The daughter of Reverend George P. and Lilly (St. A. Barrett) Huntington, Catharine Sargent Huntington was born in Ashfield, Massachusetts, on December 29, 1886. She graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College in 1911, and taught English and theater at Westover School in Middlebury, Connecticut, 1915-18. At the end of World War I, CSH continued her theatrical career abroad, acting under the direction of Joseph Lindon Smith on the French Riviera. Later she arranged and directed a pageant put on by French village children in the area of St. Quentin .
CSH directed her first production in Boston, a play by Chekhov, for the Boston Stage Society, an organization which she co-founded in 1922. In Boston she also worked as a coach at the Allied Arts Center, where a group of black artists worked together to produce original plays. From 1930 to 1935 she was with Mr. Punch's Workshop, a hand puppet company. In 1938, with Edwin Petett and Virginia Thoms, she established the New England Repertory Theater, which performed in Boston during the winter season and in Provincetown during the summer, where it became known as the Provincetown Playhouse . CSH owned the Playhouse from 1940 to 1973 and devoted much of its time to the work of her close friend, Eugene O'Neill, keeping his plays in the public view at a time when few theaters ventured to produce them. In 1966, the Provincetown Playhouse featured an O'Neill festival, performing ten of his plays. In 1977, the Playhouse and its library, which contained important O'Neill memorabilia, were destroyed by fire. CSH was also a founder of the Poets' Theater, which flourished in Cambridge during the 1950s and 60s.
The recipient of the 1966 Rodgers and Hammerstein Award for outstanding contributions to New England theater, CSH was also honored by the New England Theater Association and the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association . On her 97th birthday she received a citation from Governor Michael Dukakis and greetings from President Ronald Reagan, among others. The Boston City Council declared March 28 Catharine Huntington Day, in recognition of "a life which nourished and inspired generations of theater artists."
An active supporter of Sacco and Vanzetti, CSH was arrested in 1927 for taking part in a demonstration outside the State House in Boston. She served as a member of the Sacco-Vanzetti Memorial Committee after their execution. She was an avid gardener and was recognized repeatedly for her horticultural successes by a number of Massachusetts area garden clubs. CSH died in Roxbury, Massachusetts, on February 27, 1987.
From the guide to the Papers, 1913-1987 (scattered), n.d., (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute)