In 1934, local advertising tycoon, Richard S. Rauh purchased a German Social Club located on Hamlet Street for his wife, Helen Wayne Rauh, whom he promised a stage if she remained in Pittsburgh. For the next 30 years, The Pittsburgh Playhouse remained committed to a semi-professional, community theatre. The lobby of the former German Social Club, now the Hamlet Street Theatre (later the Rauh Theatre), was an adjacent house purchased by the Rauh’s and connected to the Theatre. One of City’s most glamorous hot spots was the Pittsburgh Playhouse Restaurant located under the theatre. A former ballroom, the restaurant included 3 dining rooms with seating for 250 people, a kitchen with a myriad of catacomb-like rooms, an ice cream parlor as well as its own water features.
In 1947, classes begin in all aspects of theatre, formalizing the Playhouse tradition of hands-on learning. The school offered a full-time curriculum with instructors and students that included Edith Skinner, Shirley Jones, Gene Kelly, Sada Thompson, George Peppard and Charles Grodin.
The growth of the Playhouse continued into the 1950’s with the addition of two more theatres; the Upstairs Theatre and the Craft Avenue Theatre, later the Rockwell Theatre. The Rockwell was the original Tree of Life Synagogue prior to the congregation’s move to Squirrel Hill. About the same time, ‘Playhouse Jr.’ is added becoming the second longest running children’s theatre in the nation until 2018. Also, the dance program founder Nicolas Petrov, was a founder and artistic director of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, which was then housed in Point Park College The ballet program is an integral part of the nationally recognized dance program in the Conservatory.
By the early 1960’s, the theatre was under increasing financial distress and entered into a joint venture with Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Mellon University with the goal of creating a professional theatre. William Ball formed The American Conservatory Theatre A.C.T and after one season relocated to San Francisco.
1968, Point Park College acquires the Pittsburgh Playhouse, enhancing the tradition of a performing arts education. The Playhouse, located on the corner of Craft Avenue and Hamlet Street in Oakland, becomes the performing arts arm of the Conservatory of Performing Arts and remains so until 2018 when Point Park University opens the New Pittsburgh Playhouse in Downtown, Pittsburgh. The New Playhouse is a state-of-the-art, three theatre arts center that serves Point Park University, its students, as well as the Pittsburgh Arts community.