110 E. Lincoln Avenue,
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Cathedral, New Castle (Official)
Architects: R.G. Schmidt
Functions: Live Performances
Once one of the largest and most magnificent buildings of it’s type between New York and Chicago, this 2,800 seat auditorium has had a wide variety of entertainers grace its stage. From national stars like Jerry Seinfield to local treasures like the Pittsburgh Symphony, the New Castle Consistory Men’s Choir, and the New Castle Regional Ballet, the Scottish Rite Cathedral has something to offer everyone. The auditorium also boasts a Mueller 4-Console Organ, which has over 5,000 pipes to create its wonderful sounds. It is connected to a player piano, which is played from the organ keyboard. There are only two of these in existence.
The Scottish Rite Cathedral is the reality of a dream of the llustrious John S. Wallace, who lived next door to where the Cathedral now stands, and he wanted a place large enough for all Masonic groups to meet.
Following the financially devastating Great Depression, The Mason’s could no longer afford the building and, in 1970, it was sold to a private, non-profit group. In the late-1930’s and 1940’s David Victor, a PA theatre owner, and others ran first run movies in the massive (listed as 3,000-seat), ornate Cathedral auditorium. None found much success. Neither the community nor the film companies seemed interested in supporting this magnificent structure
The architect was Mr. R.G. Schmidt and the contractor firm was S.M. Seisel, both of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As they were building, they ran into quicksand, a rare find on the side of a hill! The quicksand rose from the back of the building, so to ensure the building was sound, they added piling. The cornerstone was laid in 1925. The ceremony for this event was quite an event for New Castle. Thousands of spectators joined the celebration. The Cathedral’s first official use was November 8, 1926.
The Cathedral website has much information and some good interior and exterior photos including the auditorium, ball rooms, etc. It is a very worthwhile site to visit, on line or in person.
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