Open Hand Theater

Explore the Castle

"The Castle" on the corner of North Salina Street, Ash Street and Prospect Avenue was built in 1890 by Charles L. Hoffman, President of the National Brewing Company, as an enchanting Victorian home for his family. Over the years The Castle has been a home filled with the laughter of children and a place of gracious entertainment. It has also been a fraternal lodge, a union hall, and community arts center.

Hoffman specified that the building be a one-third scale reconstruction of a castle on the Neckar River in his native Germany. The original cost of the project was $75,000, a princely sum in those days. But then, nothing was spared.

Castle Slide Show

Carved floral details surround the doorways and doorknobs. The trim around keyholes are solid etched brass. Sliding pocket doors separate the main rooms and the newel post in the foyer is topped with a huge grooved globe.

The floors are geometrically accented, polished hardwood. Even the lowly fireboxes in the fireplaces are handsome eagle designs in brass.

Hoffman was to live only a few years in his beautiful home. His widow, Augusta, lived there for a decade after his death. The house eventually passed to Michael C. Wirth, a dealer in butcher supplies. In 1923, Vito Stabile, a successful fruit and vegetable dealer moved his large family into the home and filled it with warmth and hospitality until the Depression forced them into a smaller home. During the War years, the house sat empty.

In the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's, it was a Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, headquarters for the United Auto Workers Local 854 and the Italian War Veterans Post. Bobby Kennedy addressed a crowd from the steps of the castle when he was a U.S. Senator.

Serious restoration work began in 1983 when the Grace Baptist Church purchased the property. In 1990, Bonnie Campbell-Cefalo purchased the castle to house a bridal shop. She continued the restoration by uncovering the inlaid wood floors and the original painted ceiling. She also restored the woodwork and commissioned local artist Rose Viviano to create the stunning stained glass windows on the staircase and next to the fireplace in the front hallway.

Open Hand Theater assumed stewardship for this wonderful building in 1999. The theater has transformed the Castle into a unique cultural resource that provides enchanting arts programs for many generations. Working in partnership with community, businesses and government, Open Hand Theater has been a cornerstone in the revitalization of this historic neighborhood.

Certainly, the Old Castle is smiling once again being filled with the sound of laughing children.

Open Hand Theater · 518 Prospect Avenue, Syracuse, NY 13208-2523 · (315) 476-0466 ·