Maryland theatre playbills collection
Scope and Contents
The Maryland theatre playbills collection, 1924-2017, contains theater programs and magazines from the following Baltimore area theaters: The Auditorium Theatre, Ford's Theatre, The Maryland Theatre, The Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, Center Stage, Lyric Theatre/Lyric Opera House, Vagabond Players, The Meyerhoff, and Olney Theatre. There are additional playbills from the following smaller theaters and theatre companies: Arena Players, Children's Theatre Association, Theatre Project, Essex Community College Theatre, Fells Point Corner Theatre, F. Scott Black's Dinner Theatre, St. Joseph's Monastery Auditorium, Academy of Music, Lyceum Theatre, Stuart Walker's Baltimore Reperatory Company, Stanton Theatre, and Painter's Mill Music Fair. The playbills contain the name of the play, its cast members, and local advertisements from the era. Most playbills from the 1920s through the 1960s contain the name of the play, the name of the collector's guest(s) that day, the cost of the seat, and a rating from one to ten.
- Creation: 1924-2017
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is located at the Loyola Notre Dame Library. Contact Archives and Special Collections for more information. The collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
The Maryland theatre playbills collection is the physical property of Archives and Special Collections, Loyola Notre Dame Library. Copyright, except in cases where material has been passed into the public domain, belongs to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns.
Biographical / Historical
The Auditorium Theatre began as The Natatorium, an indoor swimming pool and spa, in 1870. In 1890, it was converted into a vaudeville theatre called Howard Auditorium Music Hall by former confederate soldier, James L. Kernan. Kernan changed the name to The Auditorium Theatre in 1903. In 1912, Kernan passed away transferring ownership to Federick C. Schanberger and Leonard B. McLaughlin. The Auditorium's name was changed to The Mayfair following a renovation in 1941 by C.W. Hicks. Historical information adapted from http://baltimorearchitecture.org/2015/03/27/the-mayfair/.
Ford's Theatre, also known as Ford's Opera House, opened in Baltimore, Maryland in 1871. The theater was founded by Baltimore native, John T. Ford. Ford also owned the infamous Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865. The Baltimore Ford's Theatre operated with segregated seating through Februrary 1952 when years of protests led to declining ticket sales and criticism from stage actors as well as the Governor of Maryland, Theodore R. McKeldin. Despite its rich history, Ford's Theatre closed in 1964 and the building was torn down to build a parking garage. Historical information adapted from https://explore.baltimoreheritage.org/items/show/621.
The Maryland Theatre opened in 1903 as a vaudeville theatre in Baltimore. It was operated by James L. Kernan, owner of The Auditorium Theatre, and located next to his Hotel Kernan property. The theater included a bar and restaurant in the basement where Baltimore's first jazz band played led by John Ridgely. The Maryland Theatre closed in late 1950 and the building was demolished in 1951 to build a parking lot for The Congress Hotel, formerly Hotel Kernan, in its final days. Historical information adapted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maryland_Theater_(Baltimore).
The Morris A. Mechanic Theatre opened in 1967 as the namesake of Baltimore theatre mogul, Morris Mechanic. Mechanic planned the theatre as a replacement for Ford's Theatre which he purchased in 1929 and demolished in 1964. It was also a planned replacment for The Stanton Theatre he owned and demolished in 1965. Mechanic passed away in 1966 during construction of the theatre, but his wife, Mayor Theodore McKeldin, and Eugene Feinblatt, chairman of the Baltimore Urban Renewal and Housing Agency, opened the theatre in January 1967. After a short management stint by Jujamycn Theaters (later SFX and Clear Channel Entertainment) in the early 2000s, the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre closed in 2004. The theatre was demolished in September 2014. Historical information adapted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morris_A._Mechanic_Theatre.
Center Stage is the state theater of Maryland and Baltimore's largest theater. It began as a gymnasium converted into a 240-seat arena theatre in 1963. The original North Avenue location burned down in 1974 after two men removed from the bar next door mistakenly set fire to the building. Center Stage operated out of a local college (a former part of Loyola High School and College) until it moved into an abandoned Jesuit college on North Calvert Street. Historical information adapted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_Stage_(theater).
The Lyric Theatre, also known as The Lyric Opera House, opened as The Music Hall in 1894. It housed the Baltimore Opera Company from 1950 to 2009 and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from 1916 to 1982. Lyric Opera Baltimore operated out of the theater through 2017. The theatre is currently known as Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric following a donation from Patricia and Arthur Modell in 2010. Historical information adapated from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modell_Performing_Arts_Center.
Vagabond Players was established in 1916 at 3 West Centre Street in Baltimore, Maryland during the "Little Theatre Movement." It has called many addresses home over the last one-hundred years due to leasing issues and increased audience size. Vagabond Players currently owns its 806 South Broadway location where it entertains an audience of 99 at a time. Historical information adapated from https://vagabondplayers.org/history/.
The Meyerhoff, also known as Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, opened in September 1982 in the Mount Vernon section of Baltimore. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra took ownership of the music hall after 66 years at the Lyric Opera House. The Meyerhoff is named after Joseph Meyerhoff, an arts patron and former president of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra for eighteen years. Historical information adapted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Meyerhoff_Symphony_Hall.
Olney Theatre was founded as a summer theater in Olney, Maryland by Stephen E. Cochran in 1938. C.Y. Stephens, the owner of High's Dairy Stores, purchased and remodeled Olney Theatre in 1940. Its touring company, National Players, was founded by Father Gilbert V. Hartke in 1949 to bring community theatre and educational programs to children and adults across the world. Father Hartke became manager of the Olney Theatre property in 1952 under the umbrella of his National Players touring company. The theatre is currently known as Olney Theatre Center. Historical information adapted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olney_Theatre_Center.
Arena Players is the oldest African-American performance group and community theatre in Baltimore. It was established in September 1953 by Samuel H. Wilson, Irvin Turner. Jimmie Bell, Bernard Byrd, Doris Dilver, Arthur Thurgood, Joe Wilson, and Julius Wilson on the Coppin State University campus. It is currently located at 801 McCulloh Street in Baltimore. Historical information adapted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Arena_Players.
Children's Theatre Association of Baltimore was established by Isabel Burger in 1943 to use theatre to bring educational programming to children and prepare them for adulthood. Historical information adpated from https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1996-02-15-1996046034-story.html
The Theatre Project was founded by Philip Arnoult in 1971 as part of Antioch University to offer free theatre to Baltimore audiences. The affiliation with Antioch University ended in the early 1980s requiring Theatre Project to begin charging for performances. Theatre Project receives grants to fund productions and maintain its West Preston Street location in Baltimore. Historical information adapted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltimore_Theatre_Project.
Fells Point Corner Theatre was founded in 1987 by the merger of Fells Point Theatre and Corner Theatre in the historic Fells Point neighborhood in Baltimore. It is currently located at 251 South Ann Street. Historical information adapted from http://www.fpct.org/information/about-fpct/.
Harborlights was a restored 1912 movie palace used by F. Scott Black, a Community College of Baltimore County Essex theatre professor and stage actor, to host Broadway musical performances. Historical information adapted from F. Scott Black's Harborlights Dinner Theatre Evita playbill, 1991.
F. Scott Black's Towson Dinner Theatre was founded by F. Scott Black in 1981 to host Broadway musical performances. A decline in ticket sales caused the dinner theatre to close its doors in June 2001. Historical information adapted from https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-2001-04-14-0104140307-story.html.
St. Joseph's Monastery Parish was established as part of the Archdiosese of Baltimore in 1895. It began constructing its current Baltimore location in November 1931 and dedicated the building in October 1932. The auditorium hosts religious services and performances. Historical information adapated from http://sjmp.org/ourparish.html.
The Academy of Music opened in 1875 in Baltimore following the American Civil War. It was located at 516 North Howard Street until its demolition in 1927 to build the Stanley Theatre. Historical information adapted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_of_Music_(Baltimore).
The Lyceum Theatre was founded by stage actor and manager, John W. Albaugh, in 1890 in Baltimore. The theatre seated up to 1,300 people and featured many popular stage productions. A fire destroyed the theatre on April 25, 1925. Historical information adapted from https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1994-02-22-1994053155-story.html.
Stuart Walker's Baltimore Repertory Company was founded as part of the Portmanteau Theatre, an independent repertory company, in 1915 by filmmaker Stuart Walker. It produced theatre seasons in Baltimore and other major cities throughout the 1920s. Mr. Walker passed away March 13, 1941 in Beverly Hills, California. Historical information adapted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuart_Walker_(filmmaker).
The Stanton Theatre opened in September 1927 as The Stanley Theatre. It was built on the old Academy of Music site and stood next to The Auditorium Theatre. Morris A. Mechanic purchased the theatre in 1958 and changed the name to The Stanton Theatre. The theatre was demolished in 1965 as Mechanic prepared to build the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre. Historical information adapted from http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/5591.
Painters Mill Music Fair began as a summer tent theater in Owings Mills, Maryland in June 1960 featuring a performance of "South Pacific." In 1967, the Painters Mill Star Theatre was established to host year-round Broadway shows and musical acts. An act of arson destroyed Painters Mill Star Theatre in March 1991. Historical information adapted from http://jerrygarciasbrokendownpalaces.blogspot.com/2012/08/painters-mill-star-theatre-owings-mill.html.
Community Theatre at Community College of Baltimore County, formerly Essex Community College Theatre, hosts four community theatres across its three campuses. The community theatres include Children's Playhouse of Maryland, Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre, Dundalk Community Theatre, and Senior Star Showcase. Children's Playhouse of Maryland and Cockpit in Court Summer Theatre are held at the Essex campus. Historical information adapted from http://www.ccbcmd.edu/Campus-Life-and-Activities/Arts-and-Culture/Performing-Arts/Theatre-Productions/Community-Theatre.aspx.
The John Astin Theatre, formerly known as Theatre Hopkins, is located inside Johns Hopkins University's historic Merrick Barn. The theatre hosts student productions as well as student acting and writing workshops. The theatre was named for John Astin, a 1952 alumni and star on The Addams Family television show, in 2011. Historical information adapted from https://krieger.jhu.edu/theatre-arts/the-john-astin-theatre/.
1.63 Cubic Feet (1 records center box and 1 full-size letter document box)
Language of Materials
The Maryland theatre playbills collection, 1924-2017, contains theater programs and magazines from the following Baltimore area theaters: The Auditorium Theatre, Ford's Theatre, The Maryland Theatre, The Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, Center Stage, Lyric Theatre/Lyric Opera House, Vagabond Players, The Meyerhoff, and Olney Theatre. There are additional playbills from the following smaller theaters and theatre companies: Arena Players, Children's Theatre Association, Theatre Project, Essex Community College Theatre, Theatre Hopkins, Fells Point Corner Theatre, F. Scott Black's Dinner Theatre, St. Joseph's Monastery Auditorium, Academy of Music, Lyceum Theatre, Stuart Walker's Baltimore Reperatory Company, Stanton Theatre, and Painter's Mill Music Fair.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
There is no known acquisition information for this collection.
This collection was processed in 2019 by Shavonne Munnlyn.
- Auditorium Theatre (1891-1940) (Organization)
- Ford's Theatre (1871-1964) (Organization)
- Maryland Theatre (1903-1950) (Organization)
- Morris A. Mechanic Theatre (1967-2004) (Organization)
- Center Stage (Organization)
- Lyric Theatre (Organization)
- Vagabond Players (Organization)
- Lyric Opera House (Organization)
- Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (Organization)
- Olney Theatre (Organization)
- Guide to the Maryland theatre playbills collection
- Shavonne Munnlyn
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description