The Auditorium

The auditorium of the Chestnut Street Theatre was in no way out of the ordinary. Moreau de Saint-Mery rather liked it, however. "The interior is handsome," he wrote.

"The arrangement of the boxes is in an agreeable semi-ellipse. The boxes are in three tiers, one above the other, fifteen boxes in each. Of these fifteen, each of the five facing the stage has seven rows of benches and will thus seat thirty-five people. . . . Each of the ten side boxes in each tier has two rows of benches and will seat four people in each row. Each row of boxes will seat 255, a total of 755 seats in the boxes. The pit is raked from the first tier of boxes to the orchestra pit. It contains thirteen rows of benches each capable of seating about thirty persons, or a total of about 400.

The auditorium is painted gray with a gold design. The third row of boxes even has slender gilt railings of some elegance. The boxes, between which a small pilaster at the front almost blocks the view, are papered in tasteless red paper.

The auditorium is lighted by small four-branched chandeliers placed in every other box beginning with the middle of the second on each side, so that the upper rail of each tier of boxes has seven. Each hangs on an S-shaped gilded iron bracket.

The orchestra pit holds 30 musicians in two rows facing each other."

[In Moreau de Saint-Méry's Voyage aux Étas-Unis de l'Amérique, 1793-1798.]

James Mease, too, approved of the interior of the theatre. You "enter the lobby and pass to the corridors, which communicate with all the boxes," he tells us. "Those [seats] in front of the stage are disposed in form of an amphitheatre; the seats of the whole, with those of the pit and gallery, are arranged so as to give the spectator the greatest advantages."

"The fronts of the lodges or boxes, together with the ceiling, are handsomely gilt and decorated, hung with corresponding drapery between the columns." [In Mease' Picture of Philadelphia, 1811. pp. 330-31]


These glowing testimonies are supported, if any support is needed, by the report in the New York Magazine or Literary Repository, of April 1791.