Carpenters' Hall

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Chapter One BOOK STARTChapter Three

Blueprint for a Revolution: The Spies at Carpenters' Hall by Charles and Nancy Cook

Chapter Two

The doors of wisdom are never shut.
Poor Richard's Almanack, by Benjamin Franklin
Floor Plan — Create balance and symmetry

A Greek Cross — Two stories rising to a central cupola.

Carpenters' Hall is one of America's finest examples of the balance and symmetry that characterizes Georgian Architecture.

When Daymon saw him from the library's north window, Benjamin Franklin was coming from his home, less than a block away from Carpenters' Hall, across Chestnut Street. Just up Chestnut Street was the State House. It could not be known to Franklin or anyone yet, that representatives of the colonies would meet in the State House and eventually declare the thirteen colonies of America free and independent of England. That would happen in less than seven months, in July of 1776.

At this time Benjamin Franklin was distressed, as he had been for some time. He had recently returned from England where he had met with many leaders of the British government in hopes of preventing war between the American colonies and England-the motherland. He had failed. He returned by ship to America, and throughout the long passage over the cold, rolling waves of the Atlantic he worried and pondered the fate of the American colonies. He knew peace with England was impossible. A great war was now inevitable.

The colonists no longer felt obligated to England. The problems they faced in the New World required special attention that the English government did not have the time or the desire to give America. Since there was a great deal of opportunity available in America, the colonists were ready to accept responsibility for their own government rather than see England benefit from their efforts and the risks they were taking.

In the cold December wind of 1775, Franklin hunched over and strode with his head bent away from the wind.

Carpenters' Hall is one of America's finest examples of the balance and symmetry that characterizes Georgian Architecture.

Momentarily he looked up as he was walking toward Carpenters' Hall. It was truly an impressive structure and one of his favorites. The balanced design characteristic of Georgian architecture was nicely done in this two story brick building topped by a center cupola. From the central structure the building projected in four directions, creating a balanced Greek cross plan to the building. The bricks had been set in the stylish Flemish bond with dark glazed headers, which were bricks set with an end rather than a side facing out. This produced a stronger construction, but it was also more expensive. Large windows were framed with classical surrounds and white shutters.

The building was not yet complete. A new set of front doors would be installed, and additional work on the windows would be done; but the Carpenters' Company had indeed constructed a masterpiece-a way to show their crafts and talents to others.

While Benjamin Franklin had been in England, the Carpenters' Company had made the Hall available to the delegates of the colonies meeting in Philadelphia as the First Continental Congress.

Now many of the delegates had returned home. Through the postal system that Franklin had established everyone would be kept informed of developments. In fact, it was just a few days earlier that Benjamin Franklin and four others had been named to a very important committee of the Continental Congress. This committee was named the Committee of Secret Correspondence. As the first Postmaster General of the Colonies, Benjamin Franklin's involvement in a committee for corresponding seemed obvious, but this was secret correspondence. Today, we would call this work espionage and Benjamin Franklin and the others, spies.

They hang spies.

Benjamin Franklin knew he could be in great danger if his intentions were ever discovered. This danger, however, was not what distressed Franklin. What distressed Benjamin Franklin and caused him to worry was that he had no idea where or how or to whom to turn for help. He knew the American colonies would need foreign allies, but how was he to find another country to help America win a war of independence from England? England was, after all, considered the most powerful nation on earth with a large army and a great navy.

Benjamin Franklin hoped perhaps the Netherlands would offer assistance They were great seafarers with exceptional trading interests throughout the world. Certainly America represented almost unlimited trade possibilities to the Netherlands. Still, Franklin was not sure they would or could help.

He was indeed distressed. Where would he find an ally for America? The task was formidable. He was not sure where to look. With heavy thoughts, he started up the stone steps of Carpenters' Hall and looked up to see Francis Daymon at the door, holding it open for him.

Copyright by Charles and Nancy Cook. Used by kind permission

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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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