St. Charles Theatre
St. Charles between Poydras and Gravier Streets

"This magnificent temple of the Drama was, like its humble neighbor, built entirely by James H. Caldwell, to whose enterprise and energy the upper section of our city owes so much. But the professors and admirers of the drama owe him still more. What has required a long period of years, a large number of rich patrons, and a variety of favorable circumstances to effect elsewhere, the industry and professional enthusiasm of one man has accomplished here. Mr. Caldwell, and his company of actors, arrived in this city from Virginia in December 1819 [sic], per schooner Betsey, and on the 7th January 1819, they made their first appearance in New Orleans, at the St. Philip-street Theatre. Their opening performance of the "Honey Moon" and "Three and the Deuce," brought $700, the utmost capacity of the house. Shortly after the new (present) French Theatre in Orleans-street was opened, and the company forthwith removed to it, and for three seasons continued to play in it four nights a week, and in St. Philip-street Theatre on the other three. On the 29th May, 1822, the foundation stone of the Camp-street Theatre was laid, and the house opened on the 14th May, 1823.

On the 9th May, 1835, the corner stone of the great St. Charles Theatre was laid; and though in its process of building, its enterprising owner had to contend with ninety days of continued rain, it was opened, as resolved on by Mr. Caldwell, on the 30th November, in the same year, with the "School for Scandal" and "Spoiled Child." This magnificent structure, erected by the unassisted energies of one man, has a frontage of one hundred and thirty-two feet, and a depth of an hundred and seventy-five. Its capacity, and accommodations within, correspond with the magnitude of its exterior. The grand saloon is 129 feet by 26; it has four tiers of boxes, surmounted with enormous galleries; at the back of 47 of its boxes, are convenient boudoirs, or retiring rooms. In the centre of the dome is suspended a magnificent chandelier--12 feet in height, 36 feet in circumference, weighing 4200 weight, and illuminated with 176 gas lights. This brilliant article was manufactured by Brooks & Hughes, of London, and contains 23,300 cut glass drops, weighing 9 cwt. and 9 qrs., has 23 cwt. of brass work, and 9 cwt. of iron in its construction. From the curtain to the back of the boxes is 78 feet; across the boxes 71 feet. The proscenium is 50 feet, with an opening of 44 feet. From the pit floor to the ceiling, is 54 feet, and from the stage to the roof, 62. The scenery is 44 high, and 48 wide, with the wings; and from wall to wall, the stage in 96 feet wide, and 78 feet deep, from the Orchestra line.

From these proportions, contrasted with those of any other theatre in the Union, some idea may be formed of the beauty and extent of the St. Charles, and its splendor is quite proportionate to its dimensions. Its cost was $350,000, and it stands on the east side of St. Charles-street, near Poydras, the proudest monument of zeal and industry, ever raised to the honor of an individual citizen in his life-time."

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