A Bucks County couple saved the historic Bucks County Playhouse by paying cash to acquire the building that has been sitting empty, in the hands of a bank, since late 2010.
Though the sale contained a do not disclose agreement, Stonebridge Bank sales agent James Gorecki said Kevin and Sherri Daugherty, who acted under their nonprofit Bridge Street Foundation, paid less than the $2.1 million asking price. The initial price was $2.79 million.
The playhouse will be managed by the Bucks County Playhouse Conservancy, a nonprofit group with the primary mission of saving the playhouse, under the auspice of conservancy founder Peggy McRae and board member and Broadway producer Jed Bernstein.
The opening of the theater is expected in time for a summer 2012 season, according to a statement released by those involved in the deal.
About $2 million have been secured - between the foundation and conservancy - to make much needed renovations to the theater, including a new roof and fire alarm system, said project manager Mary Acciani.
Once the playhouse is up-and-running again, a capital campaign will likely be launched to address ashthetic improvements, Acciani said Monday evening.
The Bucks County Playhouse, situated in an 18th-century grist mill on New Hope's main street, was founded by a group of local artists and theater enthusiasts, including the playwright Moss Hart, in 1939. The group was eager to bring a touch of Broadway to the pastoral community -- 90 minutes from New York City -- where so many prominent New York literary and cultural figures summered and spent weekends.
The 450-seat theater, which held performances by Grace Kelly, Robert Redford and others, closed in 2010 after the bank holding its mortgage shut it down.
Its previous longtime owner Ralph Miller, 64, operated Bucks County Playhouse for more than 30 years until he fell into debt and his mortgage holder seized the converted 18th-century grist mill last year. The Daughertys also purchased the former Playhouse Inn property next to the playhouse but will work on that building as a long-term project, according to the statement.
Kevin Daugherty is founder of Speyside Equity, a Philadelphia-based private equity firm, while his wife Sherri is the owner of Angel Hearts, a women's boutique in Newtown. The pair founded Bridge Street Foundation "to support the local community through the acquisition of important historic landmarks and aiding in their transition to self-sustaining contributors to the community." They recently acquired First Baptist Church in Lambertville, just over the bridge to New Jersey, and renamed it Lambertville Hall.
Contact Staff Writer Claudia Vargas at 856-779-3917, firstname.lastname@example.org or @InqCVargas on Twitter.