Cambria City Church will be turned into a theater

CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – A former church building with decades of history will see new life thanks to Project Steeples, a campaign to transform old churches into exciting new places in a growing cultural district in Johnstown.

After more than a dozen years of vacancy, the old St. Columba’s Church building on Broad Street in Cambria City has stood since the early 1900s.

“The vision for this building is to make it a theater for the dramatic arts, we don’t have a theater or venue specifically dedicated to live theater,” said Dave Hurst, project manager for the Steeples project.

Hurst says that’s what the Steeples project is all about, breathing new life into old church buildings.

“So the goal is to encourage the community to stop thinking of this as an old vacant church and start thinking of it as a theater,” Hurst said.

John Skelley is the President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the oldest Irish Catholic fraternal organization in America. He says St. Columba’s Church is part of the original Irish parish.

“It was part of the Irish community and the church sat vacant for a while so it was converted from a church to a theater space,” Skelley said.

“It’s been 13 years since the building was opened and it’s been our privilege to bring it back to the community and open the doors, and we’re doing that through this Waking Columba event and it’s going to be really cool for the community for go back inside and see what it still looks like,” Steeples Project Board Chairman Kim Rauch said.

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The Waking Columba Weekend will take place on March 12 and 13 and will celebrate the Irish parish’s theatrical past and future.

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