Philadelphia Academy of Music

Philadelphia, PA

The Academy of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was opened in 1857, which makes it the oldest opera house in the United States.  Also known as the American Academy of Music, it was designed in the Renaissance Revival style with Baroque influences by the architecture form of Lebrun and Runge, with Napoleon Lebrun being the principal architect. In preparation, Lebrun visited the great opera houses of Europe, and was particularly influenced by Milan’s Teatro della Scala. A prominent architect of the day in Philadelphia and New York, Lebrun designed such buildings as the Cathedral-Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia (1846-1864) and the Masonic Tempe in Manhattan (1870-1875). The theatre was designed as a concert hall and an opera house, with approximately 3,000 seats; despite its name, it never contained a music school.

The Academy of Music has been continuously used as a musical auditorium since its opening in 1857. It was home to the Philadelphia Ballet, Opera Philadelphia, and most prominently to the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1900 to 2001, who continue to own the building today even after moving to a new facility. It has retained its historic integrity, with restorations being periodically performed beginning in 1956. It was recorded on the Historic American Building Survey in 1979 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

EverGreene was contracted to perform conservation treatments on the 19th century, highly decorative auditorium ceiling. EverGreene staff stabilized, conserved, and repaired the plaster on the ceiling where necessary. Decorative artists then conserved and restored the paint and decorative scheme, including gilding areas that had aged and tarnished. Conservators cleaned and conserved the original murals, completing the ceiling restoration and reinstating the original splendor.