A Brief History of Pumphouse Players

All About The Pumphouse Players
(Press release by founded Don Kordecki circa 1978) 

On an evening in 1975, the idea to form the Pumphouse Players was born. Seated around the Kordecki’s living room were Mimi Collins, Roger Hilton, Ollene and Don. Bemoaning the lack of an organized theatre group, the quartet decided to form one as soon as possible to produce the hilarious comedy “Mary, Mary!” The rest of the evening was spent pondering all sorts of names for the new group, with the final decision being to name the group Pumphouse Players.

Three months later, in mid-July, “Mary, Mary” was presented for three nights in the tiny store-front offices of the abandoned First National Bank Loan Office on Main Street. Floor to ceiling windows were covered with paper, a part-cardboard, part-scrapwood set was constructed against a wall-length counter and the wings on either side consisted of a janitor’s store room and the entranceway to the restrooms.

Forty chairs and a platform were borrowed from the civic center and the Episcopal Church, the publicity campaign was mounted, and the play was a huge success in the midst of the hot summer! Fortunately, we sold many Cokes, and netted a total profit of nine dollars after expenses.

The former owners of the Ramada Inn Restaurant asked us for a dinner theatre event and we re-mounted “Mary, Mary” with a slight change in cast in September and October, 1975.

In late November and early December, the beautiful Episcopal Church was utilized for a production of “The Lion in Winter,” with costumes made or borrowed from Georgia State University. This was the last play featuring Roger Hilton and Mimi Collins, who moved to Florida.

Following a hiatus of several months, the players re-grouped in the summer of 1976 to present a rollicking version of “See How They Run.” The American Legion Hall was offered during August and later, storage of our props and sets was provided by the Legion.

In late February and early March, 1977 during the coldest winter on record, we rehearsed three one-act plays in the unheated former Elks Club, now known as Munsey’s Restaurant. With the aid of portable gas heaters, we warmed up the room to present “The Sand Box,” the second act, scene one of the “The Odd Couple,” and “Look Who’s Playing God.”

By now, the players were tiring of lugging sets and props around and designing stages where there were no stages intended. Heating and air conditioning were also concerns of ours, and when the Bartow County Recreation Department offered to build a portable stage for us and permit us full use of the Bartow Carver Camp Recreation Hall, we jumped at the chance! In June 1977 we produced our first mystery, “The Mousetrap” and celebrated afterwards in a storm-darkened theatre, cut off from the rest of civilization by three downed trees across the road.

Fortune did an about face following those dark days, and The Pumphouse contracted to use the recently-vacated Grand Theatre in downtown Cartersville, opening it as a legitimate house with the ever-popular “Arsenic and Old Lace” in September of 1977.

With a “home” theatre becoming firmly established we mounted “Harvey” in February 1978 and insured our positive growth with our most popular success to date, “Winnie the Pooh,” playing to some 1500 theatre-goers in May 1978.

What’s ahead for the Pumphouse Players? We have pledged ourselves to provide a legitimate theatre outlet for Bartow County, complete with acting and technical classes and periodic performances of great comedies, dramas, and other artistic works for the enjoyment and education of everyone in North Georgia. There is much work ahead to merely bring that goal into sight, but with your help and participation, we will continue to move forward with renewed vigor during the 1978-79 season!


Pumphouse Players and The Grand Theatre
(Excerpted from The Grand Theatre’s About Us)

“The Grand Theatre’s programming was kept alive between 1978 and 1983 by a local theatre group called The Pumphouse Players. Cartersville native William Brown served as manager for The Grand, bringing in shows including rock and roll bands, beauty pageants, and plays. The Pumphouse Players performed plays including “Arsenic and Old Lace”, “The King and I,” and “Oklahoma”. They mounted a “Save the Grand” campaign to make the community aware that the theatre was a local historic treasure, well worth saving.

The campaign was successful as the Grand Theatre was purchased by a local resident and slated for a complete renovation.”


History of the Legion Theatre
(provided by the Bartow History Museum, Cartersville, Georgia.)

The Legion Theatre opened in August 1940, with Mr. A.L. Cowart serving as manager. The 550 seat theatre, including over 200 in the balcony, featured modern equipment and facilities, with RCA picture projection and sound equipment. Admission prices ranged from 10 to 20 cents.

The facade was white, trimmed in a rich reddish brown, and adorned by a colorful metal marquee. The name, illuminated in neon lighting, was on a two-sided column to the left of the facade’s center. A large box office was constructed to be open on two sides. The first two movies shown were *It’s A Date*, starring Deanna Durbin, and the classic *Wuthering Heights*, which won an Academy Award for its star, Laurence Olivier.

Less than two years after opening, a fire, on February 12, 1942, gutted the building but left the walls standing. Reconstruction began immediately, and the theatre reopned a few months later. The Legion continued operation as a movie house until around 1952.

The building then housed a furniture store from the mid-1950s through the early 1970s, and other businesses after that. It underwent major renovations in 1992, bringing it back to its original appearance. Further renovations occurred in 2004 with upgrades to the seating, carpets, lobby, and restrooms.

In 1993, the theatre became the home of The Pumphouse Players, a live theatre group formed in 1975. Today, the PHP continue to entertain audiences with a number of performances throughout the year.