NEW CASTLE, Pa. (WKBN) — The Historic Warner Cascade Theatre Museum in New Castle officially opened on Saturday.
The Cascade was the Warner Brothers’ first theater. It opened Feb. 2, 1907. Now, it’s been turned into a museum with two theaters to honor the Warner Brothers legacy and where it all began.
“It’s the only one of its kind, it’s not another Warner Brothers theater, it’s the Warner Brothers theater,” said museum acting curator Bob Vargo.
The Warner brothers began by showing The Great Train Robbery during Youngstown’s summer county fairs. Once winter came, they turned a closed hotel into the Cascade.
Bob Vargo said the museum replicates the original theatre.
“They turned into a theatre, 99 chairs — and we do have one of the original chairs that they borrowed from the funeral home down the street,” Vargo said.
President of the Museum Jerry Kern said they have been researching and planning for the museum since 1994.
“We have some really unique and significant memorabilia in our museum that pertains to the history of the Warner family,” Kern said.
“It’s beautifully laid out, and it’s just amazing what they’ve done. I mean there are things there that I want copies of because I don’t have them, you know, like the immigration papers of my great-grandfather in 1888,” said Harry Warner’s granddaughter Cass Warner.
When Warner and Kern met in 1994, the building was about to be torn down. The ceiling had fallen in due to a snow storm. Together, they worked to save the building.
“I reached out to the head of the studio at the time, and the studio put up $150,000 to save it,” Warner said.
The Warner Brothers are celebrating their 100th anniversary April 4, 2023. Cass Warner said resilience was key to keeping this building alive, as well as the Warner Brothers’ success.
“They were pioneers and it’s because they never quit, anything that tried to stop them from getting to their goals, you know, was an incentive for them to do the next thing,” Warner said.