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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John Wilkes Booth and the Land of Oil

Beginning about 10:25 on the evening of April 14, 1865, the time and date President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in Washington’s Ford Theatre by John Wilkes Booth, a mass of information including evidence and myths has accumulated regarding the act and those connected with it, particularJy about the assassin him­self. John Wilkes Booth was the ninth of ten children born to Junius...
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Now Presenting American’s Oldest Playhouse: The Walnut Street Theatre

It all started with the circus. Early in the nineteenth century, the New Circus, as it was called, was located at the corner of Walnut and Ninth Streets in Philadelphia, several blocks west of the State House (now Independence Hall). On February 2, 1809, an advertisement in the newspaper Aurora announced that “Messrs. Pepin and Breschard, Professors of the art of Horsemanship and agility,...
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The Barrymores of Philadelphia: America’s Royal Family of the Theatre

America’s fabled royal family of the theatre, the Barrymores — a name recognized throughout the world by generations of audiences — began its meteoric rise in mid-nineteenth- century Philadelphia. The twentieth-century scions of entertainment — Lionel, Ethel, and John Barrymore — were born in Philadelphia, children of the rapscallion English charmer, Maurice Barrymore (1847–1905) and his equally...
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