In 1876, local merchant William H. Goodspeed built the venue to house full-scale productions in East Haddam, CT. But following his death, the venue fell into disuse; for a time, the building stored the state's snow plows.
A group of Connecticut citizens, including Richard Rodgers and Jean Dalrymple, lobbied to save the historic venue and raised money to fund its restoration.
June 18, 1963, marked the venue's rededication to the arts with a staging of the 1918 Broadway musical Oh, Lady, Lady! ("a stylish and delightful production," per the New York Times). Top tickets were $5.50.
The Times event coverage noted a message of support from President John F. Kennedy: "The brilliant restoration of this historic building...warrants congratulations to all who contributed."
In the intervening years, Goodspeed has remained committed to fostering new work in the musical theatre, and 19 of its productions have gone on to Broadway.
Revisit highlights of Goodspeed's most noteworthy contributions to the Broadway theatre here:
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