Greensburg Garden and Civic Center to celebrate 50th anniversary |

Greensburg Garden and Civic Center to celebrate 50th anniversary

Shirley McMarlin
Courtesy of Westmoreland Cultural Trust
The Westmoreland Cultural Trust will host a 50th anniversary open house Oct. 25 in the Greensburg Garden and Civic Center.

A 50th anniversary open house is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Oct. 25 in the Greensburg Garden and Civic Center.

Hosted by the Westmoreland Cultural Trust, which manages and operates the facility, the event will offer visitors a chance to explore the center at 951 Old Salem Road, including its penthouse suite, and to learn more about its history.

WCT staff and representatives of the center’s tenant organizations will be on hand to speak with visitors. A string quartet provided by the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra will entertain.

Tenants of the center include CityReach Westmoreland, Greensburg Civic Theatre, Greensburg College Club, Greensburg Garden Center and Westmoreland Suzuki School of Music, along with the symphony and its Academy of Music. Its four conference rooms and 320-seat auditorium also provide space for events organized by many other local organizations.

The center also is registered as a Red Cross emergency shelter, according to events and facilities manager Jan Barsoum.

“We serve over 90 organizations per year, and host over 600 events a year,” Barsoum says. “When I started here (in 1996), we had about 80 events a year, so we’ve really grown. Our biggest year was 779 events.”

“I’m really proud of what we’ve done here since I started,” she adds.

The center was built by philanthropist Katherine Mabis McKenna as a memorial to her late son, Mennel Mabis Smith, as a way to fulfill her vision of creating a regional educational and cultural civic center, according to the cultural trust.

“McKenna’s years as a student of engineer drawing, horticulture and landscape design contributed to her visionary plan to ensure that the center was a multi-functioning facility for a variety of community organizations,” according to a trust press release.

The building, featuring glazed green brick and concrete-sheeted steel columns studded with marble chips, was deeded to the city of Greensburg in 1969 by the trustees of The Katherine and Mennel Smith Charitable Foundation.

“Initially governed by the Greensburg Garden & Civic Center Board of Directors, a five-member commission was appointed by city council in 1990 to oversee the center’s operation, as well as that of the board’s new acquisition, The Palace Theatre,” the trust says. “In 1992, the board voted to change the focus, and the name, of the governing body. The Westmoreland Trust (later renamed Westmoreland Cultural Trust), a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, was formed to manage and operate the GG&CC, as well as serve the community on a much larger scale.”

The Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation continues to provide support to the center.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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