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The Philadelphia Contributionship

The Philadelphia Contributionship
The Philadelphia Contributionship

4th St. between Spruce and Walnut Sts.

Founded in 1752 by Benjamin Franklin, The Contributionship was one of the earliest insurance companies in America, and the oldest still in operation. The original building was designed by the same man who designed the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The Contributionship offered fire insurance. The recipient of the insurance would hang a fire sign (cast by Pass and Stow of Liberty Bell fame) from his building.

In 1781, the company decided that the trees in the center of the city were fire hazards, and demanded that they all be cut down. In 1782, the Pennsylvania assembly decided to follow their advice, but after the tree-lovers of the city protested, they reversed their course. A new company was formed called the Green Tree Company. For a small fee, people could keep their trees and get fire insurance, replacing the clasped-hand fire sign with a green-tree fire sign.

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