WARSAW – In a significant acquisition, three properties tied to Wagon Wheel Theatre have been sold.
Wagon Wheel Theatre, the 2517 meeting room, and adjacent property at 2515 E. Center St. in Warsaw, have been purchased by Wagon Wheel’s non-profit board, according to information released by the theater’s management.
The group has been leasing the theater facility for a number of years and has now worked out an arrangement with the owners to purchase the theater and the adjacent 2517 building, which has been used as a community banquet facility.
The sellers include a coalition of owners headed up by Bruce Shaffner, and include Wagon Wheel Productions, Inc. and Shaffner & Shaffner Enterprises Inc.
InkFreeNews reported nearly two weeks ago that 2517 had been sold, but details of the acquisition were not released at the time.
Bruce Shaffner, who is also part-owner of the adjacent Wyndham Hotel, purchased the theater and its property from multiple owners years ago and had been operating it as a for-profit, private business until the formation of a 501c3 non-profit board, named Wagon Wheel Theatre, Inc, in 2010.
Wagon Wheel Theatre was founded about 65 years ago by longtime Warsaw resident and musician Herb Petrie. Its unique theater-in-the-round venue has earned rave reviews year after year for the quality of its productions, the news release said.
Since the formation of the non-profit board, Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts has been comprised of four separate operating units — Wagon Wheel Theatre, Wagon Wheel Junior, Center Street Community Theatre, and Symphony of the Lakes.
“We are delighted to take this next step in the theater’s journey,” said Wagon Wheel Board President Deb Bishop.
Bishop praised Bruce Shaffner for preserving and maintaining the theater through some difficult years financially, and she noted that the acquisition of the 2517 facility will enable much broader programming for children, including drama and theater workshops for children and adults of all ages.
A Dekko Foundation grant of $300,000 for expanded children’s programming was one of the catalysts to enable the sale, the release said.
Shaffner, who owned and operated the theater for many years and served on its board until recently, noted his delight that the theater is expanding, is on solid financial footing and is providing expanded programming through its four operating units.
“I love the theater,” Shaffner said, “and I am excited for its future under the direction of new leadership.”
The sale was closed earlier this week.
In a related note, Bishop said that the public will soon hear about a modest capital funds drive to expand and upgrade the lobby and restroom area, and to assist in modernizing and updating the facility, the news release said.