GCP History
     Gainesville's Little Theater Association was organized on June 17, 1927. With the assistance of Mrs. F. W. Buchholz (Emmaline), a group of dreamers met and began working to form a Little Theater group in Gainesville. "The Little Theatre Association of the United States was growing fast. These Little Theaters have been started in all the larger cities in the country for the purpose of teaching children the art of acting and also the technical parts of the production of a play." --- Gainesville Daily Sun on July 10, 1927.
     In the summer of 1927 they elected Mrs. Wilburn Lassiter,  president of the local organization, Mrs. O. B. Ogletree, first vice-president, Mrs. George Cairns, second vice-president, Mrs. Walter Hawkins, secretary, Mrs. G. H. Blackmon, treasurer, Mrs. J. E. Murray, corresponding secretary, Mrs. F. W. Buchholz, chairman of the board of directors and Prof. Paul Buchanan, Director.
      The first production was The Pied Piper of Hamlin. Classes were opened in the fall for children of all ages for a fee of $2.50. The group met and the Junior League of the Little Theater attended classes and several plays were presented to the public. Skidding on May 13, 1932 was the first performance by the adult members of the GLT. On November 4, 1932 was the second adult production Pigs. General Admission was 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children. The first musical feature to be presented by the Gainesville Little Theatre was "Trial by Jury" on March 16, 1936 directed by Claude L. Murphree. Both the Junior League and the adult members produced several plays yearly until 1943 when the theater became inactive due to the war.
    In 1948 Thelma Boltin reactivated the theater again and brought to the stage several productions a year. The interest in the Little Theatre waned from 1951 until 1955 when University Professor Claude Murphree reactivated the group. From 1955 to 1960 GLT had three productions yearly.
    Until 1961 the gypsy GLT troupe performed wherever there was available space, with performances presented at P.K.Yonge, Gainesville High School, University Auditorium and later the City Recreation Center.
    In 1961, S. T. Dell and his sister Mrs. Hal Murdock of Miami, owned the Gainesville Women's Club. His secretary Eloise Zeller convinced him into donating the building to the theater group as long as they moved it off his property. They bought the land on 16th Avenue for $1000.00 and moved the building onto the property. Tom Godey describes the move of the building as they sat on the truck and moved telephone and electric wires out of their way with brooms. By 3:00 PM. that day the Gainesville Little Theater had a home. There was no stage and no seats but it became a home and it was dedicated to Eloise Zeller. They got seats from the old Florida Theatre Movie House and they built a raised stage.
    In 1983 the 50th Anniversary was celebrated and the named was changed to Gainesville Community Playhouse. Since then over 250 productions have been enjoyed by the Gainesville community. GCP is currently producing six to seven plays a year.
    With the building deteriorating, a plan to construct a new theater was initiated by the GCP Board of Directors in 1999. The gallant efforts of Bob Garrigues and Jerry Brewington began a strong campaign for the building fund raising. With the gracious donations from Mr. and Mrs. E. T. York, many wonderful patrons and friends, GCP raised over $600,000.  A grant was submitted to the State Legislature for matching funds but the State budget cut out monies needed for these funds. GCP is again trying to raise the rest of the needed money so that a new building can be built for the 2005 season.