Bethany Beach’s Marnie Oursler Promotes Use of American Construction Products Through Marnie Homes

A spokeswoman for 84 Lumber’s Build American program, the 34-year-old contractor has built 28 homes in Bethany and is also set to receive her MBA from Duke University.


Published:

Oursler helped 84 Lumber roll out a Build American campaign in January.

Photo by Maria DeForrest

Marnie Oursler of Bethany Beach may be one of the few people to get accepted to a prestigious MBA program after admitting in an application letter that people thought she was crazy.

But after eating almost nothing other than peanut butter sandwiches for two years, Oursler, an $11-an-hour real estate assistant just two years out of college, had saved enough to buy a $250,000 house seven blocks from the ocean. Her intent: fix it up, then sell for a nice chunk of change. Her parents thought she’d lost her mind.

Oursler got busy. She bought materials with her credit cards and did much of the work herself. Nine months later, in 2004, she sold the home—and pocketed a cool $89,000. With the profit, she bought a new lot, then started building a home from scratch.

Oursler has parlayed the experience into the most successful custom home-building business at the beach. Her constant exploration and innovation have led her to another success: showing the country’s largest private supplier of construction materials that building American costs no more than the industry-wide practice of building with materials from around the world.

Now Oursler is a national spokeswoman for 84 Lumber’s Build American program. Together they hope to revitalize a sagging construction industry by boosting sales of American-made products and creating jobs. Oursler knows it can work. In her own small way, she’s done it.

Sitting at the dining table in her home—a beautiful place with soaring ceilings, custom millwork, random-width plank floors, and retro touches such as white subway tile in the bathroom and stained five-panel doors—Oursler smiles. “I like a challenge,” she says.

Oursler grew up around construction. Her great grandfather was a builder. So was her grandfather. So is her dad, Marvin Oursler, who would often park his daughter at job sites around their home in Calvert County, Maryland, before delivering her to softball practice or soccer games. “I was literally digging foundations, tying re-bar, sweeping houses, taking out trash, doing whatever a girl could do,” Oursler says.

She wasn’t much interested in construction, at least not that she nor her father were aware of then. Oursler preferred sports. Her skills landed her on a nationally ranked traveling softball team, as well as a position on the Maryland state soccer team. “Digging a ditch is no harder than sliding into second on your face,” Marvin Oursler says. “Marnie never was this dainty thing out there with the guys. And because of the sports, she related to the guys well.”

When it came time to choose a college, Oursler headed to the U.S. Naval Academy. The famous Plebe Summer, when new students, called “plebeians,” suffer through all manner of tests, “changed me forever,” Oursler says. “I have no fear that I can’t do anything.” Yet when her grandfather passed, she had a change of heart. “I was a good plebe. I just didn’t want to do it anymore.” So she left the academy, heading to East Carolina University on a softball scholarship. There she was named All Conference Big South Shortstop and earned All Conference Academic Honors three years straight, and her Division I team ranked 23rd in the country. She also served as an officer in the Chi Omega sorority. A dual major in information technology and education, she planned to become a teacher, like several of the women in her family, until she realized she didn’t like the school environment.

Soon after graduation in 2001, Oursler moved to her family’s beach house in Bethany while she tried to determine a new path. “My parents said that was OK,” she laughs, “as long as I didn’t work in a bar.” She landed a job as an assistant at a local real estate office. She also started to chart market trends. Based on that research, she identified her first property. By the time she started building her first home, her own, in 2005, she had taken a job as a saleswoman for a regional builder. She won several awards for her performance, but by 2007, the market had started to founder, and so did Oursler. She needed a challenge. By then, she had become acquainted with her neighbors, who had an extra lot they wanted to build on. With nothing to show but the home she’d just finished, a design sense inherited from her mother and a meticulously itemized bid, the 28-year-old persuaded the skeptical couple to make her their contractor. She finished the job ahead of schedule and under budget. Referrals started coming in.

Since then, Marnie Homes has built 28 houses around Bethany. Annual revenue grew from $450,000 at the start to $4 million last year. Oursler performs all design and building functions. Over the years—the worst in the history of the local building and real estate market—she has kept people employed and kept contractors in business. She also ended up building the first LEED-certified home in the state (the acronym stands for Leadership in Environmental Engineering and Design) and, at the request of another client, built a home with 95 percent of the materials produced in the United States.

Featured in the local paper, that house caught the attention of an executive at 84 Lumber. He reached out to Oursler. In August, she and 84 Lumber joined forces. The company has since found a way to make more American materials readily available, based on her action plan, and she has become the face of 84’s Build American campaign, a contractor who has proven that building American doesn’t cost a fortune. “We found that it’s pretty easy to do,” says Jeff Nobers, vice president of marketing for 84 Lumber.

Building all American includes mainly the basic materials—framing, sheathing, roofing, drywall, insulation, hardware. Some of those materials do cost more than foreign products, Nobers says, but through cost controls that save money in other areas, a home can be built for less than one with mostly foreign products, as Oursler has demonstrated—not to mention that American-made products are of superior quality.

With Oursler, 84 Lumber rolled out the Build American campaign at the International Homebuilders Show in Las Vegas in January. With 250 stores in 30 states, 84 Lumber has the might to promote awareness of the benefits of building American. “Marnie has found a way to make this very doable,” Nobers says. “Anything we can do to protect and create jobs and keep dollars in the U.S. is beneficial to the economy.”

Having built a successful business and hitting on a revolutionary idea, what’s a woman to do? If you’re Oursler, you go to Duke University. At 34, she is in the second of six terms in the Fuqua School of Business’ competitive Cross Continent MBA program. The program takes her to various countries for two weeks to provide global perspective on business, followed by several weeks of course work and group projects. No sooner had Oursler returned from Dubai, she left for Las Vegas.

“I stay busy,” Oursler laughs. “I love what I do. Right now I’m just taking it day by day. I don’t want to focus only on my career. I want to focus on my life and family. But I love being the national spokesman. We’ll see where this takes me.”  

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View map »


Sponsor: The University and Whist Club
Telephone: 302-658-5125
Contact Name: Stacey Inglis
Website »

More information

ORIGINS Rick Rothrock & Stan Smokler January 8 - April 22, 2019 Special Reception: Friday, January 11, 2019  5:30 - 7:30 PM Artist Talk | 6:30 PM The Delaware Contemporary...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 130-265-66466

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Slow down, settle your mind, and step into the quietude of the Museum’s Labyrinth.     

Cost: Free; donations are accepted to assist with maintenance.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
Wilmington, DE  19806


Website »

More information

In a continuing effort to prevent losing lives to overdoses, the Division of Public Health (DPH) will distribute free naloxone kits at clinics in March. If you or someone you care about is...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Delaware Tech — Terry Campus
100 Campus Drive
253 N.E. Front St.
Dover, DE  19904
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Sponsor: Division of Public Health
Telephone: 302-424-7140

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The Lighthouse Inc. Church presenta el servicio de la iglesia en espanol.  El servicio de la iglesia en espanol comenzia 14 de merzo de 2019.  Hables espanol?  Entonces este es el...

Cost: free

Where:
The Lighthouse Inc., Church
6 S Railroad Ave
Wyoming, DE  19934-1026
View map »


Sponsor: The Lighthouse Inc.Church
Telephone: 302-697-1472
Contact Name: Christopher Gore

More information

By Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee  Directed by Sanford Robbins  “It’s not about science versus religion. It is about the right to think.” Inspired by the sensational Scopes “Monkey...

Cost: 15-32

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
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Telephone: 302-831-2204
Website »

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Epilepsy Foundation of Delaware’s Yara’s Fund supports the emergency medication program.  Individuals with epilepsy, who struggle to pay for their medication can receive assistance...

Cost: NO COST - SHOE DRIVE

Where:
Bear-Glasgow YMCA
351 George Williams Way
Bear, DE  19702
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Sponsor: Kind Girls Rule The World
Telephone: (302) 219-0718
Contact Name: Valerie Nelson
Website »

More information

Jacalyn Beam “A Way of Seeing”  Plein Air landscape paintings from the Brandywine Valley and Delaware beaches. Opening Reception to Meet the Artist - Friday, March 1, 5...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19809
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

CCArts Winter class registrations are open   The Center for the Creative Arts presents its Winter 2019 class and workshop offerings. With over 50 classes and workshops there is...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
410 Upper Snuff Mill Row
410 Upper Snuff Mill Row
Hockessin, DE  19736
View map »


Telephone: 302-239-2434
Contact Name: Nicole Schmid
Website »

More information

From End Caste Apartheid to Smash Brahminical Patriarchy: The Art of Equality Labs February 25 – April 12, 2019 Curated by Thenmozhi Soundararajan Featuring: Khushboo Gulati | Maari...

Cost: 0

Where:
Asian Arts Initiative
1219 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA  19107
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Sponsor: Asian Arts Initiative
Telephone: 215-557-0455
Contact Name: Melissa
Website »

More information

TOTALLY MYTHOLOGICAL Henry Bermudez February 28 - April 25, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, March 1, 2019 5 - 9 PM | during first Friday Art loop 5:30 - 6:30 PM | Panel discussion,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

TIME STILLED, MY HAIR NARRATIVE A Draper Experiment by Tia Santana March 1 - April 28, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, March 1 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

A SENSE OF PLACE 47°-80° N Bethany Springer January 16 - May 12, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, February 1, 2019 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop A Sense of Place 47° - 80°...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

NEW HEIGHTS Erica Loustau  January 11 - December 11, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, January 11, 2019  7 - 9 PM Seeking to engage the unused space of our atrium lobby, artist...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

Schedule a private group tour followed by lunch or dinner with a historic, revolutionary war era presentation.* Ideal for conferences, corporate meetings, special interest groups. $25 per...

Cost: $25–$45

Where:
The University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Sponsor: The University and Whist Club
Telephone: 302-658-5125
Contact Name: Stacey Inglis
Website »

More information

ORIGINS Rick Rothrock & Stan Smokler January 8 - April 22, 2019 Special Reception: Friday, January 11, 2019  5:30 - 7:30 PM Artist Talk | 6:30 PM The Delaware Contemporary...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

More information

The Lighthouse Inc. Church presenta el servicio de la iglesia en espanol.  El servicio de la iglesia en espanol comenzia 14 de merzo de 2019.  Hables espanol?  Entonces este es el...

Cost: free

Where:
The Lighthouse Inc., Church
6 S Railroad Ave
Wyoming, DE  19934-1026
View map »


Sponsor: The Lighthouse Inc.Church
Telephone: 302-697-1472
Contact Name: Christopher Gore

More information

By Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee  Directed by Sanford Robbins  “It’s not about science versus religion. It is about the right to think.” Inspired by the sensational Scopes “Monkey...

Cost: 15-32

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Telephone: 302-831-2204
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

CCArts Winter class registrations are open   The Center for the Creative Arts presents its Winter 2019 class and workshop offerings. With over 50 classes and workshops there is...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
410 Upper Snuff Mill Row
410 Upper Snuff Mill Row
Hockessin, DE  19736
View map »


Telephone: 302-239-2434
Contact Name: Nicole Schmid
Website »

More information

Jacalyn Beam “A Way of Seeing”  Plein Air landscape paintings from the Brandywine Valley and Delaware beaches. Opening Reception to Meet the Artist - Friday, March 1, 5...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19809
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

A SENSE OF PLACE 47°-80° N Bethany Springer January 16 - May 12, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, February 1, 2019 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop A Sense of Place 47° - 80°...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

TIME STILLED, MY HAIR NARRATIVE A Draper Experiment by Tia Santana March 1 - April 28, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, March 1 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

TOTALLY MYTHOLOGICAL Henry Bermudez February 28 - April 25, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, March 1, 2019 5 - 9 PM | during first Friday Art loop 5:30 - 6:30 PM | Panel discussion,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

From End Caste Apartheid to Smash Brahminical Patriarchy: The Art of Equality Labs February 25 – April 12, 2019 Curated by Thenmozhi Soundararajan Featuring: Khushboo Gulati | Maari...

Cost: 0

Where:
Asian Arts Initiative
1219 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA  19107
View map »


Sponsor: Asian Arts Initiative
Telephone: 215-557-0455
Contact Name: Melissa
Website »

More information

NEW HEIGHTS Erica Loustau  January 11 - December 11, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, January 11, 2019  7 - 9 PM Seeking to engage the unused space of our atrium lobby, artist...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

Every Friday | 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.   Read a story fromFairy Tales to Nursery Rhymes, explore art, and create. Ages 2+. Family Friendly.  

Cost: Free to Members, $5 per child and one adult free for Non-Members.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentemere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Schedule a private group tour followed by lunch or dinner with a historic, revolutionary war era presentation.* Ideal for conferences, corporate meetings, special interest groups. $25 per...

Cost: $25–$45

Where:
The University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Sponsor: The University and Whist Club
Telephone: 302-658-5125
Contact Name: Stacey Inglis
Website »

More information

ORIGINS Rick Rothrock & Stan Smokler January 8 - April 22, 2019 Special Reception: Friday, January 11, 2019  5:30 - 7:30 PM Artist Talk | 6:30 PM The Delaware Contemporary...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

More information

The Lighthouse Inc. Church presenta el servicio de la iglesia en espanol.  El servicio de la iglesia en espanol comenzia 14 de merzo de 2019.  Hables espanol?  Entonces este es el...

Cost: free

Where:
The Lighthouse Inc., Church
6 S Railroad Ave
Wyoming, DE  19934-1026
View map »


Sponsor: The Lighthouse Inc.Church
Telephone: 302-697-1472
Contact Name: Christopher Gore

More information

Chadds Ford Elementary welcomes over 65 local and regional artists for the 70th Annual Art Sale & Show on March 22-23, 2019. Artists display and sell their art in an array...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Chadds Ford Elementary School
3 Baltimore Pike
Chadds Ford, PA  19317
View map »


Sponsor: Chadds Ford Elementary PTO
Contact Name: Kara Hyman
Website »

More information

By Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee  Directed by Sanford Robbins  “It’s not about science versus religion. It is about the right to think.” Inspired by the sensational Scopes “Monkey...

Cost: 15-32

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Telephone: 302-831-2204
Website »

More information

Poisoned apples. Glass slippers. Who needs ’em?! Not Snow White and her posse of disenchanted princesses in the hilarious hit musical that’s anything but Grimm. Forget the princesses...

Cost: $10 - $25

Where:
Bootless Stageworks
1301 N. Broom Street
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Telephone: 130-288-79300
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Jacalyn Beam “A Way of Seeing”  Plein Air landscape paintings from the Brandywine Valley and Delaware beaches. Opening Reception to Meet the Artist - Friday, March 1, 5...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19809
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

CCArts Winter class registrations are open   The Center for the Creative Arts presents its Winter 2019 class and workshop offerings. With over 50 classes and workshops there is...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
410 Upper Snuff Mill Row
410 Upper Snuff Mill Row
Hockessin, DE  19736
View map »


Telephone: 302-239-2434
Contact Name: Nicole Schmid
Website »

More information

TOTALLY MYTHOLOGICAL Henry Bermudez February 28 - April 25, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, March 1, 2019 5 - 9 PM | during first Friday Art loop 5:30 - 6:30 PM | Panel discussion,...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

TIME STILLED, MY HAIR NARRATIVE A Draper Experiment by Tia Santana March 1 - April 28, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, March 1 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop The Delaware...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

A SENSE OF PLACE 47°-80° N Bethany Springer January 16 - May 12, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, February 1, 2019 | 5 - 9 PM during Art Loop A Sense of Place 47° - 80°...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

Delaware & Pennsylvania Home Owners Thinking of selling your home? Whether you're just considering selling or have already started to prepare, our experts will walk you through...

Cost: FREE

Where:
INDEPENDENCE MALL
1601 Concord Pike, Suite 88
Wilmington, DE  19803
View map »


Sponsor: The Kat Geralis Home Team
Telephone: 302-575-1080
Contact Name: April Griffith
Website »

More information

NEW HEIGHTS Erica Loustau  January 11 - December 11, 2019 Opening Reception: Friday, January 11, 2019  7 - 9 PM Seeking to engage the unused space of our atrium lobby, artist...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

Schedule a private group tour followed by lunch or dinner with a historic, revolutionary war era presentation.* Ideal for conferences, corporate meetings, special interest groups. $25 per...

Cost: $25–$45

Where:
The University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Sponsor: The University and Whist Club
Telephone: 302-658-5125
Contact Name: Stacey Inglis
Website »

More information

Keeper Talks, 11:30am & 1:30pm, www.brandywinezoo.org (302) 571-7747 Join our keepers for daily talks about the animals here in the Zoo. Topics and animals change daily, so there’s always...

Cost: Adults $ 5, Seniors $4, Kids $3; free for under 3yrs and for members.

Where:
Brandywine Zoo
1001 North Park Drive
Wilmington, DE  19802
View map »


Website »

More information

ORIGINS Rick Rothrock & Stan Smokler January 8 - April 22, 2019 Special Reception: Friday, January 11, 2019  5:30 - 7:30 PM Artist Talk | 6:30 PM The Delaware Contemporary...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466

More information

Meet Marilyn A. Bauman, author of Edward L. Loper Sr., The Prophet of Color.     Image:Old Farm,1954. Edward Loper Sr. (1916–2011). Oil on canvas, 18 × 22...

Cost: Free with Museum admission.

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

ART & SOUL ART AUCTION AND CONTEMPORARY AFFAIR Saturday, March 23, 2019 7 - 10 PM VIP Pre-Party | 6 - 7 Celebrate our 40th anniversary at this glamorous event inspired by the...

Cost: $80 - $250

Where:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street
Wilmington, DE  19801
View map »


Telephone: 130-265-66466
Website »

More information

Chadds Ford Elementary welcomes over 65 local and regional artists for the 70th Annual Art Sale & Show on March 22-23, 2019. Artists display and sell their art in an array...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Chadds Ford Elementary School
3 Baltimore Pike
Chadds Ford, PA  19317
View map »


Sponsor: Chadds Ford Elementary PTO
Contact Name: Kara Hyman
Website »

More information

The Lighthouse Inc. Church presenta el servicio de la iglesia en espanol.  El servicio de la iglesia en espanol comenzia 14 de merzo de 2019.  Hables espanol?  Entonces este es el...

Cost: free

Where:
The Lighthouse Inc., Church
6 S Railroad Ave
Wyoming, DE  19934-1026
View map »


Sponsor: The Lighthouse Inc.Church
Telephone: 302-697-1472
Contact Name: Christopher Gore

More information

By Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee  Directed by Sanford Robbins  “It’s not about science versus religion. It is about the right to think.” Inspired by the sensational Scopes “Monkey...

Cost: 15-32

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Telephone: 302-831-2204
Website »

More information

Poisoned apples. Glass slippers. Who needs ’em?! Not Snow White and her posse of disenchanted princesses in the hilarious hit musical that’s anything but Grimm. Forget the princesses...

Cost: $10 - $25

Where:
Bootless Stageworks
1301 N. Broom Street
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Telephone: 130-288-79300
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

Sal "The Voice" Valentinetti comes to The Event Center at SugarHouse Casino on Saturday, March 23, at 8 p.m. Tickets go on sale Friday, Jan. 11, and cost $29 to $49.

Cost: $29-49

Where:
SugarHouse Casino
1001 N. Delaware Ave
Philadelphia, PA  19125
View map »


Website »

More information

The concerto grosso, one of the high baroque’s most varied and conversational forms, pivots on dialogue between an orchestra and groups of soloists. We perform masterpieces of the genre by...

Cost: $25-39

Where:
Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral
23 S. 38th St.
Philadelphia, PA  19104
View map »


Sponsor: Tempesta di Mare
Telephone: 215-755-8776
Contact Name: Ulrike Shapiro
Website »

More information

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