History of the Community Center for the Performing Arts (CCPA)
In 1975 it was learned that the Hall would soon be sold and possibly demolished. To keep the building available to the community, a group of concerned users, performers, neighbors, and historical preservation enthusiasts organized the Community Center for the Performing Arts, a nonprofit 501 c (3) corporation.
On December 2, 1975, the leaseholder gave notice that he intended to exercise his option to sell the Hall. He informed 130 people who attended a basement meeting that he would give the community first option to buy the Hall at $75,000 but would need a $10,000 down payment within 13 days. To raise the money, supporters organized a WOWATHON: five days and nights of continuous entertainment! The WOWATHON began on Dec. 10 and, with support from the Oregon Country Fair, the Hoedads, KLCC, KZEL , and many others, the money was raised! Throughout its early years, the CCPA faced one crisis after another. Time and again, community support would save the W.O.W. Hall. Volunteerism, a few grants, increasing attendance, and severe austerity enabled the CCPA to pay off the Hall’s mortgage in 1983 completing the dream of making the facility, "community-owned and democratically operated."
In 1996 the W.O.W. Hall was officially designated a historic landmark by the National Register of Historic Places. "No building has stronger connections to Eugene’s yeasty culture," noted the Register-Guard.
In 2005 the CCPA kicked off its first major Capital Improvements Campaign, dubbed MORE WOW NOW. The campaign’s first goal was to buy the vacant property behind the building. The back lot was purchased from the City of Eugene in 2006 for a total cost of $55,000.
Since then, other projects have been completed to improve the Hall and reduce our sound impact on the neighborhood, including the installation of a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, added insulation of the attic, and refurbished windows.
We continue to find ways to preserve the building while keeping pace with our changing times.
The WOW Hall is a treasured Eugene institution, and we are the stewards of this valued venue.
History of Woodmen of the World
The corner of 8th and Lincoln has been a community gathering place since the days of city founder Eugene Skinner. The first building erected on the site was a small church; it was replaced in 1883 by a First Presbyterian Church building that was considered one Eugene’s finest public structures.
In 1880 the Woodmen of the World fraternal organization was formed in Omaha, Nebraska, and soon swept the western states. The Eugene chapter provided health benefits, life insurance, and burial costs while undertaking charitable and recreational activities for children and adults. Women participated through a sister organization, the Women of Woodcraft. When Joseph Cullen Root founded Woodmen of The World, he envisioned an organization dedicated to helping its fellow man. Its purpose was "to minister to the afflicted to relieve distress; to cast a sheltering arm about the defenseless living;... to encourage broad charitable views..."