NEPA Scene Staff

Scranton Cultural Center receives grant for theater repairs, hosts virtual events

Scranton Cultural Center receives grant for theater repairs, hosts virtual events
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From a press release:

Today, the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple announced that it received an $8,000 Community Needs Grant from the Scranton Area Community Foundation to assist with repairs to the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Theatre.

“Age, weather, and deterioration of the original plumbing created further damage to the theater wall, which required emergency repairs,” said Scranton Cultural Center Executive Director Deborah Moran Peterson.

“We are grateful to the SACF for this Community Needs Grant which helped to support us financially with this unanticipated expense.”

The emergency repairs, which were completed in January, addressed a drainage issue within the building’s original 1930s plumbing system that caused damage to the theatre walls. As a result, a portion of the ornate plaster cornice began to deteriorate. Temporary plumbing repairs were completed to divert the water appropriately, the damaged plaster cornice was removed and covered, and the wall was painted.

Plans are underway for a complete restoration of the theater within the next five to six years.

With the coronavirus pandemic canceling events or postponing them until 2021, the Scranton Cultural Center has been hosting shows online, such as the free Virtual Underground Microphone that features local artists performing live from the Raymond Hood Room in the lower level of the Masonic Temple. It streams on Facebook Live and YouTube on Tuesday nights from 7 p.m.-8 p.m.

Grammy-nominated songwriter and piano sensation Jim Brickman will also play a virtual Christmas concert on Sunday, Nov. 29, with proceeds benefiting the venue. Tickets are on sale now at

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the opening of Scranton’s historic Masonic Temple, which has served as the home of the Scranton Cultural Center for over three decades, so the organization has been celebrating this monumental milestone online through social media.

“Before the pandemic outbreak, we were brainstorming ideas for an on-site celebration because we believe our building doesn’t just belong to us, but the entire community,” Peterson said.

“Now, we’ve opted to shift our celebration to the digital sphere as a way to look back on 90 years of history and bring the community together during a time when we all need it the most.”

The virtual 90th anniversary celebration kicked off on May 18, which marked the official anniversary of the building’s opening in 1930.

The Scranton Cultural Center is housed in one of the most glorious pieces of architecture to be found in Scranton. Originally built as the Masonic Temple and Scottish Rite Cathedral, the building is significant as an example of the work of Raymond M. Hood (1881-1934), a prominent architect of the 1920s and early 1930s, and as a unique example of Neo-Gothic architecture in Scranton.

At approximately 180,000 square feet, the building houses two theaters, meeting rooms, and a grand ballroom, as well as numerous other rooms and areas. Over time, the Masonic Fraternity realized the need to utilize the facility in other collaborative ways, so a grassroots effort was launched to form a not-for-profit organization. The Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple remains dedicated to the preservation and improvement of the structure and to provide an ongoing programming resource for the community.

The unique partnership of the communities of Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Masonic Fraternity has proven successful and beneficial to all parties. Today, the SCC operates the facility as a regional performance and cultural hub. It serves as the residence for national tours of Broadway musicals and concerts and hosts a variety of many other national and regional artists, including memorable performances by Frank Sinatra, Rob Zombie, A Perfect Circle, Yul Brynner in “The King and I,” George Carlin, NSYNC, Britney Spears, Barry Manilow, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Doc Watson, and Bela Fleck. It also has kept to its earliest purposes by continuing to serve as the center of Masonic activity in the region.

The Scranton Cultural Center’s mission is to rejuvenate a national architectural treasure as a regional center for the arts, education, and community activity appealing to all. It is also committed to offering arts-integrated experiences to the regional school districts, home school groups, and charter schools, as well as the community at large.