(Community Arts Theatre Society)

{The following history project was compiled by CATS member Leah Moulton}

The Beginnings

The history of CATS must really begin with a brief history of the San Juan Community Theatre. On June 9, 1984, George Thorson, Edward Weed, Mary Weed, Frank Klingberg, Frank Kelly, and John O. Linde agreed to incorporate and sign the Articles of Incorporation of the SJCT.

In June of 1985, at the invitation of film producer David Skinner, then a resident of San Juan Island and a man fully involved in the creation of the community theater, America’s First Lady of the Theatre took her bows at the tiny Royal movie theater. Helen Hayes performed that evening as part of a fundraising gala — a gala orchestrated in part by the Straights of Juan de Fuca, the local theatrical group. Its goal was to build and maintain a legitimate theater. It would be a stage not shared with the movie house or the Grange Hall or the firehouse, but a permanent arena in which to showcase extraordinary talents.

At the end of the evening, Miss Hayes returned to the stage and addressed the cheering audience…”With talents like these on this island, the least you can do is put a roof over their heads.” Philanthropist Paul Whittier and his wife, Lucy, long-time residents, had already purchased and donated the site for the new theater, so the planning and commitment rested on the shoulders of San Juan’s residents.

Three years and one month later the groundbreaking ceremony brought the Grand Ideé closer to reality. During the ensuing year, experts in their fields donated everything from labor and plumbing to lumber and landscaping. A marketing campaign was begun to attract patrons. A theatre auxiliary was founded, and the show went on.

The San Juan Community Theatre and Arts Center opened its doors as scheduled, playing to a full and exuberant house on June 30, 1989.

~Quoted from “Talents Like These” by Henry Curtis