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The Mendel Center Experience

From dinners for 1,000 guests and elegant wedding receptions in the Grand Upton Hall, to business gatherings for a dozen people in one of our many meeting rooms, to concerts in Jenkins Theatre, the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center is your place for events in southwestern Michigan.

As you plan your next event, talk with us. Two performance stages and 12 meeting spaces with room for 10 to 1,600 people make this the most versatile performance, conference, and meeting center in the region. But it’s our service and commitment to the success of your event that create the Mendel Center experience. We will help you select the right space and build a plan for food, beverages, room set-up, and services to make this your best event yet.

Mendel Center History
The newly renamed Lake Michigan College Mendel Center Jenkins Theatre first opened its doors as the Mainstage in the fall of 1992. Its origins, however, date back to 1976 when the community challenged Lake Michigan College to sponsor the construction of a community center to meet educational and cultural needs of residents.

By securing a $5 million federal grant, the College responded in 1979 when it opened the Lake Michigan College Community Center. However, the portion originally designed as a 2,050-seat theater was unfinished due to a lack of funding.

The area now known as the Jenkins Theatre sat as an empty shell – nothing more than a dirt floor and pallets of bricks – for over a decade.

In 1990, under the leadership of then-LMC President Anne Mulder, the community rallied around the vision of completing the Mendel Center. Through a $5 million grant from the State of Michigan, a $1 million gift from private donors Herbert and Audre Mendel, a $1 million gift from Whirlpool Corp. through its foundation, and more than $2 million in support from community members and businesses, the Mendel Center as we know it today was completed.

The first season performance to take the spotlight in the completed 1,500-seat Mainstage theater was Chubby Checker and the Wildcats on Oct. 4, 1992. Since then, more than 700 Mendel Center Mainstage season events have entertained, enlightened, and educated nearly 600,000 patrons.

Among the nationally and internationally known names that have come to Southwest Michigan by way of the Mendel Center are Blue Man Group, William Shatner, Mannheim Steamroller, Itzhak Perlman, The Beach Boys, STOMP, the Broadway musical “Jersey Boys,” Vicki Lawrence, Jack Hanna, Peter Frampton, LeAnn Rimes, B.B. King, Henry Winkler, the Russian National Ballet, Smokey Robinson, and many more.

Operating as the largest non-profit performing arts venue in the region for more than three decades, the Mendel Center has promoted understanding, diversity, and greater empathy for the human experience through the arts. It has been and remains a window to the world for thousands of residents each year through programming for all ages and walks of life, enhancing the quality of life for all throughout our region.

On April 4, 2024, a new chapter for the venue began with the renaming of the Mainstage in honor of Rolfe Jenkins for his years of performance patronage and his generous gift to the College upon his passing in 2022. 


  • Grand Upton Hall with seating configurations up to 1,600
  • Additional 10,000 square feet of event space
  • Executive board room
  • 1,500-seat Mendel Center Jenkins Theatre
  • 250-seat Hanson Theatre
  • Preferred catering option and full bar service
  • Experienced event planners
  • Professional technical staff
  • Sound and lighting design


  • The Lake Michigan College Mendel Center season
  • Nationally and internationally recognized speakers as part of the Lake Michigan College Speaker Series
  • Lake Michigan College Visual & Performing Arts Department concerts and productions
  • Special engagements

Our location is also welcoming and accessible for your guests. Removed from the crowds and tourist centers, the quiet setting of the Mendel Center has ample, free parking adjacent to the building, and is easy to find. We are located on Lake Michigan College Benton Harbor campus within one mile of I-94 exit 30, as well as the US 31 Bypass exit 24. There are also more than 20 hotels and bed and breakfasts within a 10 minute drive.

The Mendel Center hosts a wide variety of events, including some for these long-time clients.

  • All-Star Driving School
  • Area Agency on Aging
  • Berrien Community Foundation
  • Berrien County Historical Society
  • Berrien RESA
  • Blossomtime
  • Children's Music Workshop
  • Citadel Dance Center
  • Cook Nuclear Plant
  • Fusion Center for Dance
  • Home and Garden Show
  • Lakeshore Excellence Foundation
  • Lest We Forget
  • Michigan Grape Society
  • Midwest Family Broadcasting
  • MSBOA District 6
  • Pokagon Band of Potawatomi
  • Readiness Center
  • Corewell Health
  • Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber
  • Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra
  • Southwest Michigan Association of Realtors
  • St. Joseph Today
  • United Way of Southwest Michigan
  • Whirlpool Corporation

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Box Office
Tickets are available through the website
Email for questions or more information

Box Office Hours
90 minutes before performances

Lake Michigan College Mendel Center
2755 E. Napier Avenue
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Lake Michigan College
LMC Visual and Performing Arts
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