ELMHURST – After more than two decades in Elmhurst, the Theater Historical Society has decided to move its headquarters to Pittsburgh.
In a newsletter published on the organization’s website, the board of directors said the move is motivated mostly by the space limitations of their location above the York Theater, 150 N. York St., in downtown Elmhurst.
“Our York Theater location has worked well for nearly 25 years,” the newsletter read. “But time has moved along. Our youth has passed.”
The letter praised Willis and Shirley Johnson, landlords of the society’s headquarters and owners of York Theatre, but it also stated the Theatre Historical Society’s space “needs upgrading.”
According to the newsletter, the Elmhurst location is too small to house the organization’s archives and artifacts, forcing the group to find creative solutions that inconvenience staff and members. As the collection grows, the problem will be magnified, the newsletter stated, making it difficult to properly preserve the collection.
Besides space concerns, the Theatre Historical Society newsletter also said Elmhurst does not satisfy the society’s plan for the future.
“We must find a place where we can grow, where we will be visible, and where we will be able to put a good face forward as we carry out our mission of celebrating America’s theaters and educating the public about their history,” the newsletter stated.
According to information about the move provided on the society’s website, Pittsburgh was chosen as the new home of the Theater Historical Society because the organization will be “a much larger fish in a smaller pond.”
In accordance with the move to Pittsburgh, the Theater Historical Society has negotiated a lease agreement with the Senator John Heinz History Center, the largest history museum in Pennsylvania and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, according to the society’s information.
The society will be leasing archival storage space and workspace for its archives director, but it will retain full ownership of the location.
With the move to Pennsylvania, the Theater Historical Society aims to grow from a club to an organization that operates a national theater museum.