1951, Emily Faulhaber, a member of the Leesburg (FL) Junior Women's
Club, had an entertaining idea. Mrs. Faulhaber shared her dream with
two other of Leesburg's mid-century movers and shakers, Ruby Herlong
and Mildred Howard. The "little theater" [sic]
idea began making headlines when an article urging locals to attend
a founders' meeting appeared in Leesburg's Daily Commercial
that same year.
so it all began.
Leesburg Women's Club offered use of their building for organizational
meetings and rehearsals.
names were considered for this fledgling theatre. At the time, Leesburg
was considered the watermelon capital of Florida, and its citizens
celebrated an annual Watermelon Festival. With that in mind, Ruth
A. Lockett came up with the winning contest entry: "The Melon
first shows produced by the Melon Patch Players were performed at
the Lee Elementary School auditorium, the troupe later employing
the The Women's Club and Leesburg's Community Building for productions.
1955, the City of Leeburg donated the property at 311 North 13th
Street --- the site of Leesburg's first high school (1892) --- to
the Melon Patch Players, with bonds sold to finance the construction
of the theatre building. Much volunteer time and labor were needed
to build the facility, but later that same year, the
Melon Patch Players were able to celebrate their first production
in their new home, Caroline Francke's Father of the Bride,
directed by Frances Lovell.
the years, the Melon Patch Theatre's structures have expanded to
include an administrative space, a lobby and refreshments corner,
and four outbuildings for housing properties and costumes.
those who early on helped to establish the Melon Patch Theatre,
was actress, historian, former board member, and co-founder Sara
Barcus. In honor of her untiring support, the annual awards ceremony
for theatrical excellence, presented by the Melon Patch Players
at the end of each season, are officially recognized as the Sara