Did You Know??? Recently the home of The Barnstable Comedy Club, The Village Hall, celebrated its 100th anniversary! On June 2,1911, a meeting of the Village Improvement Society of Barnstable was called to vote on the purchase of a piece of land for the site of the new Village Hall. On July 1st, articles of incorporation for the new 'Village Hall of Barnstable' were signed at the office of the Honorary Herman A. Harding. On July 29th the deed for the land was purchased for $500. Roughly a year later construction had been completed. A largely attended dedication for the building was held on August 2, 1912. Among the speakers were Joseph A. Lincoln and Congressman Robert O. Harris. They spoke of the importance of the Village Hall for the community and for the growth of Barnstable Village. The original cost of the Village Hall was $3,400.
Ten years later a group that intended to start a theater met at The Old Barnstable Inn (since destroyed by fire; The Barnstable Tavern now stands in its place). They named their troupe 'The Barnstable Comedy Club,' and began performing plays at The Village Hall, among other locations around Cape Cod. At the time The Barnstable Women's Club owned The Village Hall and rented the space to the members of The Barnstable Comedy Club. In spite of lectures and concerts in the winter and plays in the summer, the Hall never made a profit. In 1925 funds were raised to reduce the mortgage to $500. By 1929, the Woman's Club paid off the mortgage and the debts. Use of the hall by the BCC was limited because of all the other community activities that took place there. The actors of the BCC often had to rehearse at The Old Barnstable Inn, and the homes of members. For this reason membership was limited.
In 1961, The Barnstable Comedy Club purchased The Village Hall from the Barnstable Women's Club. In accordance with the wishes of the Women's Club, the purchase was made with the understanding that the building would continue to be known as the Village Hall. The BCC finally had a home of its own. Since the group now had primary use of the hall, membership was now open to all. The Barnstable Comedy Club now shouldered the responsibility of maintaining the building and relied on the efforts of its members and patrons to do this. In May 1975, the club was granted the status of tax-exempt and non-profit corporation by the state of Massachusetts.
The BCC realized it was necessary to increase performances of each play to increase members and audiences to meet increased expenses. In the 1979-1980 Season eleven performances of each major production were given; two of the six workshops had to be given twice because of the increased size of the membership. By 1980, the mortgage for the Village Hall had been paid.
As you can imagine, improvements on a building as old as the Village Hall are on-going. In the past twenty years, a new heating system, roof, doors, handicapped ramp, and most recently, new shingling on the back and sides of the building. Aside from grant money, Playbill advertisement, and profits earned from ticket and concession sales, The Barnstable Comedy Club relies on the generous support of its patrons and members to keep the Village Hall alive and well. If you are new to the BCC, please consider a membership or donation to ensure that our theater and this building remain a landmark in Barnstable Village for years to come.
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