America's Oldest · Founded 1808

State Theatre of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania House of Representatives Designates Walnut Street Theatre "State Theatre of Pennsylvania"

Walnut Street Theatre has been designated the State Theatre of Pennsylvania. This honor is contained in House Resolution No. 197, as passed by the State House of Representatives. HR 197 reads as follows:

This Eagle ordained the proscenium arch of the mainstage from 1920 until 1963. It now hangs on a wall in the mezzanine lobby.


Designating the Walnut Street Theatre at 9th and Walnut Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the "State Theatre of Pennsylvania."

WHEREAS, The Walnut Street Theatre was built in 1809, and it has remained the oldest theatre in America; and

WHEREAS, During the theatre's long history in this Commonwealth, it has reflected overall development of American theatre; and

WHEREAS, The theatre's earliest performance was the "New Circus," an equestrian act, and the first play was Sheridan's "The Rivals" in 1812; and

WHEREAS, Continuing its noteworthy history, the Walnut Street Theatre marked the premiere and final stage performance of Edwin Forrest, a native Pennsylvanian and one of America's finest actors of the theatre; and

WHEREAS, The Walnut Street Theatre featured performances by famous American and European artists, including Fanny Kemble, Lilly Langtry, Edmund Kean, Ellen Tree and Thomas Cooper, and continued to be a leader in American theatre with appearances by Henry Fonda, Julie Harris, W.C. Fields, Paul Robeson, Harry Houdini, Leslie Howard, the Gish Sisters, Ethel Waters, Katharine Hepburn, the Marx Brothers, Helen Hayes and many others; and

WHEREAS, The Walnut Street Theatre was the site of the Presidential debate between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford and other special events; and

WHEREAS, A major renovation in 1970 saved the theatre from demolition, and the theatre grew to become the largest theatre east of the Mississippi in its number of subscribers and earned recognition for its theatre school and community outreach program; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives designate the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the "State Theatre of Pennsylvania."