History

The Warner Brothers, A New Castle Legacy

In 1903 the young Warner Brothers traveled from town to town showing the first true motion picture feature, The Great Train Robbery,. They showed their film in tents, funeral homes and empty store rooms with borrowed chairs. They would turn the crank of their primitive projector while humming "Yankee Doodle Dandy," the same song early cameramen used to maintain an even cranking speed. The brothers soon discovered that the best audiences were in New Castle, PA.

 In 1907 the four Warner Brothers, Sam, Albert, Harry and Jack, opened their first theatre, the Cascade Picture Palace/Theatre, in the then thriving city of New Castle, PA. This was the inaugural step on a path that would eventually lead to a theatre film distribution and motion picture production empire. Our 501 c3 nonprofit corporation, established over a decade ago, and this website is dedicated to the history of this empire and the community "Where it all began". Welcome and please return often. Better yet, become a member and join our effort to rebuild the Cascade Theatre and Museum!

 

 

Several years ago, a group of civic-minded people, led by Jerry Kern of New Castle, PA, formed a non-profit, 501 c3 corporation named The Warner Film Center at the Cascade Theatre, Inc. The purpose of this organization is to pay tribute to the four Warner Brothers, Sam, Harry, Albert and Jack, who, in 1907, opened their first business, The Cascade Picture Palace Theatre, and to the community, New Castle, Pennsylvania, "Where It All Began."

The Warner Brothers Cascade Picture Palace/Theatre was the inaugural step on a path that would eventually lead to a theatre, film distribution and motion picture production empire. The Warner Brothers opened the Duquesne Film Distribution Company in 1910 to supply the growing demand for feature films. They ventured into movie production by opening a movie studio in Hollywood in 1923. They made history by making the first talking picture, The Jazz Singer, with Al Jolson, in 1929. In the 1930's the Warners merged with the giant First National Theatre Company to become the largest movie exhibitors in the world. In 1942, they produced what many consider their greatest film, Casablanca.

Our 501 c3 non-profit corporation, established several years ago, is dedicated to the history of these achievements and to the enrichment of the community, "Where It All Began." The goal of the Warner Film Center is to bring to life The Historic Warner Cascade Theatre multi-plex theatre, museum and gift shop as a lasting tribute to the Warner Brothers and their early film-making, as well as serving as a centerpiece for the rebirth of the downtown area of this once great city. We invite you to join us in this historic renaissance movement. All project profits will be fed back into

the project to assure its expansion, growth and to benefit an arts-based scholarship program.

Several years ago the venerable building used by the Warner Brothers for their first film exhibition business, at the corner of Mill Street and East Washington Street, was empty and considered disposable. Our non-profit corporation, through decisive civic action, helped acquire funds to rescue it. Although the building is well over a hundred years old, it is in excellent condition and currently undergoing renovation to become a contemporary office building. Roughly two-thirds of the building will be so utilized. Much of the remainder, including the original 1907 Warner Cascade Theatre, will be re-born as an entertainment complex and museum. The Historic Warner Cascade Theatre will combine 21st century film exhibition technology with early 20th century décor to honor the first steps of the Warner family into show business and display the rich heritage of New Castle.

Visitors to the restored Cascade auditoriums will see articulated mannequins in period attire, a Warner brother turning the crank on a primitive Kinetoscope projector, and even little Jack Warner, who would sometimes be called upon to sing O Sole Mio between reels in order to chase people from the theater who may have overstayed their welcome. The Historic Warner Cascade Theatre patrons can watch segments of early movies like The Great Train Robbery which will be digitally projected on replica screens similar in appearance to the original presentations.

The look of the expansive lobby/atrium area will reflect a bygone era and house an extensive concession stand and The Historic Warner CascadeTheatre /WB gift and souvenir shop, as well as areas where visitors can relax and watch excerpts from several documentaries about the Warner family and the growth of their business. A tableau area will recreate the living room of the Warner family home in Youngstown, Ohio circa 1907. The Historic Warner Cascade Theatre will build two auditoriums which will become loving restorations of the two original 100-seat Cascade auditoriums. Auditorium One will Re-create the "Nickelodeon," originally furnished with wooden chairs and a sparse décor. Auditorium Two will reflect what the brothers referred to as the "Gentry Room." Contemporary ladies and gentlemen would pay twenty-five cents for the posh experience of viewing films while seated in plush parlor chairs amidst Victorian décor, vases of fresh flowers, and a Warner sister playing accompaniment on the family pump organ.

There are many ways you can be a part of this exciting, landmark, community-focused project:

BECOME A CORPORATE SPONSOR

BECOME A DONOR MEMBER

BECOME A VOLUNTEER

CONTACT US AT:

The Historic Warner Cascade Theatre

PO BOX 665 New Castle, PA 16103

Phone: 724-614-6541
E-mail: customerservice@warnerfilmcenter.org

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