Cascade Picture Palace
11-15 S. Mill Street,
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Located in the heart of the New Castle, PA, downtown, The Cascade Picture Palace was the first theatre operated by the Warner Brothers. Well, almost. Actually, they began showing movies in the back room of a funeral parlor further along E. Washington Street. 50 or so folding chairs were set up and the single, hand-crank projector spooled out 7 minute novelty films on a 7 foot glass mirror.
The Warner’s lived in nearby Youngstown, OH and had earned some money with a primitive projector and portable screen and a tent. They moved from town to town showing brief films were ever they could attract an audience willing to view the new miracle. Pittsburgh, New Castle and Youngstown were burgeoning industrial centers at the time and, by 1903, any one of the three could have eventually grown into a major city.
The Warner’s found a sizable audience in New Castle with no competition. Pittsburgh’s Nickelodeon (the world’s first), was open and thriving. The movie theatre/funeral home was successful for more than two years. At various points it was called the Bijou (little gem) and the Pioneer. Several other store-front cinemas had popped up along Washington Street, including the Dome, Nixon, Star and Park Theatres. Not to be outdone, the Warner’s opened the Cascade Movie Palace a few doors down from the funeral home on February 2, 1907.
The Cascade Picture Palace featured real theatre seats and a permanent screen. The hand-crank projector displayed 7 minute episodes of the newly emerging feature films. Because the projectionist had to change reels every few minutes, each reel was advertised as ‘A Drama in 8 Acts’, or the like.
Time moved on and so did the Warner Brothers. Harry Warner moved to New York to handle their ever growing chain of palatial theatres and Jack Warner to Hollywood to produce films and establish the WB studio.
According to, now long gone, New Castle operators, the Warner’s wanted to build a fabulous theatre in New Castle to commemorate the start of their empire. As rumor goes, when word got out, the price of the land sky-rocketed. The plan for New Castle was abandoned and a theatre was built instead in Youngstown. The Warner Theatre/Powers Auditorium still stands and is home to the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra.
The site of the Cascade Picture Palace eventually became a Neisner 5 & 10 store and offices. In recent years a non-profit group has purchased this and other buildings in an attempt to create a memorial to the Warner Brothers. All that has seemed to evolve to date is a second floor, upscale restaurant which recently closed and a reproduction of the front of the Cascade Picture Palace in the buildings main lobby. The display includes an old seat and an equally old, but probably not from the Cascade, projector, complete with (sigh) CinemaScope lens. It would truly be nice to see a real Warner theatre opened as a tourist and historical commemorative.
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