Archive for arts

America’s Best Communities Update: The Frederick Stegmaier Mansion

Located on Franklin Street in downtown Wilkes-Barre, the Frederick Stegmaier Mansion is a gorgeous model of High Victorian architecture in the River Street Historic District.

A focal point of historical rehabilitation, the Frederick Stegmaier Mansion was restored to its former glory by current owner Joseph Matteo.

The building was the former home of the Stegmaier family, who are still recognized worldwide for their “Gold Medal” beer.

Their legacy is carried on in our area through continued production of their famous brews.  The mansion remained in the Stegmaier family for over 35 years, until it was purchased by Joseph Matteo.

In addition to Charles Stegmaier, the mansion has had only three other owners. It was originally constructed in approximately 1870 by local architect Missouria B. Houpt. He stayed in the building for 29 years, when it was purchased and maintained by Abram Nesbitt until 1906.

The Frederick Stegmaier Mansion now functions as an historic house museum, banquet facility, and grand bed and breakfast. It is host to weddings, private dinner parties, overnight stays, and historical tours.

The first floor of the mansion contains the entry foyer, ladies’ parlor, gentleman’s parlor, library, dining room, and kitchen. The second floor contains the mansion’s overnight rooms and suites, including Amelia’s Suite, the Gold Medal Room, the 1857 Lager Room, and the Brewmaster’s Suite.

Art and Entertainment in Wilkes-Barre: America’s Best Community

Arts, culture, dining, and entertainment are a huge part of Greater Wilkes-Barre. In Public Square alone, there are over 40 diverse restaurants within walking distance-including Asian, French, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, and Mexican cuisine. Our area is also home to many great entertainment establishments like the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, the Wyoming Valley Art League, and the Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre, to name a few.

Watch below to learn about the these establishments’  history and current projects, and see the wide array of dining options available downtown!

Thanks to the support of Frontier Communications and our local sponsor Scripps Network Interactive, the City of Wilkes-Barre was recently named a Quarterfinalist in Frontier Communications’ competition designed to identify America’s Best Community.

America’s Best Communities Update: Arts Entertainment

“I really believe this area has something to offer for everyone, and I would like to think the Kirby Center is one of those options. Our mainstream programming has grown in recent years to the point where people no longer have to drive to New York or Philadelphia to see some of the big name acts, because the Kirby Center is now bringing those acts to Wilkes-Barre.”-Will Beekman, Executive Director of the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts

Watch below as Will Beekman discusses the F.M. Kirby Center’s focus on arts and entertainment, and how this contributes to Wilkes-Barre being America’s Best Community.

Check back NEXT Friday for our upcoming full length video on how Greater Wilkes-Barre is becoming a regional center for arts, culture, dining, and entertainment.

Thanks to the support of Frontier Communications and our local sponsor Scripps Network Interactive, the City of Wilkes-Barre was recently named a Quarterfinalist in Frontier Communications’ competition designed to identify America’s Best Community.

MEMBER IN-FOCUS: F.M. Kirby Center

Written by Chamber Intern Meghan Flanagan READ HER BIO HERE

CSC_0591F.M. Kirby Center Executive Director Will Beekman and Director of Operations Drew Taylor hosted a backstage tour and talk for the Chamber of Commerce Interns, contributing to the interns’ weekly experiential activity.

During the tour, Drew Taylor explained the history of the F.M. Kirby Center building, and guided the interns through the layout of the theater, explaining how it has evolved since its transition from a movie theater to a performing arts center.


Perhaps the most complicated and intriguing aspect of the F.M. Kirby Center is its various names. Drew Taylor explained that throughout the years, from its opening in 1938 present day, the theater has had three different titles. The F.M. Kirby Center was first known as the Comerford Theater.

It became the Paramount Theater in the late 40’s, when the government broke up Comerford’s chain of theaters. To complicate this further, another theater opened across the street from the Paramount, and took the name Comerford. The Paramount name changed again in the 70’s in honor of the Kirby Family, who donated a large amount of money in order to keep the theater open.

The tour included the main theater area, where Drew Taylor spoke about the changes that took place when the theater became the F.M. Kirby Center. The seats were replaced entirely by new, larger chairs, and a two stories were added to the top of the stage house because high ceilings were needed for the movement of scenery and lighting.


Despite these changes, many aspects of the theater are original, and maintain the building’s historical roots. All of the decorative plaster, brass doors, and some of the lighting, particularly the use of Lumaline bulbs, are original.


The interns were able to see the downstairs dressing rooms, where performers can stay and shower, and the laundry room, where travelling acts can care for their costumes. The tour ended in what is now the gallery area, used for catering and pre and post show receptions. Drew Taylor explained that this room was a nursery in 1938, a place where parents could leave their children to play while they watched a movie.


Executive Director Will Beekman spoke to the interns about the art of marketing and booking performers, and how that process is a delicate balance act between offering a price that agents will be excited about, while still being able to practically satisfy the needs of the business.

The F.M. Kirby Center invests $40,000-50,000 yearly in events that support its mission. Will Beekman says “We do a Classical Arts Series every year because that is part of our mission. I would like to say that is what makes us the Kirby Center, doing events like the opera, world music, modern dance, ballet.”

The F.M. Kirby Center supports this mission, as well as its overall operation, by the aid of donors, the recruitment of members, grants, and by booking popular performance acts.


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