Woodward Opera House Dress Circle

In this view from the dress circle of the horseshoe shaped balcony, stored seats can be seen on the main floor. To make the venue usable for more events than just shows, the decision was made to flatten the previously raked floor and use moveable chairs instead of permanently installed seats. When set up for performances, the chairs will face the stage.

MOUNT VERNON -- It's a never-ending marketing game to try and claim superlatives, but Mount Vernon's Woodward Opera House earns its tag of being the nation's “oldest authentic 19th century theater.”

In contrast, the oldest continuously operating theater in the United States is the Walnut Street Theater, in Philadelphia, which has been running since 1807. Along the way, though, that theater has updated its stages continuously to the point that it looks like pretty much any modern theater.