Winchester Little Theater

Stewart Bell Jr. Archives Room
Handley Regional Library / Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society

Winchester Little Theatre Collection, 2 WFCHS/THL

Scope and Content: This collection contains playbills, newsletters, news clippings and 1900s scrapbook. (2 boxes) Last updated 04/14.

Biographical/Historical: Founded in 1929, Winchester Little Theatre is an all-volunteer organization, and has been at the forefront of providing entertainment for the Winchester-Frederick County area. The theater began as the Winchester Theatre Guild. The first production presented three one-act plays, which opened on April 8, 1930, to an audience of over 400 in the Handley High School auditorium. The Winchester Community Theatre was its name, and it performed in many places including Handley and James Wood High Schools, the First Baptist Church on Piccadilly St., the George Washington Hotel, the Elks and Moose lodges, and outdoors at Abrams Delight. The theater group sometimes performed in unusual places, like storefronts, warehouses, and even a swimming pool building. The theater took a break during World War II, but started up again in 1946 with a benefit performance.

In 1957, the theater became the Bark Mill Players. They performed at Wolfe and Braddock streets on the second floor of a building, which had previously been a mill that produced a bark product used in tanning leather. Irvan O?Connell, who was long active in the theater, owned the building and helped build the theater, which had a small stage in the round and seated 96. The building eventually became a hazard in 1973, and the company was forced to move. In 1974, the theater began its new 1974 season as the Winchester Little Theatre in the former train station at 315 W. Boscawen Street. Built in the 1890s as a freight station for Pennsylvania Railroad Co., the building was acquired by the theater with a sealed bid of $57,000. A considerable amount of cleanup and renovation was conducted with volunteer labor at negligible cost to create the theater with 97 seats on three sides of a stage, a lobby, and necessary lighting and backstage rooms.

Today, the Winchester Little Theatre performs four or five plays a year, each of which runs for two or three long weekends. Each year members of the Winchester Little Theatre vote for the play of the year. The award is known as "The Barkie" in honor of the old Bark Mill. For more information, go to their web site .

Bibliography: Notes from the collection. including playbills, news clippings, and the theater sketch found in Box 1.

Cite As: Winchester Little Theatre Collection, 2 WFCHS/THL, Stewart Bell Jr. Archives, Handley Regional Library, Winchester, VA, USA.

See Also: Video Collection #1306, Box 2: "65 and Still Playing Around" 65th Anniversary Video of the Winchester Little Theatre with guest host Dick Helm

Box 1

Historic sketch, 2 leaves, typescript

List of plays known to have been produced by Winchester Little Theatre, 1929-1986,
3 leaves, 2 copies, typescript (photocopy)

News articles, unnumbered, printed photocopy

Newsletters, 2005 ? printed

Patten, Louisa A. ? 8 items, typescript and printed (photocopy)

Subscription Form 2005-2006, 1 item printed

Winchester Little Theatre Chronology, 1929-2005, 3 leaves, typescript (photocopy)

Winchester Little Theatre Playbills, 1933-1959, 29 items, printed

Winchester Little Theatre Playbills, 1960-1982, 27 items, printed

Winchester Little Theatre Playbills, 1993, 2005, 2011, 2014, 4 items, printed

BOX 2

Scrapbook of Mrs. Ella Hines McNally, on 1919-1920 season, Baltimore, Maryland (fragile)

MAPCASE 2, Drawer 10 (Oversized)

Poster, April 5, 1935, "Aren't We All," printed, color