Stairs in reconstructions present a very complex problem. There is no such thing as a "standard" rise. We have seen broad staircases from the 18th and 19th centuries with rises of as little as 6 inches, while a late 18th century country home outside Elizabeth City, North Carolina has a stairway to the second floor which boasts rises which vary from 11 to 13 inches, virtually a ladder.

In reconstructing the Chestnut Street Theatre, we have been guided by both the elevation and plan. Although the two sides of the plan do not necessarily agree in the number of steps in each stairway, we have been able to assign a value to the rise and, using the computer, try a number of "what if" scenarios to find a rise that works for the number of stairs in the plan and the placement of windows in the elevation.

The pitfalls inherent in this process have been explored in depth in "Philadelphia's Chestnut Street Theatre: A Plan and Elevation," (John R. Wolcott) in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, October 1971. vol.XXX, no. 3. pp. 209-218.