About the Reconstruction of the Chestnut Street Theatre

Drawings On the Web Site The Museum Model Hypertext Presentation

Evolution of the Reconstruction

I was introduced to the documents which came to be known as the "Henry Warren Scrapbook" in the Fall of 1964 by Professor Charles Ritter , Department of Speech and Theatre, The Ohio State University, and began working with the material almost immediately in the Theatre Collection. I have maintained an interest in the Chestnut Street Theatre ever since, and continued research off and on for thirty years while a member of the faculty of the University of Washington School of Drama.

Henry Warren, brother of William Warren, co-founder of the Chestnut Street Theatre, was for may years a scenic artist. Henry began working at the Chestnut Street Theatre in 1806, at the age of 13, and probably apprenticed for several years under such early North American luminaries as Luke Robbins, John Joseph Holland, Charles Milbourne and John Worrell of Boston and Rhode Island.*

  • Sketch Plans of the Theatre

  • The Nisbet/Darley Plan and Elevation

  • The Models of the Theatre

    About the Drawings on the Web Site

    The computer model of the Chestnut Street Theatre was developed in an early computer assisted design and drafting (CADD) program called Generic CADD. The original work was in 2D CADD.

  • From Paper to Computer

  • The 3D Model

    Hypertext Presentation

    The reconstruction of the Chestnut Street Theatre was originally presented in an early hypertext program called Guide (Owl International), several years before the existence of the World Wide Web. Guide was considerably more functional than the Web: the program could control external devices such as laser disc players and video tape recorders, and was far more flexible than the Web with regard to page layout and multiple windowing.

    The functionality of Guide enabled researchers to develop a laser disc which accompanied the Chestnut Street Theatre drawings, allowing for the presentation of historic clothing, with actors modeling its 20th century theatrical counterpart. In addition, the laser disc included several video clips of actors chroma-keyed into 19th century toy theatres, thereby creating an excellent sense for the viewer of what might have been seen during an evening at the Chestnut Street Theatre. Finally, the disc contained numerous 18th and 19th century engravings and paintings which illustrated life in and about the theatre.

    In porting the Chestnut Street Theatre project from Guide to the Web, much had to be abandoned. The decision was made to limit the Web presentation to an exploration of the theatre building.


    The Chestnut Street Theatre is a complex environment for theatrical performance. Every effort has been made to enable an understanding of its various parts. In most instances, several different views of the same area of the building have been presented.

    To help keep viewers from getting lost in the building, a tool bar containing links to the plan, half plan, elevation and three dimensional views of the building from the east and west has been included at the top of each page of drawings.