The Washington Community Center shall support and provide a home for community organizations, highlighting the talents of local performers, artists and ensembles as well as hosting regional, national and international touring productions.
The Washington Community Center was built in 1976 as a collaborative effort to bring a theater to the Washington, IA community.
The idea started in 1974 with a challenge by Richard McCleery, founder of the McCleery-Cummings Co. (a local firm that printed calendars in Washington County). McCleery would
put up the first $500,000 towards the proposed $750,000 center if the community came up with the rest. The community rose up to his challenge and then some - raising their contributions
when the cost of the building increased to $1 million.
A thoroughly community-oriented building, it used no government funds and the three major lowest bids for its construction came from local companies. McCleery was very proud of
how the community came together to support and build the theater.
The community center became the permanent home of the then-35 year old community theater tradition in town when it opened in 1976. McCleery's personal philosophy about the arts can be
summed up in the following quote:
"I don't feel that art is a frivolous extra. Art in all its forms can set the tone of a community. A place like this gives the people a place to express
quoted from the Des Moines Sunday Register, Sept. 26, 1976
The community center has since been the home to numerous Y's Men's, Community Theatre, HARP & High School productions as well as local dance competitions, touring performances and other local events. It continues to strive to provide art in its varied forms for the enrichment of the local community.