The El Campo Civic Center was conceived by, and taken on as a project by, the El Campo Rotary Club during the 1980-81 term of president Irvin Foytik. The first fund-raiser was held in March, 1981 and netted nearly $40,000. Since that time more than $300,000, has been raised by the club under succeeding presidents Bob Melanson, Jim Cannell, Don Davis, Dick Waddell, Dick Gould, Melvin "Bubba" Parker, Bob Noster and Josh McGown.
Other sources of income included four percent of local hotel-motel taxes dedicated by the City of El Campo; three $25,000 commitments by City Council from general funds; donations by many local organizations and individuals, including $25,000 from Rotarian Donald Duson.
In 1987 the Marshall and Lilly Johnson Foundation of Wharton provided a $250,000 grant that moved the idea toward becoming a reality. In early 1988 a plan was put together by City Manager Larry Keesler and City Attorney Richard Collins for the Kmart property on Hwy. 71 North with the City acquiring a 41,000 square foot building and paved parking lot valued at more than $1.2 million for only $500,000.
A joint Rotary-City committee named by President Bubba Parker and Mayor Cecil Davis had been visiting area civic centers for several months. Members were Irvin Foytik, Chairman; Fred Barbee, Jim Cannell, Gerald Collier, Glenn Frels, Dick Gould, Josh McCown, Elmer Neumann, Eddie Pool, Jr. and Richard Young from Rotary. Cecil Davis and Paul Soechting represented the City of El Campo with Larry Keesler and Bubba Parker representing both groups.
The front of the Civic Center was selected to blend in appearance with El Campo's "turn of the century" downtown buildings, and a floor plan was agreed upon, final plans were put out for bids. City Council awarded the general contractor bid to Edna Lumber Company and work began on the renovation in August, 1988.
The overall plan also included designing space for the El Campo Museum to be located within the facility.