Carpenters' Hall

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Architect, Carpenter: The members of the Carpenters' Company of Philadelphia were called master carpenters. They oversaw projects every step of the way, and worked as architects as well as carpenters. Eventually, however, private architects gained popularity, forcing the members of the Company to become more specialized.

Company, London: The Carpenters' Company of the City and County of Philadelphia was founded in 1724 and is the oldest existing craft guild in the United States. The Company was largely modeled after the Worshipful Company of Carpenters of London.

Congress, Delegate, Washington: Carpenters' Hall was the site of the First Continental Congress in 1774. Delegates including George Washington, Peyton Randolph, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Richard Henry Lee, and Patrick Henry met at Carpenters' Hall.

Fox: Joseph Fox was an early member of the Carpenters' Company of Philadelphia. He was the grandson of a first generation American master bricklayer. Fox came to hold the position of Master of the Carpenters' Company and held that title for many years.

Franklin, Library: Benjamin Franklin, Philadelphia's great thinker, inventor, and statesman had several connections to Carpenters' Hall. It was the home of the Library Company and American Philosophical Society, both of which Franklin founded. Also in 1775, Franklin met with John Jay, Francis Daymon, and Julien Achard De Bonvouloir to the discuss the Americans receiving support from the French crown in their fight for Independence against the British. The four met on three different nights, and the meetings were eventually successful. The French pledged their support and some say it was this support which ultimately won the war.

Harrison: The Harrisons were a family of master carpenters. The father John was responsible for the interior construction of Gloria Dei Church.

Portues: James Portues was one of the earliest members of the Carpenters' Company. He arrived in America in 1862 and from the lowly rank of indentured servant he went on to become one of the best known master carpenters of his time.

Rhoads: Samuel Rhoads was an early member of the Carpenters' Company of Philadelphia and one of the founders and first directors of the Philadelphia Contributionship. Rhoads served as a delegate at the First Continental Congress and later as mayor of Philadelphia.

Smith: Robert Smith was one of 18th century America's most successful carpenter-architects and he helped to spread the reputation of the Philadelphia handiwork up and down the eastern seaboard. Smith designed many buildings including two at Princeton University, one at Pennsylvania College (later the University of Pennsylvania), the first American insane asylum, in Williamsburg, Virginia. In Philadelphia he designed St. Peters Church and the Steeple for Christ Church.

Wooley: Edmund Wolley was one of the first members of the Carpenters' Company of Philadelphia (earlier records of members were unfortunately destroyed in a fire). Wolley was the principal builder for the State House, now known as Independence Hall.

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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