This handsome Lombard Romanesque church building is The Steeples Project's biggest challenge – and greatest opportunity! Our vision remains to convert this building into a well-equipped theater for dramatic arts and use it as the venue for a professionally produced historical drama, presenting Johnstown's immigrant experience through narrative, music and dance. This multi-million dollar development – if achieved – would establish a significant new tourism asset in Johnstown that would complement already developed immigrant-themed attractions at the Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center and the Wagner-Ritter Steelworkers House Museum.

Saint Columba was always Cambria City's English-speaking parish. Founded by Irish immigrants in 1882, parish families originally built a combination church and school that survived the 1889 Johnstown Flood and still stands today at Chestnut Street and Tenth Avenue. Our Columba was built between 1913 and 1915.

The building was designed by architect John T. Comès of Pittsburgh, a prolific liturgical architect of the early 20th century, who created designs for more than 40 churches, including cathedrals in Wheeling, WV; Toledo, OH; and Salt Lake City, UT. Sculptor Charles Simon created the statuary and a variety of Celtic elements as decorative touches. And Comès brought in a frequent collaborator, liturgical artist Felix Lieftuchter, who painted a large oil-on-canvas mural on the apse wall titled "Christ and the Angels." The lower-left corner of the mural features a silhouette of a steel mill, an industrialist and struggling immigrant workers. Columba's stained glass features saints of the Church – including several Celtic figures – and was produced using a French technique known as "grisaille" (grayness), where shades of black and gray create depth in the images.

The Steeples Project's vision for Columba was inspired by historical pageants and dramas being performed in other parts of the United States, usually in outdoor amphitheaters. The Institute of Outdoor Theatre at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, works with outdoor theatres around the world and provides consulting services. Although our vision is for an indoor venue, the IOT recognizes the Johnstown Immigrant Drama as a concept compatible with the outdoor drama tradition, and the Institute is interested in working with 1901 Church.

Visit the IOT for more information.