Jensen Center to expand in three phases

Major development plans announced

Project breaks ground in June, seeks community support!

The Jensen Community Center recently marked 35 years of serving the Tomorrow River community. With steady growth, along with increased participation in programs, events, and rentals, the Center is feeling some real but positive growing pains. Plans have been developed and are being finalized in an effort to meet the needs of the Center’s users and to continue to be a venue of choice in the Tomorrow River area for the next 35 years.

Known as the 3Stage Expansion Project, these plans encompass three components: an outdoor terrace to extend the Center outside, a necessary fire protection and sprinkler system, and a stage bump-out. The terrace and stage bump-out will serve to expand the Center’s usable space, while the fire protection and sprinkler system will ensure the Center’s safety and security. The cost of the three completed projects is estimated at $900,000.


Outdoor terrace: Alchemy Concrete used staff and user input to design plans for a 46-foot wide by 65-foot long southwest-facing terrace off the Center’s large Community Room, extending the Center’s usable space into the outdoors. The ground-level terrace will include a pergola, gas fire cauldron, conversation nooks, seating, and a covered shelter. Local gardeners will be asked to provide input in designing a native landscape merging the International Bank of Amherst walking trail and the terrace. Access to the space will be through new double doors in the west wall of the Community Room and also along a new concrete pathway from the current south kitchen entrance. In addition to offering an enhanced rental space, the terrace will be a multi-use area for parties, events, temperate weather meetings, lawn games, and other outdoor activities. When not being rented as an outdoor venue, the terrace will be available to the community on a first-come basis.

At press time, this portion of the project has had its bid approved, and construction is scheduled to begin in mid-June utilizing a generous gift by the International Bank of Amherst and others.


Fire protection and sprinkler system: A less-visible element of the 3Stage Expansion Project, this vitally important and necessary part of the expansion, though not as glamorous, includes a comprehensive fire alarm and sprinkler system throughout the Center. The earlier detection and suppression of fire in any part of the building is essential to user safety.


The stage: The success of many incredible productions during the past 35 years — including those by the Tomorrow River School District, Center Stage Productions, Tomorrow River Community Theater, Smokey Express’ Christmas Show, and Variety Productions — as well as a current increase in full capacity productions and concerts, are a testimony to the continuing popularity of live performing arts in the Tomorrow River Community. These growing and more ambitious programming efforts involving increased participation have shown that the backstage and side stage areas of the theater are no longer adequate to safely accommodate the many performers, props, sets, and new technology. While the visible stage will not grow, a desperately needed 24-foot by 24-foot bump-out extension to the west side of the stage will make a larger and more accessible wing that will make more room for performers as well as provide storage and staging for props and set pieces. Additional storage rooms on the north (a 12-foot wide by 70-foot long passageway) and west (a second 24-foot by 24-foot room) sides of the Center will also provide much-needed and often asked for accessible storage area for theater equipment as well as items used in the Center’s Youth Soccer program and in other Center events. Currently, many of these items are stuffed into a small storage shed that is nearing the end of its usability on the north side of the Center. The north side expansion area will also be used as a safer and more accessible passage for performers from one side of the stage to the other, thereby giving the actual stage some additional room.


How can you help? Since the Center’s beginnings, in large part as a result of prudent financial management of a portion of the generous bequest from the family of Lettie Jensen, the Center has not approached the public for a large capital campaign and has not received any taxpayer, municipal, or government funding in the past 35 years. Major updates of all existing interior spaces, including replacement of windows, a full remodel of the bathrooms, updated aesthetics in all rooms, and major repairs, have all been accomplished with invested funds. Maintenance, daily operations, and earlier updates have come from rentals, event ticket sales, advertising in the Community Spirit, and the Center’s low-key annual donor and sponsorship drive.

In the process of revisiting our mission, developing plans for the future, establishing budgets, and obtaining final bids for the terrace, the fire protection and sprinkler system, and the stage area, it has become evident that these projects cannot be completed without significant financial support from the community.

Permanent recognition on our terrace donor wall will be available for gifts of $1,000 or more, while all gifts will be recognized in the Community Spirit. Donations can be scheduled over the projected two years of the project, and naming rights are available for sizable contributions. Of course, donations of any amount are appreciated, and all donors may remain anonymous if they wish. Those choosing to be publicly recognized for their donation will be contacted to personalize that acknowledgement. Donations can be made on our website at, by mailing your contribution and the form found at the bottom of this page to the Jensen Community Center, 487 N. Main St., Amherst, WI 54406, or dropping those items off at the Center during regular business hours. The progress of this capital campaign will be shown on a large sign in front of the Center and in the Spirit. For donation questions, call Jensen Center Executive Director Brent Frankenhoff at (715) 824-5202.

Since each segment of the expansion project is independent of the other, we are able to begin construction on the terrace; however, the fire protection and sprinkler system as well as the stage add-ons cannot begin until a significant level of money has accumulated, and the sooner financing goals are reached, the lower the overall cost of the remaining two components will be.

In addition to financial support, the Jensen Center Board of Directors are looking to the community to spread the word to family, friends, and other potential donors who may not be aware of the Center’s plans but have benefited from programs offered over the years.

Regular updates are planned for the Spirit and on the Center’s Facebook and web page as the 3Stage Expansion project moves forward.

In the Tomorrow River Community, we don’t just grow, we thrive!! Thank you for your consideration.

A 46-foot wide by 65-foot long terrace with a covered shelter, pergola, gas fire cauldron, and cement seating will be added to the southwest side of the Jensen Center this summer to extend the Community Room’s usable space as well as being an inviting outdoor space for informal gatherings.


A pair of 24-foot by 24-foot rooms and a 12-foot by 70-foot passageway (all shown at upper right) will add much-needed storage and off-stage space for safer and more open accessibility to the existing stage area.


With the addition of more off-stage space, audiences can expect to enjoy even larger productions, with increased safety and ease of movement for the performers, in the years to come.


Stage productions with large casts, including the Amherst High School’s recent production of Willy Wonka: The Musical (left) and the Center’s annual Variety Show (right), put a huge strain on the available space in the current backstage area (center).


An overhead view of the Center’s new terrace.


A closer look at the plans for the planned trio of additions to the Center’s stage area and an exterior view of the west side of the Center.


Related Posts

To Subscribe

The Jensen Community Spirit is mailed at no charge to property owners and residents within the Tomorrow River (TR) School District. Residents outside of the school district that have students attending the TR Schools will also receive issues at no charge. Gift and other subscriptions to the Jensen Community Spirit are welcome and can be mailed to addresses in the continental United States for $30 for a one-year subscription. Subscriptions are not refundable but may be transferred.

Subscriptions delivered outside of the continental USA will need to be quoted for additional shipping costs.


Recent Articles

Editorial: By the numbers
July 1, 2024
Amherst Investment Bowl team places third at State
July 1, 2024
Setting records at State Track and Field
July 1, 2024

Post Category