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About the Academy

Support the Academy,
A National Historic Landmark Restoration and Preservation Fund

Along with the Anniversary Concert and Ball, the Restoration and Preservation Fund Annual Giving Campaign is a significant fundraising effort for the Academy of Music. While proceeds from the Concert and Ball are shared between the Academy of Music and The Philadelphia Orchestra, all of the monies donated to the Restoration Fund go directly to the restoration and preservation of the Academy.

Founded in 1957 at the Academy's centennial by Stuart F. Louchheim and a group of civic-minded businessmen, the Restoration and Preservation Fund has been instrumental in restoring the Academy to its current splendor. Combined proceeds from the Concert and Ball and the Annual Giving Campaign have gone towards numerous restoration projects, including a new main house curtain, designed and woven by Scalamandré, conservation of the ceiling murals and wood sculptures, the restoration of the main lobby and grand staircase to their former splendor, and the renovation, soundproofing, and carpeting of the ballroom. Two new elevators were installed, thanks to the generosity of Ambassador and Mrs. Walter H. Annenberg, making all levels of the auditorium accessible to the physically challenged. The Academy was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963.

Please contact The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Academy of Music, at 215.893.1978 for more information or to give a contribution to the Academy of Music's Restoration and Preservation Fund.

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Project for the Twenty-First Century

The 146-year-old Academy of Music is the oldest known continuously operating opera house in the United States. The building, constructed in 1857, was built using solid brick bearing walls and timber framed floors and roof. It has served for the last 147 years as Philadelphia's premier opera house and served for over a century as home to The Philadelphia Orchestra. The Project for the Twenty-First Century began in 1994 with three objectives: 1) improvements for the patrons; 2) improvements for the performers; and 3) operational improvements to the building. All of these improvements required significant changes and adaptations in order for the Academy of Music to meet or even come close to the technological advances normally included today in new performance halls and theaters.

The vast amount of work was completed during the summers of 1994 through 1999, with the final phase, called "Raising the Roof," completed in October 2002.

1994: Acoustical improvements of the auditorium doors, new parquet circle seating

1995: Underpinning of the stagehouse basement walls, installation of new mechanical, fire protection, and new electrical service to and within the building to the existing electrical panels

1996: Installation of a new steel supplemental roof structure over the auditorium ceiling, new air handlers in stage right and left mechanical rooms

1997: New stagehouse foundations and new wood stage floor, new on-grade Locust Street loading, new orchestra lift, new piano lift and upstage lift, new parquet seating, new theatrical lighting system new computerized theatrical lighting positions, new sound, video and communication systems

1998: New acoustical treatment applied to the rear wall and proscenium boxes in the auditorium, new decorative wall sconces on the main floor, conservation of the mural ceiling, painting of the interior of the house, reupholstering of all the seats, new ADA seating areas on the main floor and balcony, new front of house lighting positions

1999: New orchestra shell, new decorative main curtain, new lower lounge with concessionaire areas and new large toilet rooms, new coat check, rebuilding of the proscenium box front at the amphitheatre level

2002: Raising of the stagehouse roof ten feet, to accommodate modern theatrical lighting and rigging

"Raising the Roof" Capital Campaign

The "Raising the Roof" project, completed in October 2002, marks the final phase of the Academy of Music "Project for the Twenty-First Century." Starting in 1994, the project included asbestos removal; basement excavations; installation of new steel supporting trusses above the auditorium; restoration and renovation of seating, seating areas, and surfaces throughout the auditorium; backstage renovations; a new stage floor; and new stage shell for concerts, as well as electrical and mechanical upgrading, replacement, and refurbishing. Just under $30 million was spent in six phases of renovation through 2001, with most work scheduled during summer months to allow uninterrupted operation of the building as host for over 400 concerts, rehearsals, performances, and community events each year. The remaining $10 million cost of the "Raising the Roof" project (and related capital costs) brings the total money invested in refurbishing the building since 1993 to just over $40 million, raised by and through the efforts of The Philadelphia Orchestra Association, including the Orchestra's annual Academy of Music Anniversary Concert & Ball.

With these final renovations in place, the Academy of Music will be equipped to serve the greater Philadelphia community for generations to come. The city will have never before had such opportunities to experience performances by dance, Broadway, theater and opera companies from around the world, as well as extended runs of productions by our own Philadelphia companies. "Raising the Roof" secures this exciting future.

Major support for "Raising the Roof" comes from a grant from Philadelphia Foundation's RPAC and Resident Company Support Fund, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Annenberg Foundation, and the Lenfest Foundation. This project is also supported by a Save America's Treasures grant administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.