Wilkes University

Darte Center

Darte CenterThe "DDD" is actually the combination of two separate buildings -- one was constructed in 1965, the other in 1969.

In the basement of this building, is our Blackbox Theatre. This area is used for a practice room and can seat 60 people. A piano and lighting control are some equipment located in the Blackbox Theatre.

Our main auditorium, the Darling Theatre, is located on the first floor of the Darte Center and can seat 478 people. Its stage contains 3 trap doors and a hydraulic orchestra section which can be set in three positions. The lowest level is also used as a freight elevator to lift props to the stage, while the highest level lines up with the stage to provide extra room. This theatre also has 36 line sets and 300 stage lighting instruments.

  • On October 26, 1965, the first part of the Center for the Performing Arts, which included a theater, was dedicated in loving memory of Allan Hamilton Dickson and Kate Pettebone Dickson, father and mother of Dorothy Dickson Darte, a dedicated trustee and long-time benefactor of Wilkes.
  • A few years later, in 1969, a two-story building was added to complete the CPA. This section of the building housed the music and theater departments. Unfortunately, Ms. Darte passed away on July 2, 1969, just before the building's dedication on April 10, 1970. After Ms. Darte's death, her daughter, Katherine Darling, gave Wilkes permission to use her mother's name for the newly constructed addition to the Center for the Performing Arts. The building became known as the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center for the Performing Arts.

  • At a thirtieth anniversary ceremony held on October 15, 1995, the Center's theater was named in honor of Ms. Darte's grandson, Edward Darling, Jr. He was active in the theater program at Wilkes, however he passed away at the young age of 26.

    Despite the great contributions of Ms. Darte to the Wilkes community, she never permitted Wilkes to acknowledge her as a donor. In fact, President Eugene Farley often referred to her as "an anonoymous donor" in his speeches, even when she was listening in the audience.

    In addition to her contributions to Wilkes, Ms. Darte was the first female director of the Osterhout Free Library from 1945 to 1953, and was inducted into the Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania in 1962.

    Despite her years of deliberate anonymity, Dorothy Dickson Darte's generosity to Wilkes and love of the arts will long be remembered by those who pass by the corner of South and River Streets. In the building's dedication progam, Eugene Farley describes her devotion by noting, "Dorothy modestly and quietly did so much for Wilkes College, its students and the greater community."
In the mid to late 1800s the land on which the Dorothy Dickson Darte Center for the Performing Arts now stands was used as a depot for the Lehigh & Susquehanna Railroad. After the railroad station was removed, the property was bought by two wealthy brothers -- William and Charles Conyngham. Like so many others at that time, the brothers made their fortunes from the coal industry and subsequently built two of the largest mansions along the riverfront. The men were relatives of the owners of our current Conyngham Student Center, however, their homes were removed and the lot on which they stood remained empty until construction began on Wilkes' Center for the Performing Arts.