Pieces of the Past: Small Town Connections

August 23, 2023

What do Grand Central Station and Struthers Library Theatre have in common? Surprisingly quite a bit!

I was on ham radio the other day talking with Dave Gervais who lives in Warren but used to live in New York City. He had read my story about the Library Theatre building. He commented that the Library Theatre was designed by the same guy that designed Grand Central Station! How could I have grown up in Warren and not know that?

Charles D. Wetmore was from Elmira, NY. At the same time, the Wetmore family in Warren was established in community leadership. Charles went to Harvard to be a lawyer, While he was there, he designed three of the dorms on campus. Whitney Warren just happened to get a look at the plans. Warren, an architect, was so impressed with Wetmore’s work he recruited him! Both men had their specialties. Warren knew how to connect with influential people and Wetmore knew how to design.

One of the richest men in the USA at the time was Thomas Struthers. The firm of Warren and Wetmore had established a great reputation. Since Warren was usually the guy that dug up work for the company, it would make sense that he used the Wetmore name liberally in making contact with Struthers.

Indeed what little research I’ve done does not connect Charles D. Wetmore to Lansing Wetmore’s descendants. I can’t help wondering if there might be something deeper than a good business relationship.

The Library Theatre building was on the way to a wrecking ball back in the late 70s. Only a concerned group of local citizenry could save it! Once the group got the building on the historic places list the mission went from salvage history to restoring a community treasure. In the mid-80s the group raised funds to restore it. Some three decades later many of the same people began a new mission to improve it. Things like the impressive outdoor elevator, the bar where Turner Radio and TV was, and handicap accessibility topped the list of improvements. All this while preserving the historic design.

The Struthers Library Theatre is a shining example of community spirit.

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