Q. Is it true that Oscar Wilde gave a lecture at PHS's Horticultural Hall on Broad Street in January, 1882?
Sadly, we do not have anything in our archives to verify this. However, a reference librarian from the University of Delaware was able to provide conclusive proof that Oscar Wilde did give a lecture on January 17, 1882, in our newly opened Horticultural Hall.
At that time, PHS's Horticultural Hall, located on Broad Street just south of the Academy of Music, (near Broad and Spruce Streets) was routinely used as a rental facility for large gatherings. According to a January 18 news article in The Philadelphia Press, Wilde's lecture met "with what he calls a cold reception" from "the large and fashionable gathering in Horticultural Hall."
"More carriages with liveried coachmen brought their burdens to ...Horticultural Hall last evening, than the adjoining Academy of Music saw with its....grand opera."
While the news article was highly dismissive of Wilde, he filled the hall in his lecture on the English Renaissance. See attached scan of article.
For more on Oscar Wilde in Philadelphia, see the upcoming exhibit
at the Rosenbach Museum and Library, January 23 - April 26, 2015.