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Built in the mid to late 1800s, the building was known as the First Salem United Methodist Church. The church remained active until 2010 when a merger with another Methodist congregation took place. The building sat empty for two years. Those seeking to revitalize and make a difference in Tamaqua pondered the possibilities of re-purposing an old church building.

In 2011 the Tamaqua Area Community Partnership purchased the building and held a series of community conversations asking for input on the future use of the space. From those early meetings a shared vision of using arts and culture as the next step in community development emerged. The Tamaqua Community Arts Center began with a handful of volunteers and a lot of determination.

In the years that followed, changes to the structure were made in an effort to mold the space into a functional and flourishing venue for the fine and performing arts. Keeping with the basic structure and history of the building, the stained glass windows remain in the Gallery which was once a chapel. The hard wood floors were restored to their original appearance. Walls that once separated children’s Sunday school classes now showcase the work of local artists. The first floor space now houses ADA-accessible bathrooms, a box office, and serves as an operations office for the arts center and the Tamaqua Area Community Partnership. The Gallery space is perfect for a variety of art classes, yoga, mommy-me classes, and community meetings.

In The Stitch, on our second floor, a modest stage was built as an extension to the pulpit in what was once the sanctuary. Pews were replaced with theater seating and high-top pub tables. The original chandeliers made of intricate steel castings with gold overlay still suspend overhead as a reminder of the building’s rich history and a time period not entirely forgotten.

The social hall has been developed into a full scale Clay Works Studio with pottery wheels, slab roller, an array of raw clay for molding, a kiln, shelves of traditional ceramics and a small gift shop displaying work created by students. This space is used in collaboration with Lehigh Carbon Community College for their Associates Degree in the Arts.

The art center seeks to be a safe place for everyone to learn, create and appreciate the fine and performing arts. Nearly seven days a week you can find all three floors bustling with activity. In addition to all the wonderful events you can find inside, we have also spearheaded and collaborated with the community at large to bring you large scale public art initiatives such as Dear Tamaqua, Tamaqua Has Heart, Raw Aspirations and Art of Escape Tamaqua.

We are always looking for new and exciting ways to build up our community and partner with others. With limited staff, volunteers make it all happen!  Be sure to stop in, take a tour, we’d love to meet you.

 

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