Effingham, IL – May 31, 2023, The Effingham County Chamber celebrates the opening of new businesses or locations and welcomes new Chamber members with ribbon cuttings, new member pictures, and other events and activities.

Historically located in Downtown Effingham, The Heart Theatre is an Art Deco theatre built in 1939 hoping for a breath of new life under new and current owner, Amy Van Bergen. Van Bergen was born in Effingham and owned property here until the 1990’s. She is now a retired non-profit executive living down in Florida.

The Heart opened in January 1940 and operated for decades under the ownership of Mike Stephens. It remained in operation until 2002, continuing for a few additional years, but ultimately shutting its doors in 2007. After years of being left to the elements, it was purchased by former Effingham native Tad Sligar with many outdoor repairs throughout the years until he listed the property for sale in 2017/2018.

Van Bergen purchased the Heart in the Summer of 2022 and immediately began working on what to do with this Effingham County landmark. A market feasibility study and community survey were done to help determine the future use of the building. Most recently in April 2023, The Heart Theatre was officially recognized and received approval to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was specifically nominated and approved based on its historic Art Moderne art deco architecture style.

Van Bergen hopes for “The Heart to be revived and reestablished as an anchor in Downtown Effingham for all to enjoy again.”

More information about The Heart Theatre can be found online at TheHeartTheatre.org or Instagram TheHearteTheatre.


About the Effingham County Chamber

Founded in 1917, the Effingham County Chamber is the county’s leading advocate and champion for business. The Chamber works to create a climate of growth and success in our community by providing leadership opportunities as well as volunteer programs and business-building initiatives that focus on the critical priorities of Effingham County businesses. By leveraging the support, talent, and resources of our members, the Effingham County Chamber is leading efforts to achieve business success and community growth.

For information on becoming a Chamber member, visit EffinghamCountyChamber.com, or contact Membership Director Becky Brown at (217) 342-4147.