How the Wagner Performing Arts Center Came to Be

An Immigrant Story

To understand the origins of Monroe’s Wagner Performing Arts Center, you have to begin in Germany, 1870.

That was the year an ordinary 17-year-old boy named Georg Wagner left his country to seek a better life in America. (Name of his town? Sailing date? Alone or with family? Indentured?)  It is likely that he anglicized his name from German “Georg” to “George” upon his arrival in the states. Like many German immigrants of that era, he settled in Pennsylvania, where he found work in a lumber mill.  

George had been raised to be thrifty and industrious; he worked hard and saved his money. In the tradition of numerous successful immigrants to this country, within a few years was able to purchase the mill where he found his first employment.

The Pennsylvania Years


Now established in Pennsylvania, George married another German immigrant, Anna Margarete Neth. (George’s deceased older brother? was he an immigrant too?) Anna was the widow of George’s older brother, who had died _________________________. Anna brought with her a young son, Charles, from her first marriage. She George had two more children, Frank (DOB) and Rose (DOB). 

After many years in the business, George realized that the future of the timber industry lay in the vast forests of the Pacific Northwest. He sent Charles out west to find and purchase a mill. Charles 



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