White Barn Theater
Westport Avenue, Westport, Fairfield County, Connecticut
18.2 acres


1900  --  Lucille Wadler (later Lucille Lortel) born in New York City.

She studied acting and theatre at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and with Arnold Korff in Europe.

1925  --  she made her Broadway debut in the Theatre Guild's production of Caesar and Cleopatra with Helen Hayes.

1926 --  she appeared in Michael Kallesser's One Man's Woman at the 48th Street Theatre.

1931  --  Ms. Lortel married industrialist Louis Schweitzer.

1947  --Lucille Lortel created an enclave for artists to present new works, U.S. premieres and revivals at her renovated two-story, 148-seat barn next to her summer home in Westport, Connecticut.  The place became known as the White Barn Theater.

1955  --  eight years after Lucille started producing at the White Barn, her husband was so tired of never seeing his wife in New York City that he presented his wife with the Theatre De Lys on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village.

1981  --  the Theatre de Lys was renamed the Lucille Lortel Theatre

1992  --  a small storage area off of the Theatre became the White Barn Theatre Museum.

1997  --   Lortel wrote her will, filed in New York State. 

1999  --  Ms. Lortel granted the Lucille Lortel Theatre to the Lucille Lortel Theatre Foundation to continue its production of plays on off-Broadway.

1999  --  Lortel died at the age of 98. 

1999-2002 --  summer weekend productions continued at the White Barn Theater.

2002  --  the directors of the foundation closed the White Barn Theater. 

The New York-based Lucille Lortel Foundation decided to sell the 18.2 acres on which the White Barn Theater to developers. The land includes the historic White Barn Theater, an adjacent gallery and the late producer-philanthropist's summer house on the Norwalk-Westport line.

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal filed intervened to halt the sale to the developers.  They argued that Lortel wanted the work of the theater to continue.  The case is in the courts.


Frank Rizzo.  November 21, 2004.  Authorities aim to prevent Barn razing; Attorneys file memoranda to County Surrogate Court.  http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117913890?categoryid=15&cs=1

Lucille Lortel Foundation.  http://www.lortel.org/LLF_biography/index.cfm