The WCR Center for the Arts, located at 140 N. Fifth Street, has broken ground on its long-awaited building accessibility project, slated to conclude in Spring 2023.
The corresponding capital campaign kicked off in October 2022, and to date, has raised over $100,000. Ahead of its 20th anniversary in 2024, it is essential to the organization and Board of Directors to provide to the community improved accessibility into the historic venue.
Jayme Rhoads, President, Board of Directors shares, “We are excited to have finally broken ground with real progress after many months of planning. The installation of this lift will allow our audience members and performers, with limited mobility, the opportunity to now experience performances at our historic venue. We will expand our programming, increase partnerships, and enhance our role in the Downtown Reading arts community.”
Working with Olsen Design Group Architects and Ciatto Construction Company, the WCR Board of Directors assures that the project will maintain the historical integrity of the building.
The front façade and internal design will remain undisturbed. Funds will be used to construct a two-stop lift that will be inside a stair tower attached to the exterior of the rear of the building, incorporating the new lift into the existing structure. This addition will give improved access to the main audience floor and restrooms. It will also allow audience members and performers with limited mobility the opportunity to now experience performances at the historic WCR.
The WCR has received major project-related gifts from the Presser Foundation, the Holleran Donor-Advised Fund of Berks County Community Foundation, Customers Bank, the Marlin Miller Foundation, Reading Elevator, and the International Union of Elevator Constructors, Local 5, ‘Lift for A Vet’ program.
The Woman’s Club of Reading was formed in 1896 and acquired the historic property at 140 North Fifth Street in the Callowhill Historic District of Reading in 1919. The leaders of the Woman’s Club then had a large auditorium constructed dedicated to the primary purpose of educating and enlightening their membership and the wider community.
In fact, the building has been home to the ‘Friends of Chamber Music’ for over 50 years. Over several decades, membership declined and there was gradual deterioration of the building. In 2004, a group of community leaders came together to save the structure, which resulted in the creation of the WCR Center for the Arts. The mission of this non-profit is to preserve, revitalize, honor, and transform the facility as a center for cultural, social, and business events, with special focus on the performing arts.
The WCR has showcased a wide variety of music, theater, educational and children’s programming, including our own ‘WCR Presents’ series of performances. It continues to expand its partnerships with other organizations to build even stronger relations to support the arts community.