Ambridge museum highlights western Pennsylvania music greats

AMBRIDGE — Skyliners, Vogues, Bobby Vinton, Perry Como. 

Jaggerz, Granatis, Lou Christie, B.E. Taylor.

The Marcels, Henry Mancini, Norm Nardini, Etta Cox, Donnie Iris … the list goes on.

If those musicians wrote or sang songs that mattered to you, consider a visit to the Performing Arts Legend Museum opening July 2 in Ambridge.

Tucked into a historic, 220-year-old brick house two blocks from Old Economy Village, the Performing Arts Legends Museum (PALM) is a treasure trove of musical artifacts from many of our region’s best known and most influential musical artists.

From gold records to a banana-yellow stage costume, and an arsenal of not-so-gently used guitars, the PALM’s walls and display areas tell a story of western Pennsylvania musicians who thrilled us, cheered us up, and made us stay out past our bedtimes. Situated at the intersection of 15th and Merchant streets in the Ambridge Historic District, PALM is educational for visitors and a trip down memory lane.

A stage outfit worn by Turtle Creek's The Vogues joins Elvis Presley memorabilia and a vintage drum collection in one room at the Performing Arts Legend Museum in Ambridge.

“They can see the impact that so many local artists have made in our personal lives and relive their glory days,” PALM founder Elbie Yaworsky said. “Almost 300 artifacts, gold records, signed photos, 45s, LPs and CDs framed and signed. You can feel the impact this region has had on the evolution of the performing arts.”

Yaworsky says he and his wife, Denise, invested over $250,000 into the complex, which also includes second floor Artist in Residence accommodations, and an attached garage tricked out into a modern performance studio that doubles as the rehearsal space for Yaworsky’s band, Hot Metal Horns.

The Performing Arts Legends Museum occupies this 220-year-old building in the Ambridge Historic District.

Yaworsky says he’s “super excited” about the PALM’s debut, though final details remain, including replacing the main air conditioning unit that failed last week.

Yaworsky and his team spent months designing the museum’s rooms, which are themed by decades but offer versatility. 

“We could rearrange every wall based upon receiving new artifacts,” he said. 

The 1950s room includes items like Elvis Presley’s yearbook, Perry Como gold records for “Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom”) and “Round and Round,” and an authentic ’50s diner booth, straight outta TV’s “Happy Days,” with a tabletop jukebox.

The 1950s room in the Performing Arts Legend Museum in Ambridge.

In the 1960s room are instruments, outfits and autographed photos from Pittsburgh jazz and blues aces like Walt Harper, Harold Betters, Joe Negri and Chizmo Charles, plus a stage jacket from The Vogues (“5 O’Clock World”).

Yaworsky, a drum aficionado, displays a collection of drums that includes a set from the 1950s, and a 1983 Black 9 ply Maple Pearl GLX 6 piece drum kit valued at over $20,000.

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