Walnut Street Theatre



  • A theater in Philadelphia, the oldest US theater still in usetoday. Built in 1809 as a circus venue, it was converted to use asa theater in 1811 to compete with the established and successful ChestnutStreet Theatre. The rivalry between the two theaters was suchthat both lavished vast amounts of money on importing fashionableBritish and European acts in attempts to outdo each other. The appearanceof another rival, the Arch Street Theatre, in 1828 provedtoo much for the two better-established venues, both of which becamebankrupt in 1829 as a result of their wild extravagance.

    The Walnut Street Theatre recovered, however, and went onto support a talented stock company, even though New York was alreadyreplacing Philadelphia as the centre of the US theater. The WalnutStreet Theatre was redesigned in 1970 to accommodate an audience of1052. The Philadelphia Drama Guild was based here from 1971 until1980. The Walnut Street Theatre Corporation now offers a subscription seriesof five main-stage plays every year, as well as a range of studio productionsand children's events.