Historic Warner Cascade Theater Museum celebrates centennial of Warner Brothers


At the Historic Cascade Warner Theater Museum kids got an opportunity to take thier picture with not only Santa Clause, but Bugs Bunny the star of over three thousand cartoons, movies, and productions.


A Hometown parade kicked off the Holiday Season in New Castle which included a host of activities including ice sculpting, plus family fun. 

The day started early with some surprise guests for kids and parents who visited the Historic Warner Cascade Theater Museum inside the Riverplex.

In New Castle at the Historic Warner Cascade Theater Museum, kids got an opportunity to take their picture with not only Santa Claus, but Bugs Bunny the star of over three thousand cartoons, movies, and productions.

Inside the museum’s theater kids could enjoy one of their favorite Looney Tunes on the very same spot of the theater the Warner brothers opened called Cascade, where they showed silent films on February 2, 1907.

The brothers lived in Youngstown in 1906 and traveled to New Castle.

“Their first theater and the whole business, their whole legacy began here in New Castle in this very spot where we’re at today,” said Jerry Kern, President of the Board of Trustees.

The museum and theater have an exact copy of the first projector they used back in the day made by Thomas Edison. 

Plus the museum has the same make and model of the second projector they used in the second theater they opened in New Castle one month later. 

That theater they named Bijou. 

How the brothers began. 

Kern tells us they first showed movies at fairs and festivals. 

“Their landlady came to collect rent one month and mentioned her son had a movie projector for sale. They ended up buying it. It was a portable projector and they took this portable projector and they traveled to wherever there were people. If there was a fair or festival or any kind of event they were there and they either set up a tent or rented an empty storefront and they showed movies,” Kern added.

“Of all the places they traveled with their portable projector, they did their best in New Castle. New Castle was one of the fastest-growing cities in the whole country at that time,” Kern said.

But when it was winter they couldn’t show movies in a tent or travel so they decided to buy a permanent location.

We have a record of the very first movie they showed in New Castle. They put an ad in the paper saying Cascade Theater opened for business and the movie they were showing was The Great Train Robbery. That silent movie has survived today. It’s about 12 minutes long,” Kern said.

They were first known for showing movies. 

Then they bought and distributed movies.

Next, they moved to Hollywood, California where movies were being produced, and they started producing movies.

They grew so big they were advised to incorporate.

The museum preserves the history of some of the movies considered the greatest of all time, including Casa Blanca and the Maltese Falcon.

“They actually had a motto. Their motto we have displayed in our museum, is right to my right. It has they thought their movies should not just entertain, but enlighten, and educate” Kern emphasized.

In the past the penal system was unfair. People were whipped, and put in isolation, and cruel means were used for punishment. 

The movie, “I Was a Fugitive From a Chain Gang,” led to changes in the public attitudes about people incarcerated, and led to reforms in the penal system,” Kern said. 

The star in animation I think everyone knows is Bugs Bunny, and he is making a personal appearance today and has been welcoming children. Kids can get their picture taken with him,” Kern added.

During WWII there was a cartoon put out starring Bugs Bunny and because of that role in that cartoon, he has been designated an honorary Marine.

The museum in New Castle has a picture of Bugs Bunny in dress blues.

There are hundreds and hundreds of cartoons. There are a number of cartoons where Bugs Bunny is the star, but he became so popular that when the other Looney Tunes characters had their cartoons made Bugs Bunny made personal appearances in them including Space Jam.

Other popular Looney Tunes characters include Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Pepe’ Le Pew, and Wile E. Coyote, Foghorn Leghorn, Lola Bunny, The Tazmanian Devil, Tweety Bird, the Road Runner, and Yosemite Sam. 

A number of WB famous movies were produced during the war and helped put a spotlight on social issues. 

This year marks the 100-year anniversary when the company grew so big it incorporated.

Now an international corporation Warner Brothers continues to Entertain, Enlighten and Educate with Superheroes like Aquaman, to box office super hits like Barbie, and Flags of Our Fathers. 

The museum also has a superhero wall.

You can find a long list of superheroes and the movies WB produced online. 

Warner Brothers also has a connection to the beginning of the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program.

In 1948, the Director of Public Relations for Warner Brothers and his wife started an organization that repaired donated toys for kids whose parents couldn’t afford them. 

WB connection to USMC Toys for Tots

Warner Brothers also has a connection to the beginning of the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program.

In 1947 the program was launched by Marine Corps Reserve Major Bill Hendricks. 

His wife Diane had a few dolls made by hand and she asked her husband to deliver them to the agency that supports children in need.

Hendricks reported back to his wife he couldn’t find an agency that did that mission, so she suggested he create one.

Major Hendricks and the Marines in his reserve unit in LA collected and distributed over 5,000 toys that year.

The program was transformed into a national community action program the next year.

Back then when it started most of the toys donated were used toys that would be reparied or cleaned up and gifted.

In 1991 the IRS recognized the non-profit charity.

Now it collects new toys for kids who would otherwise do without a gift at Christmas.

Historic Cascade Museum in New Castle needs volunteers

The museum likes to be open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. but depends on volunteers to do that.

Volunteers are needed, primarily Docents, people who will be there to greet people and tell the history of the Warner Family and how they ended up in New Castle, and then moved to Hollywood, California.

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