Carpenters' Hall

During Your Visit

From the Outside

When arriving at Carpenters' Hall, walking from Chestnut Street, New Hall (the Military Museum) is on the right. Built in 1790, New Hall was occupied by The Carpenters' Company when tenants made meeting in Carpenters' Hall difficult. Today it serves as the Independence National Historical Park Military Museum, with displays and information.

firemarks
Fire marks from the Contributionship, the Fire Association, and the Mutual Assurance Company.

While approaching the outside of Carpenters' Hall, notice the three flags flying by the upstairs window. They are the American flag, the Pennsylvania flag, and The Carpenters' Company flag. Also displayed on the outside of the building are fire marks of the Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire, the Mutual Assurance Company, and the Fire Association. The design of the building is also interesting to note. It is a symmetrical, two-story, cross-shaped Georgian building with four pediments, patterned off a design submitted by Carpenters' Company member Robert Smith in 1768. The lot for the Hall was purchased the same year, and construction began in 1770. The bricks in the building are laid in "Flemish bond," set with decorative blackened ends which are laid at right angles in order to help tie together interior courses of brick, strengthening and thickening the walls.

Inside the Hall

Entering Carpenters' Hall, there is a front hallway, with displays of a variety of carpenters' tools and a collection of portraits and photographs of many of The Carpenters' Company members, past and present.

In the main room, there are displays featuring information on most of the building's history. To the immediate left and right are two plaques, listing the names of The Carpenters' Company members, dating back to the earliest records. These lists are periodically updated. Above the main doorway is a replica of a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington, one of the 56 members of the First Continental Congress.

Directly to the left is a collection of Windsor chairs and a table, depicting what the room may have looked like during the First Continental Congress in 1774. At the time, however, a hallway divided the room, so the 56 delegates met only in the east half. The portrait above the chairs is of Peyton Randolph, President of the First Continental Congress. Continuing further, there is a banner hung over the mantle on the east wall, which was carried by The Carpenters' Company in a parade in 1788 when the Constitution was ratified. Beside the east banner are the twelve state flags, representing each colony that sent delegates to the Congress (Georgia was not present).

Heading toward the west side of the Hall, there is a large desk. This desk is used today by the officers of The Carpenters' Company during their quarterly meetings. The portrait on the south wall is of Gunning Bedford, an early Carpenters' Company member and officer. The banner featured on the west wall was carried by The Carpenters' Company in a parade in 1832, this time celebrating the 100th anniversary of George Washington's birth. To the right of the banner, on the north wall, is a portrait of early Carpenters' Company member, Matthew McGlathery.

In the center of the room is an extremely accurate model created by the Hagley Museum in Delaware, used to show construction methods of the 18th century. At the front of the model of Carpenters' Hall stands Robert Smith, Master Builder and architect. The model was funded by an NEH grant and Carpenters' Company member donations.

Other Sites Nearby

Playing an important role in the Second Continental Congress was local delegate, Benjamin Franklin. His home was located just blocks from the State House, and its proximity to Carpenters' Hall made Franklin a frequent visitor, especially while his organizations were renting space from The Carpenters' Company. Even Franklin's grave is located within easy walking distance of Carpenters' Hall, in the Christ Church graveyard on Arch Street.

Also located on Arch Street is the Betsy Ross House, a site where the seamstress may have resided at one time. Betsy Ross, born Elizabeth Griscom, is said to have sewn the first American flag. Her grandfather and father, Tobias and Samuel Griscom, were both members of The Carpenters' Company.

Closer to Carpenters' Hall are the First and Second Banks of the United States, both tenants of The Carpenters' Company respectively, prior to the construction of their final buildings. Today the Second Bank, on Chestnut Street, is open to the public as a portrait gallery.

Carpenters' Hall, 320 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
Open free to the public daily, except Mondays (and Tuesdays in Jan. and Feb.), from 10am-4pm

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Copyright 1999-2013 by the Independence Hall Association,
a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, founded in 1942.
Publishing electronically as ushistory.org. On the Internet since July 4, 1995.