March 26, 2021

Episode 2 - Images of Plumstead's Warehouse, the Southwark Theatre, and the New Theatre in Philadelphia

Episode 2 - Images of Plumstead's Warehouse, the Southwark Theatre, and the New Theatre in Philadelphia

As promised, here is an image of the Old Theatre, or the Southwark Theatre, which stood for many years on Cedar Street (now South Street) in Philadelphia. It caught fire in 1821, and was mostly destroyed, but it was somewhat rebuilt and used and a warehouse and a brewery. It lasted, in fact, to 1913, when it was finally torn down (see photo below).

 Southwark Theatre 1913

Plumstead's Warehouse, which acted as the FIRST theater within Philadelphia proper in 1749, is thought to be depicted here, on the right of the group of three buildings, in this detail of a drawing of Philadelphia in the mid-18th Century:

 Plumstead's Warehouse


The interior of Wignell and Reinagle's New Theatre, as pictured in New York Magazine, April 1794. (Courtesy the Library Company of Philadelphia):

Interior of the Chestnut Street Theatre April 1794

Selected Bibliography for this Episode:

Davis, Andrew, America's Longest Run: a History of the Walnut Street Theatre, The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2014, pp. 8–22.

Dunlap, William, History of the American Theatre, J. & J. Harper, 1832. Digitized 2009. pp. 1-277.

Durang, Charles, History of the Philadelphia Stage, Between the Years 1749 and 1855.  Volume 1: 1749 to 1818. Arranged and illustrated by Thompson Westcott, 1868. (Available online courtesy Penn Library, Colenda Digital Repository.)

Houchin, John, H., "The Struggle for Virtue: Professional Theatre in 18th Century Philadelphia," Theatre History Studies 19 (June 1999).

James, Reese Davis, editor. Cradle of Culture: 1800-1810, the Philadelphia Stage, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1957, pp. 15–35.

Quinn, Arthur Hobson. A History of American Drama, from the Beginning to the Civil War, Harper & Brothers, 1923, pp. 1–135.

Philadelphia: a 300-Year History, R. Weigley ed., W.W. Norton & Company, 1982, pp. 1–207.

Pollock, Thomas Clark. The Philadelphia Theatre in the Eighteenth Century ... Together with the Day Book of the Same Period, Greenwood, 1968.

Watson, John F., Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania in the Old Times, Vol. I, 1850, (Digitized by the Internet Archives 2008) pp. 471-474.