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The Historic Theaters of Broad Street – Philadelphia PA

Posted on: March 14, 2018

These neighboring Broad Street buildings hide theatre treasures behind their unassuming exteriors! Don’t judge them by their covers, but next time you’re looking for tickets to a live show in the city, remember that could be just the ticket to explore these architectural gems.

The Academy of Music

Academy of Music Philadelphia 2018 Retro Roadmap

The Academy of Music was built in 1855, and is the oldest opera house in the United States that is still used for opera, and is a National Historic Landmark. With its modest exterior you’d never expect the opulence of the interior, but trust me (because I haven’t been allowed in to photograph ’em – YET).

WOW! The horseshoe shaped auditorium packs a visual punch, with its multiple balconies, decorative proscenium and muraled ceiling is a sight to behold, topped off by a crystal chandelier centerpiece. The elegant ballroom is worth a peek too. Mod Betty gets a total Amadeus vibe here and is heartened to know that the The Academy of Music Restoration Fund is set up to ensure that this remains a world class treasure for all of us to enjoy.

Interesting note – despite the name, there has never been a music school at The Academy!

Academy of Music Philadelphia 2018 Retro Roadmap


The Merriam Theatre

Just next door to the Academy (and “hidden” behind an uninspiring 1980s renovation of the facade), the Merriam Theatre is a jewel with a historic past and a bright future.

Merriam Theater Philadelphia 2018 Retro Roadmap

Built in 1918, the auditorium is accessed by a double staircase, once a part of the Horticultural Hall that once stood here. Once at your seat you’ll be able appreciate the decorative plasterwork and murals. It is as if you’ve stepped into a wedding cake!

Photo courtesy of Merriam Theater -photo by Kieran Timberlake

Photo courtesy of Merriam Theater -photo by Kieran Timberlake

Preliminary plans for replacing the street-facing 7 story tower are being considered, to improve access to the theater. At the same time the seating in the auditorium would be improved for modern sized folks, and the decorative elements given a well deserved burnishing.

So if you’re ever in the area – give a second glance to these Broad Street buddies – there’s beauty hidden inside!