Located in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, the Community Arts Center reaches out to a community of 250,000 people, as well as thousands of tourists each year from around the world.
Meet the vibrant faces of the Community Arts Center!
J. Ross Stewart is our president, leading an army of passionate people.
This building hosts our art classes and workshops, Education Department, pottery studio, glass studio, rotating gallery, and is home to the Marcia Ponas Doll Museum.
This historic building is the original home of the Arts Center. It holds our administrative offices, and is home to the Shirley Gaynor Permanent Collection.
In 1834 a depression in the raw iron industry was just beginning. The processing of raw iron had been a growing business since 1810. The processed iron was shipped down the Conemaugh River and sold in Pittsburgh. In the early 1920’s, iron processing was developed in Westmoreland and Indiana counties, much closer to Pittsburgh, causing a lowering of the price.
Although people were leaving the community, Abram Stutzman chose to stay. His family was living in Kernville before Joseph Johns arrived and helped him lay out the city of Johnstown as a new century was beginning.
Abram Stutzman built five log houses, four in the city of Johnstown. In 1834 the heavy stone foundation of the Rev. Abram Stutzman’s new log house was built around a freshwater spring that flowed from the cellar of the house to form a pool by the wagon road – the only watering place in the mountain wilderness between Johnstown and Fort Ligonier. The log house was referred to for a hundred years as “Half Way House” because it was halfway between Johnstown and Mill Creek Furnace. As the only stop in this mountain wilderness, the Stutzman Log House became a “gathering place” for travelers and the community of Johnstown.
Because of the hospitable nature of Rev. Stuzman and his wife Sarah, the log house and pool became a stopping place much favored by all who came by on the wagon road. Refreshments were served graciously by the Stutzman family to all travelers who stopped, rested, and watered their horses in the pool. It’s said the house was never locked, the kitchen was never closed.
The house became, in time, a community center where people gathered for fun, games, religious services, and good food. As a circuit-riding Dunkard preacher, Abram Stutzman used the pool for baptisms. Rev. Stutzman’s daughters were married in the spacious parlor.
Since Abram was one of the few in his day who could read and write, his home performed a great service to the community. People came to him for all their needs, from letter-writing to instruction for their children.
The old house and pond stand today much as they did over 150 years ago, surrounded by several acres of grassy land – a nostalgic island in the center of one of Johnstown’s fine residential areas.
The citizens of the Greater Johnstown Area are fully aware of their historic and cultural significance and are dedicated to the preservation of the pool and log house. It is the only true, unspoiled picture we have of pioneer Johnstown, depicting a period in our history when man lived by his hands and the tools he held in those hands.
In the early 1900s – many years before the Community Arts Center of Cambria County was established in 1968 – Christopher Palliser, a “well-respected” farmer of British descent, purchased the log house and pond. (Nearby Christopher Street and Palliser Street are named for him.) Mr. Palliser first stocked the pond with 15-inch California brown bass until they were eventually eliminated by muskrats and one Jimmy Gore who apparently enjoyed nighttime fishing.
The Palliser family renovated the log house extensively, covering the exterior with stucco. The Palliser family willed the property to Westmont Borough, and in 1968, through the generosity of the Westmont Borough Council, the Johnstown Arts Associates moved into the former Palliser House. It was leased rent-free to the Arts Associates, the group of artists who formed the non-profit organization in 1968 to promote the arts by providing space for artists to exhibit their work and the visual arts in the area. This building provided a place to meet, house records, exhibit works and hold classes. It was the first step in the process of acquiring a permanent home for the Allied Artists.
In order for the building to be used as a public facility, it required a fire escape, steel doors, and other improvements. During this process, the original two-story log house structure built by Abram Stutzman, was discovered under the pink stucco exterior. It was destined to remain hidden there while the building was owned by Westmont Borough.
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