A Community Project

It was early spring, 1960, when a half-dozen women drifted into the school hot lunch room to talk over cookies and coffee following a meeting of the P.T.A. They deplored the lack of local movies, and they regretted the closing of the Wieting building, which would lose its trust fund income in the fall of 1969, unless it reopened.

As a result of that impromptu meeting the first “Wieting meeting” was held April 7, 1960, at the Community Building with 40 citizens in attendance. They organized the Toledo Community Theatre Guild, wrote a constitution, attracted others to the organization; and on May 18, 1960, 60 volunteers gathered in the Wieting lobby. They found the theatre musty, cobwebby, full of dreams and promise.

An executive committee was chosen. They included: Mrs. Willard Beadle (chairman), Mrs. Virgil Wulff, Mrs. Charles Maplethorpe Jr., Leo Benda, and Dallas Sloan. A grand experiment was launched with the committee teaching themselves the complicated mechanics of modern show business throughout the summer months.

The equipment was purchased from Mrs. Sichra. Men, women and children from the community volunteered with brooms, paint brushes, and screwdrivers. The Wieting trustees - Nelson King, Carl Stiger, Don Cronan, Leona Reinig and R. L. Morgan - also pitched in to help.

The theatre reopened its doors to a full house on Sept. 16, 1960. There were many who had attended the opening 48 years before, many who had memories of watching shows throughout the years, and a surprising number who had never been inside the theatre before. The sale of 109 family season tickets bode well for the theater’s financial future. A fundraiser known as “tag day” earned enough to purchase a drinking fountain for the theatre. Box office and concessions profits improved projection equipment, bought better seats and carpets, and remodeled the lobby.

In the spring of 1961 the Cornell College Players were the first to walk the stage of the reopened Wieting. They were thrilled and impressed, as actors had been almost 50 years before, with how accommodating and pleasant the stage and the area around it was. School, church and community plays have followed. Receipts from theatre rental have been used to purchase new stage fittings.

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