Chestnut Street Theatre



  • One of the earliest US theaters. It was built in Philadelphiaby the US actor Thomas Wignell for a company he had brought over fromEngland and opened in 1794. The theater was a copy of the TheatreRoyal at Bath and the first in America to incorporate the Englishstyle of proscenium. In 1816 it became one of the first theaters tobe lit by gas. The company, which produced a series of successfullight comedies, included three members of the Jefferson family.

    After Wignell's death, the theater was managed by WilliamWood (1779 - 1861) and the elder William Warren (1767 - 1832).Fire damage closed it from 1820 to 1822 and six years later, whenWood retired, it went bankrupt. This was mostly due to competitionfrom the Walnut Street Theatre (opened 1811) and Mrs JohnDrew's Arch Street Theatre (see Drew family). TheChestnut Street Theatre was destroyed by fire in 1855 and rebuiltin 1863: it closed in 1910 and was finally demolished in 1917.

    The Chestnut Street was one of the two US theaters known asOld Drury (the other being New York's Park Theatre).