As we prepare to celebrate our 65th Summer Season, a very significant change has happened at the Wagon Wheel.
This past December, the Wagon Wheel board of directors purchased the Wagon Wheel Theatre building, property, and adjacent property and building of 2517 banquet hall.
Wagon Wheel Theatre was founded about 65 years ago by a longtime Warsaw resident, entrepreneur, musician, and showman Herbert Petrie. Its unique theater-in-the-round venue earned rave reviews year after year for the quality of its productions. The theatre changed hands a few times after Petrie’s passing, remaining a for-profit business until 2010.
In 2010 community members led by the late John Hand formed the 501(c)3 non-profit board, named Wagon Wheel Theatre, Inc. Since becoming a non-profit in 2010, the Wagon Wheel Theatre board had been leasing the theatre building and grounds. A recent Dekko Foundation grant of $300,000 for expanded children’s programming was one of the catalysts to enable the purchase of the theatre building and property at the end of last year.
“We are delighted to take this next step in the theater’s journey,” said Wagon Wheel Board President Deb Bishop, and she noted that the acquisition of the 2517 facility will enable much broader programming for children, including drama and theater workshops for children and adults of all ages.
As the Wagon Wheel enters its 65th season, the spirit of the tent that originated on the grounds reminds us how far we have come and how much more is possible in the future. It reminds us that your stories, memories, and support are what fuel that future and the next steps of progress for the once canvas tent and gravel floor.
Now that the board has ownership of the theatre building, careful discussion is being made about a modest capital funds drive to expand and upgrade the lobby and restroom area, and to assist in modernizing and updating the facility as a whole. With community support, the future of the Wagon Wheel can be secured for another 65 years and be better than ever before because of it!