Glazer, Irvin R., Philadelphia Theaters:  A Pictorial Architectural History from the Collection of The Athenaeum of Philadelphia. A Joint Publication of The Athenaeum of Philadelphia and Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1994.

“The Empire Theatre, Broad and Locust Streets, was designed by architect Willis G. Hale…and opened in 1891.  This elaborate work may have been Philadelphia’s only theatre built in the Queen Anne style.  Before it was replaced by the Walton Hotel (also designed by Hale) in 1898, this theater and the adjacent Broad Street Theatre presented a fantastic architectural contrast to the staid Academy of Music, directly across Broad Street” p. xxi.

Empire capacity:  1,590  “Two huge Norman turrets with Spanish tile cones topped by spires were at each end of the Broad Street front of this huge façade.  Three Ogee arches at the first level topped by thirty Islamic arches at the second and third levels rose to a pagoda type roof.  The eclectic affect standing adjacent to the Alhambra Palace Broad Street Theatre was a statement in contrasts. The Empire erected in 1891 was a legitimate theatre featuring large scenic products.  Its history was short because the site was too valuable for a theatre and it was replaced by the large Walton Hotel in 1898.  The arches, turret effects and spires similar to the Empire theatre were reproduced with the building of the Walton Hotel” p. 104.  

 

 

Glazer, Irvin R., Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z:  A Comprehensive, Descriptive Record of 813 Theatres Constructed Since 1724. Greenwood Press, Westport CT, 1986, p. 223.

Theatre capacity: 2,200, “The architects for the 1855 Masonic Hall which was converted later into the Temple Theatre were Samuel Sloan and John Stewart.  The Masonic Hall which opened in 1810 and burned March 9, 1819 was replaced, and in 1841, was Charles Willson Peale’s Museum displaying rarities like the Siamese Twins.  In 1846, it became a regular theatre and in 1855 a new, lavishly appointed Masonic Hall was built.  The Mason’s, on the move again, built their monumental temple across from City Hall, and the Chestnut Street building was used for various exhibitions until 1885 when it was rebuilt into the Temple Theatre with the Egyptian Museum in the basement.

            “Darrel L. Sewell, Curator of American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, includes a description of the Grand Lodge Room of the 1855 Masonic Hall in the museum publication “Philadelphia:  Three Centuries of American Art”:  ‘It was ornamented and furnished in the most chromatic orchestration of the Gothic vocabulary, pulling out all the stops in an adaption of an ecclesiastic arrangement at a high altar…Gothic motifs…flanked by statues in niches.  The walls were supported by columns terminating in a delicate polychromed web of fan tracery…The space was calculated to have a breathtaking effect;; dominating hues of blue and gold evoked pageantry…The designers felt free to draw upon recognized architectural conventions as well as to add their own imagination to create one of the Gothic revival’s most dazzling showcases.’

            “What must have been the magnificence of the Temple Theatre was enhanced by the fact of its being the first electrically illuminated theatre in Philadelphia.  All of this grandeur came to a fiery end on December 27, 1886.  The building was destroyed, but undamaged in the basement was a statuary group representing the Crucifixion.”