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Historic Arts Venue Kicks-off Campaign for Building Accessibility

by WCR Center for the Arts

Historic Arts Venue Kicks-off Campaign for Building Accessibility

The WCR Center for the Arts, located at 140 N. Fifth Street, has kicked off a $350,000 capital campaign for building accessibility.  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 ready to embark on our WCR Accessibility Campaign which will open our doors further and allow the WCR Center for the Arts to play a larger role in the Downtown Reading arts community. You may not know that behind the charming front entrance on North 5th Street lies a grand 250-seat auditorium with exceptional acoustics and elegant historical architecture.  Our planned accessibility project will give our audience members with limited mobility the means by which to enjoy the variety of performances housed in our building.”

The project will maintain the historical integrity of the building and the front façade 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, while complimenting the historical beauty found on the front façade and internal design.

To date, the WCR has received project-related gifts from the Presser Foundation, the Holleran Donor-Advised Fund of Berks County Community Foundation, Customers Bank, 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.

For more information about the WCR Center for the Arts and campaign, please visit:

Donations for the WCR Accessibility Campaign can be mailed to:

William G. Koch & Associates, 2650 Westview Drive, Wyomissing PA 19610

Checks can be made out to WCR Center for the Arts