Founded in 1950 as the Catholic Theatre of Rochester. It was formed by a small group of actors as an alternative to the conventional community theatre then available. From 1950 to early 1954, productions consisted primarily of traveling shows performed at various parish organizations throughout the Rochester diocese and conventions of the Catholic Theatre Conference.
During our first twelve years of productions, we became a sort of Off-Broadway theatre in Rochester. In an effort to broaden the group's appeal it was decided to change our name. In 1962 the group was rechristened Blackfriars, after the indoor theatre co-owned by William Shakespeare during the reign of King James I.
After 25 years of performing in Xerox Auditorium, we moved into the School of the Arts at 45 Prince Street, in downtown Rochester, completing three seasons as the Theatre-in-Residence.
In the summer of 1997, Blackfriars Theatre completed the renovation of a historic theatre in the East End Cultural District of Rochester, New York. This theatre, which was used as our rehearsal space for over 20 years prior, has become the permanent performance space and home for Blackfriars Theatre.