John Wilkes Booth’s Cane at Drake Well Museum

Precisely 150 years ago this summer, actor-cum-assassin John Wilkes Booth (1838-1865) – who had joined the stock company of Philadelphia’s Arch Street Theatre in 1857 where he acted for the season – spent more than a month in northwestern Pennsylvania’s oil region looking after his investments during petroleum’s boom years. While appearing at the theatre, later managed by Louisa Lane...
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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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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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