Baker Community Center
101 S. 2nd Street
St. Charles, IL 60174
Located in downtown St. Charles
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Henry Rockwell Baker Memorial Community Center, which has served St. Charles residents as a Community Center for more than 80 years, was a gift to the community from Mr. and Mrs. Edward J. Baker. The building, which was dedicated in May of 1926, was conceived as a “living memorial” to their son, Henry Rockwell Baker, and to veterans of World War I. A bronze plate bearing the veterans’ names is located on an exterior wall adjacent to the main entrance.
The building was planned to be a central meeting place, a site for civic festivals, and municipal inaugurations and receptions, and a facility for educational, artistic, and recreational programs for the entire community. At the time of its dedication, the Center was called “a center for wholesome recreation, social opportunity, and the promotion of all that makes for noble character and upright, active citizenship.”
The Henry Rockwell Baker Memorial Community Center Board and the St. Charles Park District have worked together to implement the Baker family’s intent. In 1966, the BCC Board of Trustees signed an agreement with the Park District to provide office and recreation program space in exchange for management services, with each organization retaining its own separate identity and financial structure. This cooperation between the two agencies has benefited the community for the past 40 years.
Baker Community Center is a non-tax supported agency and receives a large portion of its funding from a trust that was established by Mr. Baker for the upkeep of the facility. Various improvements, remodeling, repairs, and redecorating have been made possible over the years by fund drives, gifts, interest on stocks and savings, rental income, and funds from the Baker Foundation. Major expenditures have been made for painting, carpeting, roofing work, electrical work, heating upgrading, new windows, new flooring and new furniture. To comply with provisions of the American with Disabilities Act, a ramp to the lower level was installed in 1992 on the east side of the building, and lower level restrooms were renovated.
Baker Community Center houses the Park District’s administrative offices including its finance and marketing departments and STC Underground, the community’s teen center, which opened in January of 2001. Many community groups and local organizations use the building for meetings and classes. Participants in the Park
District’s dance program practice weekly in the Collins Auditorium every spring and winter as they prepare for the annual dance recitals.
Originally, the basement housed a swimming pool with locker and shower facilities, three bowling alleys, and some game rooms. In the 1940s, various problems connected with the maintenance of the pool brought about its closing, and shortly thereafter it was abandoned altogether and covered over with three more bowling alleys. All of the alleys were removed prior to the completion of an earlier youth center - The Keg and The Roundabout - in the 1960s. Following the moving of the high school from the west side of town to the complex on Dunham Road, youth center activities in the Center tapered off and were replaced with senior activities that quickly became popular. To this day, the Valley Golden Agers use this facility for several functions including meetings, bingo, auctions and other special programs. STC Underground, the teen center, has revived teen activities and uses the lower level space on a regular basis.
The Baker Board and the Park District look forward to continuing their partnership for many years to come.