Before the Westport Country Playhouse was founded in 1931 by Lawrence Langner, a New York theater producer, the theater was actually an 1830s tannery.

The building that is now the Westport Country Playhouse was originally constructed in 1835 as a tannery by R&H Haight, owned by Henry Haight. Charles H. Kemper acquired the tannery from Henry Haight's widow in 1866 and subsequently renamed the business C.H. Kemper Co.

In 1880 Kemper installed steam-powered cider mill.

In 1930, the former tannery, which had been unused since the 1920s, was purchased for $14,000 by Lawrence Langner.