Carpenter’s Hall

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (PA)

Philadelphia's Carpenter's Hall: the birthplace of a revolution and of America's commitment to freedom and independence.

Carpenter’s Hall: The Birth of a Nation

Carpenter’s Hall is a modest brick building in Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park, with substantial historical significance and architectural charm. Strongly tied to the American Revolution, the Hall is often considered the birthplace of the country as we know it today.

Before the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence there was the First Continental Congress and from September to October 1774, the building played host to this Congress. It was a momentous event that opposed British rule and laid the groundwork for the fight for American independence.

Carpenters Hall
- Margaret Wallace

History of Carpenter’s Hall: A Meeting Place for Patriots

Opposing British Rule

Carpenter’s Hall has had a long history of being an assembly point for American patriots. But originally it was constructed as a headquarters for the Carpenters' Company of the City and County of Philadelphia. The Company is a guild of skilled craftsmen (one of the oldest craft guilds in the country) who continue to own and operate the Hall. Shortly after its completion it hosted a moment of great importance; the first move to oppose British rule.

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- Samantha Dunham

United by their grievances, delegates from the 12 colonies including John Adams and George Washington, sat for the First Continental Congress in 1774. Within the walls of Carpenter's Hall, the delegates passionately debated issues, drafted petitions, agreed upon a British trade embargo, and forged alliances. The delegates’ collective actions set in motion the events that would ultimately lead to the American Revolution and the quest for independence from British rule.

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- Samantha Dunham

Other Moments of Historical Significance

Alongside being renowned for its significance as the birthplace of freedom. Carpenter's Hall also significantly held Ben Franklin's Library Company of Philadelphia, the American Philosophical Society, and the First and Second Banks of the United States. But it has also performed as a hospital for troops in the Revolutionary War, a post office, and an art school over the years. Between 1802 and 1819, the federal Custom House in Philadelphia was also located here. Today, in recognition of its historical value Carpenter’s Hall is an officially recognised National Historic Landmark.

Carpenter’s Hall: A Timeless Architectural Gem

The Carpenter’s Company was established in 1724, but it was not until 1768 that the Hall’s creation was agreed upon. After carefully selecting the site, Scottish trained architect, Robert Smith, was commissioned to design the Hall. Construction commenced in January 1770 and was completed by August 1774.

Carpenters Hall 1
- Samantha Dunham

The building's exterior features red brick, white trim, and elegant Palladian windows, giving it a classic and stately appearance. Inside, the main hall boasts a two-story space with a graceful central staircase, providing an atmosphere of historical grandeur. It is a simple yet beautiful reflection of the typical Georgian architectural style of the 18th century.

Preserving History and Memory at Carpenter’s Hall

Over the years, the Carpenter’s Company has organised several restoration projects to return the Hall to its original 18th-century appearance, fortify it, and preserve its historical integrity for future generations. The restoration efforts ensured that the building retained its original charm and character, allowing visitors to step back in time and experience the spirit of the Revolutionary era.

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- Samantha Dunham

Fire at Carpenter’s Hall

The most recent and significant project, since 1980, was conducted in April 2022 with the support of countless beneficiaries including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Work addressed foundation waterproofing, roof maintenance, plumbing updates, and other fine touches. However, as the $3 million project was nearing completion it tragically fell victim to an arson attack on December 24th 2022.

After the fire, which was set deliberately in the Hall’s basement, the building remained closed for an additional 6 months. While Carpenter’s Hall sustained no structural damage in the fire, the basement was ruined. Sadly, this meant many 20th century archives and publications were also damaged. Eventually, a grand reopening was held on July 3rd 2023 ahead of its monumental 200th anniversary, next year.

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- Samantha Dunham

Visiting Carpenter’s Hall

Since its reopening, Carpenter's Hall has continued to be a cherished site for many visitors. The building is open to the public, offering guided tours that provide insight into the historical events that unfolded within its walls. Outside the American flag, the Pennsylvania flag, and The Carpenter’s Company flag sway proudly in the breeze. And inside there are informative displays and photographs. Visitors can explore the assembly room, where the delegates convened, and view exhibits that illuminate the significance of the First Continental Congress and its role in shaping America’s identity today. There is also a scale model detailing the building’s construction methods, early carpentry tools, and 8 of the Windsor chairs, which sat the delegates all those years ago.

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- Samantha Dunham

Our Thoughts…

Carpenter's Hall in Philadelphia is more than just a historic building — it embodies the courage of the delegates who gathered there to discuss the future of their young nation. And paved the way for how that nation has since been shaped. As visitors walk through its doors, they are transported back in time to better understand the visionaries who dared to dream of a society built on principles of equality and self-governance. It is a place where history and revolution converge; where collective action, free speech, and the right to assemble are celebrated as the very pillars of America’s creation.

If you're looking for other ways to immerse yourself in Philly culture, why not check out our secret escapes and lose yourself in an urban adventure?!

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- Samantha Dunham

Carpenter’s Hall Questions