How’d a church become a theatre?
(also the history of The Marysburgh Mummers)
Mount Tabor Playhouse sits on a height of land overlooking the village of Milford. The building, a former United Church, consists of the theatre that seats 160 people and Bredin Hall, built in 1997. The latter contains a costume room, snack bar and washrooms and replaced the original Sunday Schoolroom.
The land was bought to build Mount Tabor Church in 1833 by trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church. A second church, Wesleyan Methodist, and eventually United, was erected between 1865 and 1867. Mount Tabor Church remained vibrant and served Milford and the community for 100 years.
This church was built mostly by the brains, blood and muscle of one man, Doctor Hautry Bredin. The most notable feature is the steeple which soars high above the village. In order to paint it, Dr. Bredin was slung up with pulleys, since no others wished to climb to such a lofty and dangerous place. He spent much of his own money on this ‘Temple to the Lord’ which was dedicated in 1867 by Rev. James Thompson. On June 25, 1967, Rev. J. A. Davidson preached at the centennial service which was also the last one. His topic was, “Has the Church had it?” South Marysburgh Township bought the church for one dollar in 1968.
After 18 years of sitting empty, several concerned citizens joined together to discuss possible ways to avoid having the beautiful landmark fall into disrepair. They discussed different possibilities, but soon discovered they all had a love of theatre. They decided to put on a play! In 1985, they produced “Look Who’s Laughing”. Since that time, the theatre has become the home for The Marysburgh Mummers and used by various other local performers.
Rev. Davidson said, during the last sermon, that “…greater things will be done…” Certainly, the building has taken a different tack from that of weekly worship. With this building’s conversion to a theatre, numerous renovations by volunteers have occurred while acknowledging its church origins. Shavings and a tool from the original construction were found during the building of the stage balcony.
Other groups and clubs including Brownies, Scouts, Cubs, Ventures, performing artists, Milford Fair, and even a wedding have all contributed to this historic site and in doing so, have turned the focus of worship in the older days into the newer focus of bringing people together for skill building and entertainment through performance opportunities.