Penn Library Department of Special Collections

William Penn

Keffer Collection of Sheet Music,
ca. 1790-1895

Content and design by John Bewley

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Philadelphia in Images: Interior View of Chestnut Street (New) Theatre

Engraving attached to: The Mansion of Peace : Sung by Mr. Chambers at the Opening of the New Theatre / the words by a lady ; composed by Mr. Webbe.
Philadelphia: G. Willig, between 1798 and 1804.
Box 4, no. 51.

The theatre opened on February 2, 1793 with a concert presented by Alexander Reinagle. It was closed after only two weeks in response to fears surrounding an epidemic of yellow fever in the city. It reopened a year later. The interior was a copy of the Theatre Royal in Bath, England. The facade was not completed until 1805. Reinagle served as music director and George Gillingham, violinist, was the orchestra conductor. In the first six seasons Reinagle produced over 75 musical works. The theatre was destroyed by fire in 1820. A new theatre, designed by William Strickland, opened in 1822. This new structure remained in place until 1855 when it was razed to make way for office buildings.

The engraving was not originally issued with this piece of music. It is inscribed "NY Mag. Apr. 1794". The lettering on the banner above the stage is legible as "The eagle suffers little birds to sing".

New Theatre

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Philadelphia in Images

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