The Paper Mill Playhouse
Constructed at the site of the 18th century Thistle Paper Mill, this theater has supported the arts for many decades. The mill was no longer in operation when theater founder Antoinette Scudder bought the property in 1934. She ran the theater with her business partner Frank Carrington, who took the lead in operations after Scudder's death in 1958. The playhouse continues to offer multiple shows each season for the local community and is widely recognized for its accessibility features.
Backstory and Context
Samuel Campbell opened the Thistle Paper Mill in Millburn, New Jersey in 1795 to help support his publishing business. In the 1860s, the mill was destroyed by fire but was rebuilt and continued to function for more than 30 years after. The mill was abandoned by the time Antoinette Scudder bought the lot in 1934.
Scudder founded the Paper Mill Playhouse with her business partner Frank Carrington. The two met in the 1920s and were heavily involved with the local arts community. Their first project was establishing the Newark Ark Theater in the late 1920s before moving on to create the Paper Mill Playhouse.
Throughout the playhouse’s existence, it has provided a variety of services. It began with activities such as ballet, classical music, art exhibits, and lectures. As the playhouse continued it mainly focused on musicals and plays. Antoinette Scudder died in 1958, due to this Frank Carrington employed the help of Angelo Del Rossi. Once Carrington passed Rossi led the Paper Mill Playhouse, in 1975. Five years later the playhouse experienced a massive fire yet was funded to its prior state from the local community, thriving more than ever afterward.A notable feature of the playhouse is its accessibility. The program “theatre for everyone” began in 2011. This program allows shows and entertainment for autistic children and those of other needs. The playhouse also provides other means of accessibility such as barrier-free access, large-print, and braille programs, and sign interpreted performances. For blind audiences, a tour known as a “sensory seminar” is provided which allows them to feel costumes and set material to better understand a performance.
2. History. Paper Mill Playhouse. Accessed April 05, 2019. https://papermill.org/about-us/history/.
3. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form. National Park Service. Accessed April 05, 2019. https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/13001057.pdf.
4. Our Impact. Paper Mill Playhouse. Accessed April 05, 2019. https://papermill.org/about-us/our-impact/.
5.Photo of Playhouse. Luner on Theatre. Accessed May 06, 2019. https://lunerontheatre.com/2013/03/12/paper-mill-playhouse-announces-2013-2014-season/.
6. Photo of Scudder and Carrington. Paper Mill Playhouse. Accessed April 05, 2019. https://papermill.org/about-us/history/.
7. The History of the "Mill" in Milburn. Tap Into Milburn. Accessed April 05, 2019. https://www.tapinto.net/towns/millburn-slash-short-hills/articles/the-history-of-the-mill-in-millburn.