Born in Morenci, Michigan and graduating from the University of Michigan, Rowena Stevens, founder of the Pocono Playhouse, performed in and managed USO shows overseas during World War II.
It was this experience with the USO that led her to build the summer theater.
She selected the Pocono Mountains as the site for the new venture owing to the region’s central location between the Lehigh Valley and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, according to a 1966 article in The Pocono Record.
Being near the resort businesses was an additional factor.
Her theater would be constructed on farmland in Mountainhome, and the building style would be similar to that used for USO shows during the war in Europe.
Stevens had learned the usefulness and adaptability of those buildings while touring with the USO and adopted the idea for her theater, the article reveals.
The 500-seat playhouse opened in 1947 with a small company of resident actors. It developed into a major theater, producing plays and musical shows that were headlined with stars of stage, screen and television.
Stevens died in 1975 at the age of 69. Her once beloved theater left in ruin after a fire in 2009.
The original 1966 article