-11.5 C
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

Shantz family doesn’t have to look far to find new owner for historic schoolhouse building

Long-time tenant Drayton Entertainment gifted building from Mersynergy Charitable foundation


EDSS student wins U.S. baseball scholarship

It’s January and nowhere near Florida, but St. Jacobs’ Blake Jacklin is in a baseball frame of mind....

News Briefs

Woolwich nixes traffic islands Displeased with the troublesome pedestrian islands installed during the Region of Waterloo’s reconstruction of Church Street...

Woolwich proposes 5% tax hike for 2020

Budget talks underway this week, Woolwich council is looking at five per cent hike in property taxes, a...

Woolwich looks to add green projects as part of climate action plan

Planting trees remains Woolwich’s priority in rolling out a 0.5 per cent greening levy on property taxes again...


clear sky
-11.5 ° C
-9.4 °
-14 °
84 %
1 %
-1 °
1 °
2 °
1 °
1 °

With fall’s arrival, change is in the air, but that’s not reserved just for the weather. A St. Jacobs historical landmark is being turned over to new owners that will continue the building’s legacy and traditions as the Schoolhouse Theatre is passed on from Mersynergy Charitable Foundation to long-time tenant and partner, Drayton Entertainment.

“We really are honoured to be chosen to continue this legacy and they know it’s in good hands because we have track record of success and it will remain for the use they have intended,” says Alex Mustakas, the artistic director and CEO at Drayton Entertainment.

Jenny Shantz, the executive director of Mersynergy Charitable Foundation, says she’s happy to announce the donation of the Schoolhouse Theatre to Drayton Entertainment.

“It is wonderful to see that its legacy as a home for arts, culture, and community events will continue for many years to come,” she said in announcing the deal this week.

Mersynergy is the charitable offshoot of Mercedes Corp., the Shantz family venture that launched the farmers’ market, outlet mall and much of the development in the village of St. Jacobs. The market lands and associated real estate were sold last year to Schlegel Urban Developments Corp. as the family and private shareholders looked to move out of the investment.

 Among the holdings of Mersynergy was the old schoolhouse, which has been used for artistic purposes for the last couple of decades.       

For many years prior to acquiring the building, Drayton Entertainment was on a “generous lease,” and the organization is honoured to have the space for their performances on a permanent basis, said Mustakas. 

“I think it was the Shantz family way of supporting the arts.”

Usually the company will run shows on a seven-month basis but recently they started by running programs from September until the end of the year, he added.

The theatre company has been using the venue since 1997, with Mustakas recalling the first production they ever ran, Forever Plaid.

“That was a piano and four singers. It creates a real intimate experience. In some cases it feels like the performers are in your living room,” he said with a laugh in reminiscing. Now, 22 years later, he says he’s excited to continue using the space to share the love of arts and entertainment with the community.

With the new owners in place, Shantz said Drayton Entertainment will make great use of the space and will continue building community through its use.

“In addition to the programs they provide, we felt that they would make a great effort to support other community groups who would like an affordable venue to use from time to time.”

The historic building, constructed in 1867, has 100 seats and had been used for community events and for various entertainment shows in the years after its original function. Now the theatre is mainly used by Drayton Entertainment to showcase small comedies, musical reviews and even small musicals. To ensure the venue gets the best use, Mustakas said Drayton Entertainment will be adding an additional production to the theatre in 2020, but added he also wants to ensure the space is still available for community use.

Drayton Entertainment is no stranger to the community, operating the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse as part of its range of venues that includes the original Drayton Festival Theatre, Hamilton Family Theatre in Cambridge and the Huron County Playhouse, among others.

With the Schoolhouse Theatre now under the company’s umbrella, Mustakas is optimistic about its future.

“I think it’s just the beginning after 22 years,” he said with a laugh.

Drayton Entertainment is now looking to expand the uses of the building, adding new ideas and events.

“We’re just in the planning stages,” he said, noting some early ideas include more youth programming, music shows and community events that will add value to the building.

From one charitable organization to another, the Mersynergy Foundation is founded by the Milo Shantz and Ross Shantz families, who have since then passed down the business to their children. Dating back to the 1980s the family foundation was founded to make donations to various not-for-profit charitable organizations, explains Shantz.

“It’s nice to know that it will continue to live on as a gathering place,” Shantz says on the donation of the historic building.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.


The new face of health promotion

There’s a new face around the Woolwich Community Health Centre. Gebre Berlihun has taken on the role of public health promoter after the retirement of 25-year employee Joy Finney in October.

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

EDSS student wins U.S. baseball scholarship

It’s January and nowhere near Florida, but St. Jacobs’ Blake Jacklin is in a baseball frame of mind. That’s not a passing fancy,...

Choir to bring the sounds of Africa to Elmira

Updated Jan 21, 2020: Due to unforeseen circumstances the Watoto Children’s Choir travel has been delayed, so sadly we will have to...

New app a one-stop shop for region’s waste program

Not sure when your garbage will be picked up? What’s currently allowed in the recycling bin? There’s an app for that.

EDCL donates $1,000 as thank-you to Floradale firefighters

Thanking the Woolwich Fire Department, Elmira District Community Living this week donated $1,000 to the Floradale station. Firefighters from Floradale...

Kings win two more to keep streak alive

The Elmira Sugar Kings extended their 2020 winning streak and their hold on the conference standings with a pair of wins over the weekend.
- Advertisement -