The first Warner Bros. cinema. reappears as historical film museum in New Castle

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NEW CASTLE — After six years of limited access, the historic Warner Cascade Warner Brothers Studios Theater Museum opens its doors to the public from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

This free event is for families, movie buffs and anyone interested in history. The public is invited to visit the museum, which sits on the site where brothers Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack Warner first opened the Cascade Picture Palace on February 2, 1907, a Commonwealth-recognized historic space. It was the start of the Warner Bros. movie empire.

At the museum, visitors are greeted by a Ken Cole mural of the street as it looked back in the day, a prime site for photo ops.

Gerald Kern, chairman and trustee of the museum, said the museum is New Castle’s unique historical attraction.

Gerald Kern, president and trustee of the new museum, prepares the facility for its opening.

Spend the afternoon surrounded by Warner Brothers memorabilia, including old movie projectors. Enjoy refreshments and meet special guest Cass Warner, an actress, screenwriter, producer and director who is the granddaughter of Harry Warner.

Cass Warner

Visitors can immerse themselves in the experience of what it was like over 110 years ago to sit in one of the first movie theaters and watch a story unfold on the screen in front of them. They can sit in plush seats in a small theater and watch the first storybook movie ever screened there, “The Great Train Robbery,” which Edwin S. Porter showed for the first time to a new- Yorkers in 1903. When the film was first shown at New York Castle, the Warner brothers had a hand-cranked projector with a sheet on the wall for a screen and chairs rented from Echol’s funeral home which were to be returned at the end of the show.

Initial opening:History of cinema: opening of the museum

Now the theater is an enjoyable state-of-the-art experience with comfortable, fully carpeted seating. Part of the ambiance is a Charlie Chaplin figurine ready at the box office to take the customer’s nickel for the show and the concession stand which displays Good ‘n Plenty, large Tootsie Rolls and Cracker Jack and other popular candies during the day.

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This is your chance to spend an afternoon immersed in the huge collection of movie memorabilia that Warner Brothers has brought to the world, including “Rin Tin Tin”, many classic films and Looney Tunes with Bugs Bunny.

To help with the celebration, Bugs Bunny will be there for photo ops and the cost will benefit the museum.

Kern said they will be celebrating his 100th birthday on April 4, 2023, and the grand opening helps kick off that celebration.

A copyrighted wall displays the Warner brothers’ photographic history of their parents, Benjamin and Pearl, who were born in a part of Russia that later became Poland. Harry, Albert and Sam were born there and Jack was born in Canada before the family emigrated to the United States. Warner’s history is extensively documented at the museum.

“Although the museum has been open on a limited basis for several years, we wanted to complete some major exhibits and expand others before doing a proper grand opening. The finishing touch was the installation of carpet throughout the museum. Come join us and introduce your family and friends,” Kern said. “Remember, there is only one early Warner Brothers theater and our museum is based in Warner Brothers Studios.

Robert Vargo, curator, former president and founder of Foundation Group International, established in 1976, has been involved in the design, renovation and operation of theaters, restaurants, places of worship and other performance venues in Europe, Central America and New Zealand.

“The museum officially opened in 2016 and we are planning this grand opening for when all renovations are complete,” Vargo said.

History in the making:Warner Bros. first cinema to reopen in New Castle

About fifteen years ago, the brick facade of the building fell into the street. No one was hurt, but the city wanted it torn down. Cass Warner was contacted by Kern and had the situation assessed. Warner Brothers pledged $150,000 and the State of Pennsylvania matched the grant, and the building was saved. A historic landmark also marks the spot.

Andrew Masich, then chairman of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, when the historical marker was installed in front of the theater.  He is now president and CEO of the Sen.  John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.

What: Inauguration

Where: Warner Cascade Theater Museum, 11 S. Mill Street, New Castle.

Riverplex Atrium – enter on Mill Street.

When: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday

Admission fee

Information: (724) 614-6541

The Warner Theater in Erie was also recently renovated and is open to the public.

Erie Warner Theater Photo Gallery:The Warner Theatre: Major Renovations Modernize Erie’s Iconic Theater

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