Visit Carpenters’ Hall on Your Next Day Trip to Philadelphia

This Old City gem reopens August 18 with new visitor experiences

A stone’s throw away from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell,
Carpenters’ Hall was built by The Carpenters’ Company of the City and County of Philadelphia, the oldest
craft guild in America, in 1774, and it has operated there ever since. Founded in 1724 and currently
consisting of 180 prominent architects, building contractors, and structural engineers, The Carpenters’
Company preserves the history and traditions of Carpenters’ Hall and provides education and support
for men and women entering the industry. 18th-century members helped shape major structures in
Philadelphia, including Carpenters’ Hall, Christ Church steeple, and the Pennsylvania State House
(Independence Hall).

Carpenters’ Hall was a key meeting place in the early history of the United States and was once home to
Benjamin Franklin’s Library Company of Philadelphia, the American Philosophical Society, and the First
and Second Banks of the United States. It is most known for being the site of the First Continental
Congress, which met from September 5 to October 26, 1774. During this time, 56 delegates from all
colonies, excluding Georgia, drafted a Declaration of Colonial Rights— emphasizing the colonists’ rights
to life, liberty, and property — to send to King George III. The meeting, which led to the Second
Continental Congress and the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, was one of the most
important steps in achieving colonial independence from Great Britain.

“The First Continental Congress created a collective identity and sense of unity that drove the colonies
to work together to resolve their issues with the British government,” said Michael Norris, Executive
Director of The Carpenters’ Company. “Our country is in a period of disunity now, and it would serve us
if we could revive that sense of unification and shared desire to address our challenges together.”
Among the many artifacts housed in Carpenters’ Hall are two original Windsor chairs, including one used
by the president of the First Continental Congress, Peyton Randolph. Before the British captured
Philadelphia in 1777, it is said that members moved the chairs to their homes for safekeeping and
branded them with the words “Carpenters’ Co.” under the seat. Other artifacts found inside Carpenters’
Hall include gilded frame membership boards, a model of Carpenters’ Hall, paintings of George
Washington and early Company member Matthew McGlathery, and officers’ furniture from 1890.
While the original stories of Carpenters’ Hall date back to the beginning of our nation’s history, the
building is still a vital and functioning organization located in the heart of Independence National
Historical Park. A short walk from other popular historical sites, Carpenters’ Hall has had complimentary
admission since 1857, when it became the first privately owned American building to be opened as a
museum and historic monument.

To mark its reopening on August 18, Carpenters’ Hall is offering an exclusive gift shop promotion — each
purchase over $40 includes a vintage 24×28 black and white print of Carpenters’ Hall — and will feature
two new visitor experiences:

● Carpenters’ Hall will be a local site for the My Wish for U.S. initiative, coordinated by the
Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Visitors are invited to use their mobile
device or a device provided on-site to share a vision, hope, or wish for the future of the United
States of America as we approach our country’s 250th birthday.

● Carpenters’ Hall will also feature a temporary exhibition of a sketch by renowned artist Allyn Cox
(1896-1982) for the mural of the First Continental Congress that he created for the U.S. Capitol.
“We think this is not only a great way to channel the energy generated by recent mass protests into
positive visions for our future, but it also resonates with the work of the First Continental Congress,
whose delegates were also fighting to improve their government,” said Norris. “During the shutdown
our board approved a new strategic framework for the Company that includes an updated vision and
mission to use our history to inspire people to be better citizens today. Having these two new
experiences on site as we reopen perfectly embodies that vision.”

Future Carpenters’ Hall programming will include a combination of virtual and on-site events. Confirmed
events include:
● Commemoration of the Invocation at the First Continental Congress, in partnership with Christ
Church and St. Peter’s Church, Sept. 7, 2020
● Book talk with Alexandra Kirtley, Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Philadelphia
Museum of Art, Oct. 7, 2020
● Public reading of the Declaration of Colonial Rights, Oct. 26, 2020
● Places for the People: WPA Travel Poster Exhibition (fact sheet found HERE),
Nov. 6 – Dec. 20, 2020
● The inaugural David McCullough Prize for Excellence in American Public History, presented to
Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Nov. 14, 2020
Carpenters’ Hall is located at 320 Chestnut St. in the heart of Philadelphia’s historic district. It is free and
open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information go to

About The Carpenters’ Company
The Carpenters’ Company of the City and Country of Philadelphia was established in 1724 and will soon celebrate
its 300th anniversary. Today approximately 180 men and women, all of them prominent architects, building
contractors, and structural engineers, carry on the traditions of the Company, at the center of the continuing
evolution of the built environment of Philadelphia. The Company’s mission includes preserving and maintaining
Carpenters’ Hall where it seeks to interpret the many significant events that occurred in and around the Hall for
over 130,000 visitors annually; providing a forum for professional association; and encouraging and supporting
education for those entering the construction industry. For more information, visit

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