After a decade of research, the story of the last original Warner Bros. theatre has been published. Erie’s Warner Theatre, first opened on April 10, 1931, has been a center for the region’s cultural life throughout its 78-year history. Originally designed as a picture palace and vaudeville house, it provided a venue for escape from troubles during the Depression. For decades it was at the center of Erie’s social life, but as television took hold, it lost much of its audience and was in danger of closure in the 1970s. Only with the intervention of Erie Mayor Lou Tullio did it survive the wrecking ball. This story is among the many tales that “A Picture Palace Transformed: How Erie’s Warner Theatre Survived a Changing World” presents.
Author Barbara J. Hauck has brought together the building’s history with stories of the people who managed the theatre and who enjoyed movies, performances and special events within its walls. Based on the works of Edinboro University professor Dr. John Marsh (deceased), she brings the reader to the present day and the Warner’s central place as Erie’s performing arts center. Combining research and interviews conducted by Brian Sheridan, she adds personal stories throughout the book. Photos of Erie’s past are coupled with stunning photographs by Erie photographer Art Becker, making this book a beautiful and rewarding look at one of Erie’s historical and cultural centerpieces.
Each of the individuals and companies involved with the production of this book have a personal connection to Erie’s Warner Theatre. This is intentional. All profits from the sale of this book benefit the Warner for restoration, expansion and maintenance of the building.
About the Author
Barbara J. Hauck has been executive director of the Warner Theatre Preservation Trust since 1996. Hired to spearhead a $13.5 million campaign to restore the theatre, Hauck quickly realized that a comprehensive history of the building did not exist. With help from the late Dr. John Marsh, a retired Edinboro University history professor; professional photographer Art Becker; and communication professor Brian Sheridan as researcher and contributing editor, this new book has emerged.
Although this is a first book publication for Hauck, she has written many articles for local magazines as well as text for numerous brochures and other printed documents. She is also an accomplished poet, painter and weaver. An advocate and activist for the arts, Hauck has worked for numerous arts organizations (including the Erie Philharmonic, ArtsErie and the ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum), written many arts grants and has volunteered her time to sit on panels that decide how statewide and local arts grants are distributed. Additionally, she teaches various visual art classes at the Neighborhood Art House, an after-school program run by the Benedictine Sisters of Erie for Erie’s inner-city youth.
Hauck earned an undergraduate degree in painting from Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, and a master of arts degree in Speech and Communication Studies with honors from Edinboro University of Pa., Edinboro, Pa.
Most recently she is a recipient of the ArtsErie 2009 Applause Award for her efforts on behalf of the arts community in Erie County, Pa.
About the Photographer
Art Becker studied fine art with renowned watercolorist Vitus J. Kaiser and photography at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. He spent a decade as a commercial photographer in Fort Lauderdale before returning to his hometown of Erie, PA, where he has continued his work in both commercial and fine art photography. He has merited over 64 local and national awards and has been featured in articles published in PEI Photography Magazine in 2000, View Camera Magazine in 2003, and Faith Magazine in 2007. His photographs have been published in Time Magazine, ESPN Magazine, Hallmark Cards, A & E Network, American Express, Random House Publishing, Faith Magazine, Visa Gold, British Airways and Windham Hill Records. His goal always has been to bridge the gap between fine art and commercial photography.
He enjoys the work of Vitus J. Kaiser, Barton L. Gilmore, Ansel Adams, Pete Turner and Miles Davis. Becker lives with his wife Kathy, their son Daniel and daughter Kristie on the shores of Lake Erie. You can view his photography at www.artbeckerphoto.com.
About the Contributing Author
Brian R. Sheridan, M.A., is on the communication department faculty at Mercyhurst College, in Erie. He also works as a television journalist for Actions News 24 and Fox 66.
He previously worked as a reporter and anchor. Sheridan has covered every type of news story and interviewed a variety of people from singer Tony Bennett, to Hillary Clinton, and the Dalai Lama. His history segments, “Erie Flashback”, won him an Erie County Historical Society’s Media Award.
His work has been seen on numerous networks such as CNN, Fox News, the BBC, and Fuji-TV. Sheridan also has written articles for many magazines including “Lake Erie Lifestyle,” “Classic Images,” and “Journal for Asian Martial Arts.”
Sheridan lives in Erie with his wife, Katherine, and their son Bennett. In his spare time, he bowls, enjoys jazz, books and movies, and studies the martial arts.
“What a gorgeous book!! We bought it the first day it was on sale, and we love it. The scope it covers is so impressive. As lifelong Erie residents, we feel a special connection to the Warner, from Sunday afternoon movies in the ’40s to Philharmonic concerts today. You captured the beautiful ‘Showplace of Erie’ perfectly! Thank you for giving us such a beautiful memento of one of our favorite places in Erie. We will treasure it!”
Erie Times-News gives the book a thumbs up, saying: “It’s a lush and informative book.”
For more information, please call 814-453-7117.