James Mease' Account of the Theatre

In Mease' Picture of Philadelphia, 1811. pp. 330-31

The Exterior

    "The theatre in Chestnut, near Sixth street, was founded in the year 1791; and enlarged and improved, as it now stands, in 1805. It presents a handsome front on Chestnut Street, of ninety feet, including two wings, of fifteen feet each. The center building is ornamented with two spirited and well executed figures, of tragedy and comedy (by Rush), on each side of a great Venetian window, over which, in two circular tablets, are emblematical insignia. The top of this center building is crowned by a pediment. The wings, opened by large windows, recede a little from front, above, but project below, twelve feet, to the line of the street, faced with marble; these pavilions are decorated with emblematic figures, in tablets, and connected together by a colonnade of ten fancy Corinthian columns."

The Interior of the Auditorium

    "The extreme depth of the theatre is one hundred and thirty-four feet; the interior is judiciously and handsomely arranged. In the wings are the green room, dressing rooms, scene rooms, &c. Through the projecting wings or pavilions, you pass to the stairs of the galleries; under the colonnade, the left hand door leads to the pit, but to the boxes you ascend in front, by a flight of marble steps, enter the lobby and pass to the corridors, which communicate with all the boxes. Those 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 Stage

    "The stage occupies a front between the boxes of thirty-six feet, and runs back upwards of seventy-one feet. Over the stage, occupying part of the entablature and plafond of the front scene, is an emblematic representation of America, encouraging the drama, under which are the words, "For useful mirth, and salutary woe."

Decoration of the House

    "The fronts of the lodges or boxes, together with the ceiling, are handsomely gilt and decorated, hung with corresponding drapery between the columns."

The Scenery

    "The scenery of the stage is well arranged, and calculated both in execution and design to produce the best effect.

For convenience, comfort and elegance of arrangement, few theatres of the size, any where, can vie with this."

Seating Capacity

    "This theatre is computed to hold about two thousand persons, of which number nine hundred may be accommodated in the boxes."