The historic Parry Barn was recently rededicated by the Bucks County Playhouse.
The barn has undergone renovations to include a performance space for cabaret series, poetry readings, classical music, and other arts events. It is now known as the Bill Harris and Jay Manas Playhouse Barn.
The space will also serve educational programs, house a patron lounge, and feature exhibits from the Playhouse and New Hope Historical Society archives. It will also be available for private functions, and the barn offers a setting for business meetings and small celebrations.
The barn’s history dates back to approximately 1790 as part of the Parry family estate, linked to the adjacent Parry Mansion and the Playhouse’s original flour mill site. The New Hope Historical Society acquired the barn in 1958, averting its demolition, and utilized it as a commercial space to fund the restoration of the Parry Mansion Museum.
“The barn, one of the oldest stone structures in New Hope, is being named for two long-time residents of Upper Black Eddy in Bucks County who were not only partners of more than 30 years, but also were well-known and loved in the community. Manas died almost three decades ago, and Harris passed away last year after a lengthy battle with Parkinson’s disease,” according to the playhouse.
Alexander Fraser, the Producing Director of Bucks County Playhouse, expressed gratitude for the expansion opportunity and the support of Bill Nolan, representing Jay Manus and Bill Harris.
The barn memorializes Harris and Manas, long-time partners and community figures. The endowment to the Playhouse comes from a trust established by Manas, with Nolan as the trustee.
“Expanding our campus to include the Parry barn is a dream come true for Bucks County Playhouse,” said Fraser. “Last year, when we first announced our desire to preserve this building — one of New Hope’s most beautiful and historic — we could not have imagined an angel like Bill Nolan would share our vision and bring support on behalf of Jay Manus and Bill Harris.”
Nolan recounted Harris’s devotion to theater, particularly in Bucks County, maintained through friends who included him in Playhouse events.
The Manas trust contribution is among the Playhouse’s most substantial individual donations.
The dedication ceremony featured Broadway performer Ashley Blanchet, who appeared on Broadway as Elsa in “Frozen,” “Beautiful,” “Annie,” and “Memphis.” She was accompanied by Bob Egan, who created the Cabaret of Odette’s, the famed New Hope nightclub where he entertained for 21 years.