The Lady in Charge

In its heyday, Philadelphia’s Arch Street Theatre seated approximately 2,000 patrons for each performance who came to see the renowned thespians of the 19th century. Popular performers – Fanny Davenport, Joseph Jefferson and Charlotte Cushman – played “The Arch” at 819 Arch Street. Even actor John Wilkes Booth took his turn there as Macbeth two years before he...
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Okie Speaks for Pennsbury, Part I

It is no secret that restoring an old house presents a number of headaches, not the least being the question of authenticity. But imagine what it is like to virtually re-create a structure that has been missing for over a century. Most architects would claim that it is impossible, even with good drawings and the best intentions. Never­theless, with a streak of optimism and the blessing of...
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Bookshelf

Historic Houses of Philadelphia by Roger W. Moss University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998 (256 pages, cloth,$34.95) Sumptuous, a word frequently used by restaurant reviewers and critics of haute cuisine, aptly describes Historic Houses of Philadelphia, the latest fare by Roger W. Moss, known widely for his books on Victorian era architecture and ornamentation. Fifty historic houses, mansions, and...
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Wyck: Witness to a Way of Life

Relatively few in Great Britain might think much about a house occupied by one family for nine generations, yet for many in the United States several generations seems an eternity. Wyck, in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, is a rare example; it is a residence inhabited continuously by a single family for nearly three centuries, from 1689 until 1973. Moreover, it’s furnished with...
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Art with a Purpose: Pennsylvania’s Museum Extension Project, 1935-1943

Like other relief programs launched during the Great Depression under the aegis of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, the goal of federal arts programs of the 1930s was two-fold: to rescue unemployed Americans from poverty and to produce something of public benefit. One of the unintended byproducts was controversy. In 1937, the Federal Art and Theatre Project unintentionally...
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