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History of the Shaw Center

The Shaw Center has shone brightly for four decades.

Decoration Graphic

Shaw family statuesFrom the day the 1982 Homecoming play The Music Manpremiered as the first major production in The Shaw Center for the Performing Arts to the long-anticipated dedication of the new Shaw at the 2012 Homecoming, the vision of a family named Shaw has transformed how the people of southern Iowa and northern Missouri experience the arts.

Many years and thousands of plays, concerts, exhibitions, recitals, performances, church services, baccalaureates, lectures and forums later, the Shaw Center continues to shine as the cultural hub where Gracelanders and many others gather to be entertained, to rejoice and to celebrate.

JR ’56 and Carol Shaw have made the 2012 expansion of the Shaw Center possible. The original Shaw Center was a major project that other members of the Shaw family were involved in. The late Leslie E. “Les” Shaw ‘50 (JR’s brother), his wife Lois Phelps ’50 Shaw and The Shaw Family Foundation provided major funding for what has become a great landmark on Graceland’s Lamoni campus.

It was the wish of Les, JR, and sisters Dolly Shaw ’50 MacDonald and Bertha Shaw that The Shaw Center for the Performing Arts be named to honor their parents, Francis and Lottie Shaw, founders of the Shaw Family Foundation, whose bronze busts adorn the Shaw atrium. Over the years, this icon of the Shaw family has welcomed guests to myriad events, students to classes and workshops, and faculty and staff to a splendid workplace.