The Community Arts Center of Cambria County is celebrating its monumental 50 years of offering the very best in cultural arts throughout Cambria County. Through its founders, artists, volunteers, board members, and staff over this 50-year legacy, the Center has thrived and grown drastically. By fulfilling the community with diverse cultural experiences, the organization offers timeless fundraisers and events, while providing new opportunities in art, education and dynamic exhibitions. The purpose of the Community Arts Center of Cambria County, a non-profit organization, is to support, promote, strengthen, and interpret the creative, performing, and visual arts through education programs, exhibits, and special events.
Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center
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.
Stutzman Log House (1834)
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.
In 1969, operating out of the Palliser house, the Associates of the Allied Artists, as they became called, grew and flourished. By 1972, there were 800 members, and the response from the community was extremely supportive. As the vision and scope of the group expanded, it broadened its base of support to include all art endeavors in the area.
In 1975, the Borough of Westmont decided to sell the Palliser family property. A fundraising campaign to buy the property was begun by the Associates of the Allied Artists. It was so successful that the asking price of $60,000 was met, as well as raising an additional $46,000. A payment of $60,000 was made to the Westmont Borough Council for the 2.5 acre property. This additional amount was used to restore the Stutzman house to its original hand-hewn chestnut log structure and to renovate the interior to improve the house for exhibits, classes, a gift gallery, office and library. In 1978, the Log House was dedicated, and the structure was recognized and registered in Harrisburg as a Pennsylvania Historic Site.
With a more diverse audience attending all events, it was determined that a name change should be considered. In June of 1980, the name of the organization was changed to the Community Arts Center of Cambria County to reflect an even greater regional interest and involvement in the arts. Interest in the Log House as a venue for the arts was phenomenal. A director was appointed, exhibits and classes were held, and Art Scholarships were awarded. The Log House was used for theatre productions, outdoor concerts, Children's Art Camps, the Log House Arts Festival, the Festival of the Trees, and the Holly Bazaar, it provided education and entertainment for the entire Cambria County area and surrounding counties.
Through the expansion of activities, the Community Arts Center began to outgrow the Log House, it became apparent that more space was needed. The efforts of a Planning Committee formed in 1985 resulted in a 1987 building project. Through the generosity of Martin and Jane Goldhaber, the Jacob Fend Foundation, donations by other individuals, and monies earned by the Center’s activities, the cost of the building was donated in full. In November 1988, the Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center became a reality, premiering the facility with the annual Holly Bazaar and Festival of the Trees. The Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center is a spacious 9,200 square foot, two-story facility that houses the two Fend Children’s Center classrooms, the Marcia Ponas Warrick Memorial Doll Museum, a library, a kitchen, an office downstairs, a large classroom with cathedral ceiling, a large exhibition gallery, a stained glass studio, a pottery studio, and a glass fusion studio. All classes and primary exhibits are housed in the Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center.
To further enhance the expanded facility, in 1989 the pond area had fallen into disrepair and was dredged, cleaned, and restored by the Westwood Kiwanis Club as a gift to the community.
Now, 50 years later, a dream begun by a handful of artists and art enthusiasts interested in promoting the visual arts has become a reality. The Community Arts Center of Cambria County reaches out to a community of over 250,000 people as well as thousands of tourists each year from around the world.
After the retirement of Rose Mary Hagadus, the former Executive Director of the Center for over thirty-three years, the Community Arts Center of Cambria County continues to move forward under the leadership of Angela R. Godin, Executive Director. The longstanding programming is supported by over $70,550 awarded through Art Scholarships, ARTy pARTies, Exhibitions, Summer Art Camps for kids, art classes, workshops, summer Concerts-on-the-Green series, Log House Arts Festival, free art & craft demonstrations, weekly art gatherings, Outbound Art outreach programs, group tours, Great American Auction, Used Book Sale, Holly Bazaar Holiday Gift Shop, Basket Bonanza, and the Festival of Wooden Christmas Trees. Other programming includes the American Girl Doll Family-A-Fair, Celebrating a Legacy, Classic Car Cruise, Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre, Sky Dance Theatre featuring Bombyx Collective, and Ocean’s 11.
Through the generous donations of members of the community, we continue to expand and develop new visual and performing arts programs. Our future plans include the further development of the Arts Education Department with new workshops and more performing arts programming. As an organization that fosters the true appreciation of the arts by making them relevant to the people of Cambria County, and with a variety of programs geared towards the general population and families, the Center is able to reach a wide range of diverse individuals.
The Stutzman Log House continues to be actively used with administrative offices on the second floor. The first floor presents the permanent collection of one of its founders: Shirley Gaynor’s artwork, oil and watercolor paintings, and drawings. The Ponas Doll Museum is housed in the Goldhaber-Fend Center. The museum presents over 900 dolls and is known as the Marcia Ponas Warrick Memorial Collection.
Marcia Ponas Warrick Memorial Collection
Movene L. Ponas, RN and John Ponas, parents of Marcia Ponas, started collecting dolls when their daughter was born. Movene had an extensive doll collection including some of her mother’s dolls as well as some of her very first dolls. Some of the dolls date back to 1920. Mr. & Mrs. Ponas donated their doll collection to the Community Arts Center of Cambria County in 1987, in memory of their daughter Marcia. They also donated funds to build the museum and cabinetry where the dolls are housed.
Marcia Ponas (1946-1985) was very active in the Johnstown public schools in the area. She graduated from Westmont Hilltop High School in 1964, where she was a cheerleader, National Honor Society Student, and involved in student council, Y-teen, pep club, and the high school yearbook. Marcia was a Girl Scout for six years and earned thirteen merit badges. For three years she attended the University of Pittsburgh of Johnstown before transferring to University of Pittsburgh in 1968, graduating with a BA in Liberal Arts. After 7 years working as a social worker in Oregon, she returned to Johnstown, developed an interest in interior design, and attended the Pittsburgh Institute of Fine Arts. Marcia was married to Richard Warrick, an attorney for the Department of Defense. They moved to Washington, DC; Oklahoma City, OK; and Dallas, Texas. Marcia, on occasion, would purchase dolls for her mother, which became part of her mother’s doll collection. She also had a fondness for animals and was a regular volunteer at the Oklahoma Zoo. She died in 1985 in Dallas, Texas. Her mother’s extensive doll collection was donated in Marcia’s memory to the Community Arts Center in 1987. The main categories are Antique Handcrafted, Barbie, Bridal, Hummel, International, Norman Rockwell, Porcelain, Precious Moments, and Reproduction.
Shirley Gaynor Permanent Collection
Shirley Gaynor was one of the founder and visionaries of the Community Arts Center of Cambria County. Her committed support to the Center as Board President, in philanthropy, and as a charter member generated financial growth and aided in securing the funds to make the Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center a reality.
Born and educated in New York City, Shirley Gaynor attended a course in Cast Drawing at the National Academy of Design, and a course in Life Drawing at the Art Students League. She moved to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1949 when her husband Theodore accepted a position with Bethlehem Steel Corporation. More currently, she attended workshops given by Frank Webb, Herb Olds, Al Broullette, Diane Maxey, Barbara Buer, and Tony Couch.
Shirley had several one-person exhibits, entered group shows, and received numerous awards at local and state levels. Throughout the United States, many of Shirley’s painting and drawing collections were showcased in private and corporate exhibitions. Her works were accepted in the juried Triennial and Biennial Exhibits at the Southern Allegheny Museum of Art and in three juried Grand National Exhibitions of the American Artists Professional League in New York City. A watercolor painting and a drawing are in the permanent collection of the Southern Allegheny Museum of Arts in Loretto, Pennsylvania, and her signature piece, The Sunflower located in the Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Center. Since the 1950s, she painted, drew, and exhibited her artwork. Art was Shirley’s passion and she demonstrated this as a proud member of the Allied Artists of Johnstown and several other art organizations.
“It is the beauty and mystery of nature and the simplicity of everyday things, that continue to direct my art. Although I am in awe of places like the Grand Canyon, Pennsylvania’s rolling farmlands, the Conemaugh Gap, and other vistas…unique flower blossoms like the Amaryllis, colorful vegetables, seashells, or the exquisite iridescent feathers of hummingbirds and peacocks are those subjects that touch my heart and make me want to take pencil and brush in hand… The paintings and drawings in this exhibit are dedicated to my husband Ted, for his love and encouragement all during the creative process… and to my family and friends who expressed so much interest in the progress of the work.” -Shirley Gaynor
J. Ross Stewart is our President, leading an army of passionate people.
Meet the vibrant faces of the Community Arts Center!
Community Arts Center
of Cambria County
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.
Copyright © Community Arts Center of Cambria County. All rights reserved.
Located at: Mailing Address:
1217 Menoher Blvd PO Box 866
Johnstown, PA 15905 Johnstown, PA 15907