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In July of 1965, a collection of Noblesville residents who enjoyed gathering to read plays decided it was time to take their passion to the next step. That summer, Mrs. Anne Braswell, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Campbell, Mrs. and Mrs. Robert Kraft, Mr. and Mrs. John Kyle, Mrs. Shirley Pritchard and their leader, the Rev. John Burbank formed the Hamilton County Theatre Guild. The following February, an audience of more than 500 gathered in the ‘Cafetorium’ of the Noblesville High School to witness their first production – "Ah, Wilderness!" This production was quickly followed by 4 others which formed the guild’s pilot season of 1965-1966.
The group didn’t anticipate such a large and appreciative audience, nor did they realize that a long list of successful productions would follow.
In December of 1968 the ‘Guild’ purchased the former home of the Emmanual United Methodist Church at the intersection of Greenfield Ave. and Union Chapel Road. The following year the building was improved with the addition of a septic system, stage lighting and added space on the west side which included restrooms. With these improvements The Belfry was ready for its first production, "The Odd Couple", directed by John Foland in February of 1969.
In the late 1970s, the east side of the building was expanded to include a lobby and a ‘green room’ for the actors and crew. Additional improvements were made in the mid 1990s to include a board room, dressing rooms, and workshop. The improvements were paid for in large part by a fundraiser with entertainment supplied by ‘The Sounds’, comprised of members Elaine Wagner, Betsy Bullis, Susie Townsend, Jack Hittle, Bill Dix, and others.
The continued success of the guild is directly related to its audiences, patrons, sponsors, and season ticket holders who have supported each production. Whether you are a long-time supporter, a brand-new season ticket holder, or are visiting the theater for the first time, there is plenty of laughter, tears, suspense, boos, and cheers for all as the guild continues to produce a wide variety of plays.
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