An Important Breakfast

Board Building Chicago Avenue Move

A chance encounter during a breakfast meeting becomes an important step in a new site for the MCA.

After I took over as president of the museum, we got into this whole concept that we wanted more space. We wanted a new building. And we had a lot of different views on the board as to what should happen. People wanted to go out and buy land. People wanted to go out and buy buildings. They wanted to rent space. We thought about taking over the Cultural Center. We even had—Larry Booth did some drawings to put a roof garden on top, and so forth. But there were a lot of complications with all that stuff. So I was having lunch with Allen Turner at the Park Hyatt. Not lunch—breakfast. At the Park Hyatt. And Governor Thompson came in with a group of three or four other people and sat down at a table almost next to us.

And I said to Allen, I said, "You know, this is interesting." There'd been a lot of talk about the armory space, and the governor's interest in keeping that in the civic community, if they moved out. And I said, "I'm going to go over and introduce myself." I'd never met Jim Thompson. I didn't know him from Adam, other than what he looked like. So I went over and introduced myself, and told him that we at the MCA would be very interested in that space. And he said, "Fine, I'd be interested too. Call Jim Riley, in my office, in Springfield, and arrange to meet with him." And we did.

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