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Northampton Township, Then and Now

The 1819 Spring Garden Mill is home to the Langhorne Players, who are known for performing “plays worth talking about.”

The almost 200-year old Spring Garden Mill, part of Tyler State Park, remains a landmark in the community, well-known to passersby who travel Newtown-Richboro Road on their way to and from the park. Formerly, a fully functioning grist mill, the Spring Garden Mill has been home to the Langhorne Players since 1976. 

The Spring Garden Mill and the miller’s house were constructed in 1819, according to the website’s account of the mill’s history, “when five acres were sold to a mason who saw the opportunity to power his mill from the waters of Neshaminy Creek.”

In 1867, the mill burned in a fire, leaving an empty shell, which remained until 1878, when a new mill interior was built inside the old walls, the website states. The front porch was added and a layer of stucco was applied. By the 1920s, George Tyler had acquired the mill and used it as a gas station in addition to a grain mill.

“Although the building has been updated and converted into a theatre, the original architecture has not been altered,” said Rob Norman, treasurer of the Langhorne Players. “We’re a non-profit community theatre group, who has been performing top quality shows for over 60 years.”

The Langhorne Players take pride in performing out-of-the-ordinary “plays worth talking about,” Norman stressed, which is the group’s mission.

Founded in 1947 in Langhorne by the late Ed Macon, the Langhorne Players Theatre Company moved around Bucks County several times before it settled into its notable Spring Garden Mill location, which appropriately matched the company’s history and high-quality extraordinary performance choices. What better place for this unique theatre group than a 200-year-old mill, rich in history and part of the beautiful Tyler estate? The Langhorne Players rent the space from the state for a nominal fee, but are responsible for all renovations and property upkeep.

“The upkeep is expensive on an old building like this,” Norman pointed out. “We just replaced the roof and renovated the interior. Our theatre is very intimate, though. There’s a total of 75 seats, five rows of 15, so there are no bad seats in the house. It makes for a really distinctive theatre experience.”

Norman said the Langhorne Players’ performances are not your typical community theatre variety. They purposely choose plays that are impressionable and thought-provoking. For example, End Days, which runs July 15 to 30, is considered a “dramaedy,” Norman continued. “It’s a great mix of drama and comedy. That’s the kind of presentations we like to do.”

Opening season beings on April 15, with Mauritius, which “looks at the seedy underbelly of stamp collecting.” Tickets are priced at $12 and $14 and can be reserved by calling ahead. Auditions for the plays are open to the public and the company is always looking for new talent. Volunteers are also welcome.

“We do it all,” Norman said proudly. “We act, direct, manage the stage, sound and lighting, serve refreshments and tend the box office.” Through the work of volunteers, this exceptional theatre company offers a rare cultural arts experience within your own neighborhood—an experience definitely worth talking about!

Spring Garden Mill and the home of the Langhorne Players is located at 1118 Newtown-Richboro Road, Newtown, PA. For more information, call (215) 860-0818 or check out www.langhorneplayers.org for a listing of this season’s performances.

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