Carpenters' Hall

What You'll See in Carpenters' Hall

  • The lists of names on the walls — The two lists of names on the walls display the names of the members to-date of the Carpenters' Company. In the left-hand column of names are the master builders who constructed most of colonial Philadelphia. Since 1724, it has been an active company, and consists today of over 150 architects, engineers, and builders from the region who contribute generously to maintain the first privately-owned building to be opened as an historic monument.
  • Grand Federal Edifice — To celebrate ratification of the Constitution, one of America's most famous artists, Charles Willson Peale, conceived the idea of a parade float to symbolize the new government, which had been negotiated in secret sessions. The float depicts ten columns, one for each state which had ratified, connected and reinforced by the cupola, representing the Federal government. Peale's point was simple: without the unifying cupola, the individual columns would topple. Members of the Company built the first Edifice and were responsible for two reconstructions.
  • Fan window — This window was not installed until the early 1790s, twenty years after construction began.
  • Banners — East wall: carried by Gunning Bedford, whose portrait is featured on the south wall, at the head of the Company in the parade marking the ratification of the Constitution.
  • Banners — West wall: carried by members in the parade marking the Centennial of the birth of George Washington, a Virginia delegate to the First Congress.
  • Model of Carpenters' Hall — Constructed over two years by a model shop at the Hagley Museum near Wilmington, to illustrate18th century construction methods. Scaffolding is lashed together; a horse and derrick raise heavy sections. The roof trusses are reinforced to achieve clear span. Two bridge-like trusses strengthen the second floor. Timbers are largely fastened with mortise and tenon joints, then pegged together. The rear doorway lacks the fan window, which was installed 20 years later. Bricks are laid in "Flemish bond," a style with decorative, blackened ends (called "glazed headers") laid at right angles to the wall in order to help tie together interior courses of bricks.
  • Officers' Furniture — Dates from c.1890. Company still holds quarterly meetings in this room, for which the furniture is still used. The tile floor dates from the same period and was made by Minton, a British company which also supplied tile floor for the U.S. Capitol Building. The original pine floor was cut up and used to help support tile floor.
  • Painting of Washington (over the entrance) — The original of this portrait, by Gilbert Stuart, hangs in the Library of Congress, in Washington, D. C.
  • Painting of Matthew McGlathery — This portrait was painted by Raphael Peale, a son of Charles Willson Peale, who designed the Grand Federal Edifice. Raphael, who married McGlathery's daughter Martha (Patty), presented this portrait to his father-in-law. The Company held the mortgage on Raphael's house, near the northeast corner of 6th & Delancey Streets.
  • The Display of Chairs and Table — This display is set up to give the visitor an idea of how the room may have looked in 1774, at the time of the First continental Congress.

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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a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, founded in 1942.
Publishing electronically as ushistory.org. On the Internet since July 4, 1995.