Carpenters' Hall

Carpenters' Hall History Resources

carphall

Quick History

Timeline of Carpenters' Hall
Frequently Asked Questions
The Story of Carpenters' Hall
Written for young learners!
How We Got Our Name
The name "Carpenters' Company," in modern terms, is a complete misnomer.
Follow their Footsteps...
A one-hour walking tour of the blocks just south of Carpenters' Hall.

Patriots

The First Continental Congress
Their meeting in Carpenters' Hall was the first step toward independence.
The Battle for Philadelphia
War burst upon Philadelphia less than three years after delegates to the First Continental Congress concluded their sessions at Carpenters' Hall.
The Unlikely Spy
The story of Chevalier Julien-Alexandre Achard de Bonvouloir, a French spy, and his secret meeting with Benjamin Franklin at Carpenters' Hall that led to the French Alliance.
Blueprint for a Revolution: The Spies at Carpenters' Hall
Online book by Charles and Nancy Cook. The story tells how Francis Daymon helped both Benjamin Franklin and the French spy, Bonvouloir, secretly meet to discuss the colonies' upcoming revolution against England.
Pennsylvania: From Colony to State
Without Pennsylvania, independence appeared impossible.
Washington's Army Marches Past the Hall
Twice the Continental army marched in review past Carpenters' Hall; In August, 1777, one month before their disastrous rout at Brandywine, and four years later en route to the victory at Yorktown.
The Quiet Revolutionary
The Revolution divided friends and families over the question of loyalty to Great Britain and the non-debatable issue with Quakers — pacifism.
"...My Zeal for Liberty"
The story of Charles Thomson, Secretary of the Continental Congress
Answering the Call to Arms
In the Revolution, the Hall became an arsenal for the War Department — and home to its first secretary, Henry Knox.

More History

All in One Room
Robert Smith, General Washington, Napoleon, General & Mrs. Custer, Stanley & Livingstone and hosts of others can be found rubbing shoulders in a single room of Carpenters' Hall.
The Federal Procession of 1788
The Federal Edifice, designed by Charles Willson Peale, was the centerpiece of this celebration of the newly-ratified Constitution.
The Yellow Fever Connection
In 1793, Spring had been exceptionally wet, the summer equally hot and dry. People complained of the unusually large number of mosquitoes...
America's First Bank Robbery
In the midst of the Yellow Fever plague, in 1798, an enormous sum was taken from the Bank of Pennsylvania's vault in Carpenters' Hall. It was obviously an inside job and prominent blacksmith Patrick Lyon was put on trial.
An 18th-century "Safety Net"
Retirement, pensions, life insurance and government assistance of any sort were unknown to 18th-century Philadelphians. Not so, however, for members of the Carpenters' Company.
Celebrations at the Hall
Celebrating the Carpenters' Company and remembering the First Continental Congress. Read about these festive affairs.
The Civil War Years
The Carpenters' Company support for the Union was unequivocal even before the firing on Fort Sumter. Here is the story of Carpenters' Hall and the Civil War.
First School for Architects
George Strickland had a unique teaching resource — the Company's superb collection of architectural books!
A 19th Century Album
Carpenters' Company members were schooled in the tradition of brick and wood frame construction. Now they became equally expert with stone, concrete, cast iron and structural steel.

The Building

The Story of Carpenters' Hall
Designed by Company member Robert Smith, built between 1770 and 1774, it's home to the Carpenters' Company. It was was the largest hall in Philadelphia.
Well-known Tenants of Carpenters' Hall
The Carpenters' Company rented space to many other institutions throughout the years, including Benjamin Franklin and banks.
The Puzzle Takes Shape
Compiling a building's history resembles a jigsaw puzzle. Pieces of the puzzle are to be found in documents of many kinds as well as in the fabric of the structure itself.
Gardens and Gardeners
For more than a century, gardens have brightened the Hall's façade, thanks to the efforts of custodians with green thumbs and, later, landscape contractors. Learn about the gardens at Carpenters' Hall.
A Treasure in Plain Sight
A story of furniture

Company Member Stories

A Walk with Robert Smith
Take a walk — in our imagination at least — in Robert Smith's Philadelphia.
Famous Early Members of the Carpenters' Company
A listing of the early who's who of the Carpenters' Company
Carpenters' Company Members and Independence National Historical Park
We pause to reflect on the pioneers who, without realizing it, laid the foundation for INHP.
Raphaelle Peale and Martha (Patty) McGlathery
Their story is one of love and heartache.
James M. Linnard
Lumber for the Builders.
Joshua Pancoast: A Murder in the Family
The story of a family of Carpenters.
Evan Peters, Pump Maker
Wells required a pump maker who fabricated, installed and repaired the mechanism for lifting water to the surface.
Thomas Procter and the City Tavern
Carpenters' Company member Thomas Procter designed City Tavern.
Colonel Procter's Mission to the Indians
In March, 1791, Procter set out on the least known adventure of his career, and probably the most dangerous.
City Tavern: A Feast of Elegance
The story of City Tavern, in Historic Philadelphia. John Adams called it "the most genteel one in America."
John Crump, Builder Extraordinaire
Architect, carpenter and hotel manager.
Steele Family
Five generations: builders of Philadelphia's first skyscraper, Connie Mack Stadium, and more.
Five Buildings and a Train
From Philadelphia's earliest days, craftsmen who formed the Carpenters' Company were already constructing their community.
Houses for Ships, Sailors, Music & Money
After a century or more of service, can a building be successfully recycled?
Location, Location
Houses in uncountable hundreds became the signature construction of Company members.
Following the Money
General Washington could afford to serve without pay ... but he had a bookkeeping nightmare!
A Family Affair
Sons by the dozen have followed in their fathers' occupational footsteps.
Thomas Nevell: "An ingenious House Carpenter"
During his 76-year life Thomas Nevell created a new roof and spire for Independence Hall and designed Mount Pleasant in Fairmount Park. He founded the city's — and probably the nation's — first architecture school.
William Williams: "A Firm Patriot — an Honest Man"
Into his 45 years, a member with the unlikely name of William Williams crammed experiences others could only admire.

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

Interested in using our pictures or information? Click here!

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.