From our origins as a children’s theater to the dynamic, multi-faceted organization you see today, Theater in the Open continually evolves to meet the community’s needs. Under its current leadership, Theater in the Open is delivering on all aspects of its mission — as a professional theater company, as a center for youth arts education and as a community partner with the vision to create art that is accessible to all.

In 2017, Theater in the Open was named the curator for the Gatekeeper's House by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, which officially grants Theater in the Open the ability to restore this historic building that has been our headquarters since 1987. As Historic Curators of the property, Theater in the Open is committed to making lasting, historically conscious improvements to the Gatekeeper's House, to preserve it for generations to come. 

The Gatekeeper's House, originally known as the Forester's House, was constructed in 1903 at the southwest corner of the Maudsleigh Estate and served as a welcoming location and landmark to its visitors. The house was designed by William Gibbons Rantoul of the Boston firm, Jacques & Rantoul and is a classic example of American Shingle style. Rantoul’s distinctive use of Shingle style can be seen throughout the remaining estate buildings.


The future of the Gatehouse

fall 2018-Spring 2019: A new roof & exterior CEDAR SHINGLES on the garage

A key project as part of the Gatekeeper's House refurbishment was replacing the roof and exterior shingles on the garage. One of the theater’s main storage spaces, years of weather made the garage fall into disrepair. Volunteers from AmeriCorp Massachusetts worked alongside Teddy and our facilities manager, Red Hammer Builders, to help reside the garage and re-shingle the roof. This project began in the fall of 2018, was completed in the spring of 2019, and was funded in part by a grant from the Essex National Heritage Commission ( We are grateful for their support and for the support of individuals who helped us to purchase new cedar shingles.

Special Thanks to Essex Heritage for their support.

Artistic Director Teddy F. Speck and a volunteer with the finished garage project.

Artistic Director Teddy F. Speck and a volunteer with the finished garage project.



Our first goal as Historic Curators of the Gatekeeper's House was tearing down the dilapidated porch and replacing it with a new porch, designed by Vesta Architecture and constructed by BLB Custom Builders. We have had plans in place for this project for several years, and as Curators, now had the authority to make this project happen. Over a period of six weeks at the beginning of summer, 2018 the porch was dismantled and replaced with a new and historically accurate entrance to the house. Below are images of the progress, which was completed in September, 2018.