The Palace Theatre
The Palace Theatre has been a major force in Westmoreland County’s cultural scene for generations. Opened September 2, 1926, as the Manos Theatre, The Palace Theatre today hosts the widest variety of live entertainment in the area in a beautifully renovated 1369-seat facility, located across from the county courthouse at 21 West Otterman Street in downtown Greensburg, PA.
Greensburg Garden & Civic Center
Greensburg Garden & Civic Center was built by philanthropist Katherine Mabis McKenna and donated to the City of Greensburg in 1969 as a memorial to her son, Mennel M. Smith. The Center is a multi-use facility managed by Westmoreland Cultural Trust and has become one of this area’s premier meeting, education, and special event facilities. Mrs. McKenna’s visionary design created a premier regional meeting and event facility now utilized by more than 100 organizations hosting 550+ events each year.
The Stark Hotel, as it was named from its opening in 1889, catered to increased traffic from a variety of new visitors to Greensburg. These visitors included “drummers” or traveling salesmen who arrived in town, rented a room, rented livery from one of the many livery stables in town, and went out into the surrounding communities to sell their wares to company stores, rural residents and door-to-door.
Hotels such as the Stark also benefited from Greensburg’s growth as a cultural center. A number of opera houses and theaters were built during this period, creating additional demand for rooms for traveling troupes and theater patrons alike. Increased activity at the Westmoreland County Courthouse also created the need for additional rooms.
It appears that the Stark Hotel underwent a few name changes during its history. It opened as the “Stark Hotel” in 1889. Sometime after the First World War, its name was changed to the “Merchants Hotel”, and then in 1951, it again was renamed “The New Merchants Hotel”. Throughout much of the 50s and 60s until its closing, the hotel was essentially a rooming house.
The Stark Block restoration project began in 1996 when the Werrin Family generously donated the office building located at 33 West Otterman Street to the Westmoreland Trust. In the fall of 2000, the owners of the adjacent Stark Building, approached the Trust with a proposal to sell the property. After evaluating the property and considering how it would fit into the Trust’s mission and plans, the Board of Directors approved the Stark Building’s purchase in 2001. Renovations returned two virtually unused buildings to productive reuse, creating what is now called the Stark Block.
Union Trust Building
The Union Trust Building was erected in 1921 on the site of the Null House, a hotel that was owned by Harrison Null and later Levi Portzer. The site had become a fixture in the history of the town because it was a popular place to stay and located very near the courthouse.
The Union Trust Company was formed in 1921 as one of the several emerging banks in Greensburg. It erected this building after purchasing the Null House property and opened for business about a year later. The building for many years had a corner clock that became a fixture in town, along with the more visible clock at the top of the Westmoreland County Jail behind the courthouse.
After the depression began in 1929, Union Trust merged into First National Bank in 1931. First National Bank became one of two banks that survived the Depression, later known as Southwest Bank and more recently First Commonwealth Bank. Since the merger with First National in 1931, the building has been used for offices, but the clock remained in place until more modern times.
In November 2004, Westmoreland Cultural Trust purchased the Union Trust Building from Red Oak Associates, LLP, and in September of 2005, relocated the Trust’s administration office to 102 N. Main Street.
The Union Trust Building has been an epicenter and home to seven start-up companies between 2005 and 2015, as part of the Trust’s business incubator program. In addition, it is home to Dante Bertani, Attorney at Law; Moody, McElrath & Johnston, Attorneys at Law; S&T Trust and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Laurel Region.
New in 2016, the Trust announced its art initiative, WCT’s Incubator for the Arts. Short-term 3-6 month leases for local and student artists include utilities, internet and 24-hour building access. Artist studios range in size and subsidized rental rates. Additional space is available for artists to host classes, exhibit their work and hold events to promote local art and art education in the community.