Rehearsing for the 2016 performance of “The Old Peabody Pew” are, from left, Karla Fossett, Jane McCarthy, Sharon House and Carolyn Vail. File photo

The pandemic and declining interest appears to have closed the curtain on a time-honored Christmas tradition in Buxton.

“The Old Peabody Pew” will not be produced in Buxton for the third consecutive year and it’s likely it won’t be staged again by the Dorcas Society of Hollis and Buxton.

The women’s charitable group has produced the two-act romantic comedy since 1916 at Tory Hill Meetinghouse to usher in the holiday season.

The playwright, famed children’s author Kate Douglas Wiggin, set “The Old Peabody Pew: A Christmas Romance of a Country Church,” in Buxton. Wiggin founded the Dorcas Society in 1897.

In the play, Justin Peabody returns home to Buxton nearly penniless to win the hand of Nancy Wentworth, who he had left behind to seek his fortune.

At one time, the play packed the church. Women would hand down their roles to their daughters, and a Bonny Eagle student always was selected to play the part of young Sally Bixby.


It was last performed in 2019.

“A great show but it didn’t have the following as in times past,” Dorcas Society President Catherine Lamson said.

That, combined with a rehearsal schedule that took busy volunteers’ time away from their families and other factors, spurred the Dorcas Society to call it off this year and potentially permanently.

“We will evaluate it in the future,” Lamson said.

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