About Us

History of Weathervane Playhouse

Old Weathervane BuildingFrom 1935 until 1951, Weathervane was housed in a modest carriage house barn on Marshall Avenue in Akron's Highland Square neighborhood. The "barn," as it was known, has long since been destroyed but there are still a few people who recall its cramped quarters and especially the energy and devotion of the four ladies, Grace Hower Crawford, Laurine Schwan, Helen Troesch and Muriel MacLachlan, who believed that Akron deserved the best in theater and that volunteers could make it all happen. These four women also persuaded their friends — and anyone else who was interested — to join the fledgling organization. Together, armed with an ambitious mission, Weathervane's founding volunteers swung open the Barn's doors and began to mount everything from light comedy to Shakespeare and opera in those early years.

Though the Barn is now only a memory, its rooftop weathervane gave the theater its name and logotype character, the Chanticleer Rooster.

Except for one year (1948) at the downtown Pythian Temple, the Barn was home to Weathervane until 1951 when the organization renovated a building on Copley Road to become a more accommodating 100-seat facility. In 1961, Weathervane hired its first professional director, Bob Belfance, who served in that capacity for a total of 26 seasons. Along with long-time custodian and ticket-office manager Nora Scott, the staff remained at two for many years, all the while relying on volunteer support. Paid guest directors and children's theater instructors served in part-time positions and Weathervane existed on a lean budget. Ticket-office receipts, along with donations and community support, helped Weathervane meet expenses and created a modest endowment fund. It is still volunteers who help nourish all of Weathervane's activities.

In the mid-1960's, a fund-raising drive resulted in construction of the present 263-seat facility which opened in 1970, one of the first enterprises at the head of the corridor into the present-day Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Thanks to Grace Hower Crawford's legacy, the mortgage on the present building has since been paid off. Growing audience demand for live entertainment and theater education continue to underscore Weathervane's needs for increased community support.

Over 70-plus years, Weathervane has constructed, torn down, recycled, painted and refitted stage settings for more than 500 productions (when Stage II and Youth Theater productions are included). We've stitched up hundreds of costumes, created lighting magic by the multi-watt, crafted reality out of scores of stage properties and, most of all, shared the gifts of talent displayed by well over 1,000 amateur performers, taking their performance curtain calls to the applause of probably more than 100,000 theater-goers over the years. This kind of effort is the result of volunteer dedication based on the founders' original philosophy that "all who can contribute are welcome."

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