Historically referred to as “The Castle,” the Wiltsie Performing Arts Center raised the curtain in 2011, and they haven’t looked back. Originally built all the way back in 1926 as a high school, The Castle was the state of Pennsylvania’s first million-dollar school. By the late 1990s, though, the school and venue had fallen into disrepair and was scheduled for demolition and re-construction as a different zoning category.
The Hazelton mayor at the time refused to allow the historic and beautiful building be demolished, and a crew of volunteer workers – the Castle Keepers – took over to maintain the building and renovate it from the inside out to once again make it the pride of the Hazelton area.
During that time, the Castle eventually applied for and was granted non-profit 501(c)3 status, allowing it to take donations to keep the renovations going, and maintain its status as a much-needed community center that would be a friend to the performing arts, children, and the greater neighborhood.
Fast forward a few years, and the Castle was humming a tune – literally. Naming rights came through a whopping $100,000 donation given in the name of the late Alice Callaway Wiltsie, and even more redevelopment and assistance money was procured to make the Castle a sight to behold for lovers of the performing and musical arts, hosting shows year-round and providing amazing acoustics.
Today, the fully restored auditorium feature a great deal of the old, classic interior design, the main curtains, and exquisite lattice work with original framing and all the little touches that make Wiltsie Performing Arts Center truly unique.
With an orchestra pit and full sound production facility opposite the stage, the Castle has every modern-day trapping to make it world-class, but with the charm of a classic older auditorium that makes it a beautiful place to see a musical act or show.
The best part of the Castle, though, is the community. It was literally re-built from the ground up because of the community, and as such, the Hazelton community takes a great deal of pride and love in the performing arts center. Shows come and go, and countless performers grace the stage, all experiencing how special and unique the Castle is and how important it is to the growth and development of the local theater and arts community, and Hazelton in general.
Because of all the amazing foresight and hard work of the community, locals across the region have a performing arts center that is truly world class, and that they can proudly call home as they take in productions and performances.
From orchestral performances and plays of all kinds, to hard rockers like Bret Michaels, the Castle can house it all when it comes to theater and the performing arts, and is sure to do it in style. Enjoy your next trip to the Castle, now that you know how it fits in the history and culture of Hazelton!
Marc S. Boriosi has many passions including writing, editing, producing, and modern culture. His company, The Levity Ball, is an innovative website that highlights the latest trends and most talented artists in fashion, music, and the arts.
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