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My entire life was changed one October evening in 1975. It was the first time that I sat in the Theatre of the Spring Lake Community House.

In those days the library was only part of the building that was open to the public. My husband was running for Mayor that fall. He didn’t win. The Homeowner’s Association was given permission to use the Theatre for a Candidate’s Forum. I looked around at the worn drapery and carpet and said to myself: “It just needs a little money and love.” Never in a million years could I have imagined that I would have been a part of this magical place for the rest of my life.


The Spring Lake Recreation Committee sponsored many events to commemorate the Country’s Bicentennial Year in 1976. That was the first year of the Spring Lake Five Mile Run, Big Sea Day was brought back and they sponsored a “Town Play”, Bye Bye Birdie. It was a big hit and great fun. Every adult and teenager with the slightest bit of talent or courage was recruited to be in the play~~I was one of them. It was so successful that the Mayor and Council sponsored another play the following summer. It occurred to me that perhaps the proceeds of the plays could help refurbish the Theatre.

The following summer the Spring Lake Theatre Company began and I became a Producer. I’ve always said that everything that has happened since was a happy accident. However, if it wasn’t for the fact that someone believed in and trusted a young mother of three with absolutely no background in Theatre or management, none of this would have happened.


Tom Crowley and Frank Heine were the heads of the Board of Trustees at that time. They encouraged me and never said no to any of the ideas I had to bring the Community House back to the place that Mr. Brown intended in 1923 when he built this beautiful building.  Serendipitously, the Community House received an endowment in 1985 from the estate of one of the original Board members, Adelaide Heilner. We were able to make many necessary improvements to the building. We still rely on the generosity of donors to continue to care for a place that will always need “a little money and love.” 


“There’s Always Something Wonderful Happening Here” is the slogan of the Community House. It’s very true. Our Children’s Theatre and Dance Programs have been thriving for thirty-seven years. Most of our teachers were once students. Our Broadway quality Theatre productions are amazing thanks to the extraordinary talents of the young people who have grown up at the Community House and returned as performers, designers, directors, and choreographers to continually outdo themselves with every production. The success of these programs helps to keep the building alive. I believe that Mr. Brown would be very proud of his Community House.  


For me, the best part of my happy accident has been the joy of being a small part of the lives of everyone who have spent some of their time growing up, teaching, learning, performing and making the Community House a living, happy, wholesome, safe and beautiful place to be. I’m a very lucky human.  

Executive Director

Patricia Barry

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