Patrick Gabridge & Courtney O’Connor

Using the Hancock Door to Unlock Unheard Historical Voices

The Hancock Mansion was erected in 1737 by Thomas Hancock, Boston’s richest merchant, atop Beacon Hill. His nephew, John Hancock, who was the first elected Governor of Massachusetts, inherited the House in 1764 and it served as a prominent meeting spot during the lead up to the Revolution and beyond. John Hancock was a popular benefactor and politician in Boston and was the first elected governor of Massachusetts. By the mid-1800s the Mansion had fallen out of style and the family struggled to maintain it, and 1863 it was torn down and some items were auctioned off.

The destruction of the House spurred the creation of the historical preservation movement in Boston, which helped save the Old State House, the Old South Meeting House, the Paul Revere House, and many other buildings.

The door from the Hancock Mansion is on display at the Old State House, and a new one-act play explores unheard voices from history and the Hancock household. This session will share the history of the house and Hancock household, as well as the process of creating site- and object-specific theatrical work.

Patrick Gabridge

Patrick Gabridge is Producing Artistic Director for Plays in Place (, which works in partnership with museums, historic sites, and other cultural institutions to create exciting site-specific theatrical plays and presentations. In recent years, he’s returned to his site-specific explorations, writing Blood on the Snow for The Bostonian Society, which had sold out runs in 2016 and 2017, and Both/And, a play about quantum entanglement, for the Central Square Theater and the MIT Museum, which played at the MIT Museum in 2017 and 2018. Patrick wrote and produced Cato & Dolly for The Bostonian Society, which was part of their Through the Keyhole exhibit around unheard voices from American history and the door from the Hancock Mansion in 2018 and 2019. In addition, he was the artist-in-residence at the Mount Auburn Cemetery from 2018-2019, where he wrote and produced The America Plays and The Nature Plays, both produced by Plays in Place.

Courtney O’Connor

Courtney O’Connor ( is the artistic director of the Lyric Stage Company of Boston and is a senior affiliated performing arts faculty member at Emerson College. For Plays in Place she has directed Cato & Dolly, The America Plays, and The Nature Plays. She has directed with many theaters in the Boston area, including Lyric Stage Company of Boston, The Nora Theatre, AIM Stage, Coyote Theatre, Emerson Stage, UMass Boston, Suffolk University, Brandeis University, and Commonwealth Shakespeare Company (intern company).

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