Built in 1929, the beautiful facility now known as the Clifton Center served generations as St. Frances of Rome Elementary School, and for forty-five years the building was a treasured gathering place for the entire neighborhood. After the school closed in 1975, the building was home to Stage One: the Louisville Children’s Theatre, where hundreds of young people made their performing debuts on the theater’s stage. In 1985, the facility became a school for special needs children and, later, home to Trinity High School’s drama program and other community theatre groups.
In 1989, the parish at St. Frances of Rome Church and a few community leaders began to restore the theatre to its original splendor, and in 1994 the Clifton Center was spun off as a separate, independent nonprofit organization to continue the renewal of the building and its role in the community.
Since the founding of the Clifton Center and its official designation as an independent nonprofit in 1996, hundreds of community members, civic leaders, and local companies have contributed more than $1.5 million dollars and countless hours of volunteer service to restore this wonderful building, including its centerpiece – the beautiful 500 seat Eifler Theatre, named after one of the many visionary leaders who made the Clifton Center a reality, the retired Pastor of St. Frances of Rome Church, Reverend John G. Eifler.
In 2010, the Clifton Center entered a new era in its history by committing itself to serve as “…a gathering place for art, culture, and ideas that enrich our community.” Through the presentation of concerts, films, art exhibits, lectures, and educational programs, the Clifton Center is establishing itself as an important venue for cultural expression and an important forum for the exchange of ideas.
The Center continues its role as a unique facility used by diverse groups of organizations and individuals for weddings, concerts, conferences, business meetings, workshops, dance recitals, and much more. Its office spaces are leased to nonprofit organizations, individual artists, and teachers, and it remains a vibrant center of the Clifton and Crescent Hill neighborhoods.