History of our PCA
The Portage Center for the Arts, Inc. was established in 1986, an
of PACT (Portage Area Community Theatre). In 1987, our building at 301
E. Cook here in Portage was purchased, and on October 31 of that year,
grand opening of the Zona Gale Center.
In 2003, in an effort to distinguish ourselves from Zona Gale's home
at the Portage), we changed our name to Portage Center for the
Arts, the name our 501(c)3 non-profit organization has carried all
We still honor
our famous Portage daughter with our Zona Gale Theatre.
Zona Gale (August 26, 1874 – December 27, 1938) was an American author and
became the first woman to win the
Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1921.
was born in Portage, Wisconsin, which she often used as a setting for
attended Wayland Academy in
Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, and later entered the University of Wisconsin-
from which she received a Bachelor of Literature degree in 1894, and
later a Master’s degree.
Drury Gallery is an intimate gallery space adjoining the Zona Gale
Theatre. In 2003, it was named in honor of Charles &
made the gallery possible. Currently, it is host to nine
month-long exhibits each
year, featuring the work of not only area artists,
but national and international artists as well.
of our Building
In 1854, according to the Portage Presbyterian
website, a committee, along
with Rev. William Wynkoop McNair, made plans for a "new" church. This brick edifice was built
in 1855 on the
northeast corner of Adams and Cook Streets at a cost of $13,000, and
in February 1856.
According to Portage:
A Sesquicentennial History (p. 39) by Michael J. Goc,
the steeple was toppled by a storm in 1871. In
May 1892, fire damaged the interior and the
congregation sold the damaged building to the Baptists, who renovated
according to Portage: A Sesquicentennial History
(p. 154), enlarged
the church building. Fire
in 1893, this time gutting the interior, and repairs were completed
The Baptist congregation used the church until 1938.
Another interesting note from Portage: A Sesquicentennial
History (p. 154): in 1904, the Baptist
to build a parsonage and while excavating the basement, they unearthed
of the old Catholic cemetery, including the coffin of pioneer Pierre
In 1938, the building was
sold to the Assembly of God Congregation. In 1986, the
Center for the Arts, Inc. was established and purchased the building,
renovating it for use as an Arts Center.