage, Inc. The Wisconsin Auto Museum was subsequently created and opened in 1986. The west end of the facility, which includes the footprint of the original building, sat empty until renovations were started in 1998 to create the Schauer Center.
Timeline of landmarks:
1995 - A gift of $1,000,000 from Fred and Bea Schauer creates Center Concept.
1997 - A cultural assessment was made in the community. A campaign begins known as the Centers Campaign with a threefold thrust for aquatics, entertainment, and recreation centers.
2000 - Inaugural season begins at various venues in the city and features The Kingston Trio, The Spencers, and the Wisconsin Singers. Inaugural concert Dec. 11, 2000 in the Ruth A. Knoll Theater featuring the Hartford Community Chorus.
2001 - Schauer Center Grand Opening: Mark Twain Tonight starring Hal Holbrook. Official dedication and ribbon cutting on February 4. Schauer Community School of the Arts program launched; Kettle Moraine Children's Choir founded with 32 children enrolled.
2004 - Community School of the Arts debuts Youth String Orchestra.
2005 - Hartford Masonic Lodge #120 announces $200,000 capital gift for upper floor renovations. Hartford Masonic Lodge and adjacent facilities dedicated. Schauer Center expands into space formerly occupied by Hartford Antique Mall. Ken and Janet Pike announce $100,000 capital gift for construction of “Pikes Peak” general purpose hall on upper level.
2006 - Pikes Peak banquet room complete. First "Community Night‟ held in partnership with the Slinger Advancement Association. Guild Dance Studio created on the second floor.
2007 - Community School of the Arts dance program begins. First annual Bridal Schauer & Event Faire held. Addition of the visual arts classroom off of the Suckow Family Art Gallery completed.
2011 – Community School of the Arts expands to satellite facility, the Creative Arts Studios on 30 S Johnson St.
2015 - New bar opens in the upper level of the Schauer Center, in the Suckow Family Art Gallery
2017 - First annual "Signature" Fundraising Event - New [Fiscal] Years Eve Party
2019 - Beverages allowed in theater using Schauer Center Spill-Proof cups
As a regional center for the arts, the Schauer Center's mission is "developing, supporting, and promoting the arts." Its vision is to serve as a vital resource that fosters, supports, and enriches the cultural, educational, and social well being of our regional community. The Center is a gathering place where people from all walks of life achieve a sense of belonging and benefit from enjoying and participating in the arts.
Developing, supporting, and promoting the arts by providing experiences that inspire creativity and connect people.