Located in the heart of Independence National Historical Park in Old City, Philadelphia, Carpenters’ Hall is a National Historic Landmark that serves as a link to the past.
Completed in 1774, the hall 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. Before the Declaration of Independence was signed at Independence Hall, 56 delegates gathered inside Carpenters’ Hall for the First Continental Congress starting on Sept. 5, 1774, one of the first actions in the story of American independence. At that time, and for many years, the hall was the largest meeting space in Philadelphia.
“Carpenters’ Hall is ideal for student groups, as we are a free public historic site that does not require advanced tickets,” said a Carpenters’ Hall staff representative. “Students can come into the hall and learn on their own or arrive with their own tour guide to teach them about the hall. Docents are also typically available to talk to groups.”
Today, the hall welcomes more than 130,000 visitors annually from all around the world. Admission to the hall has been complimentary since 1857, when it became the first privately-owned American building to be opened as a historical monument.
Although the hall has been an important historical site for more than two centuries, it is still owned and maintained by the same continually operating active organization, The Carpenters’ Company of the City and County of Philadelphia. Founded in 1724, it is the nation’s oldest continuously operating trade guild. Original members created much of the woodwork on the State House (Independence Hall), designed Christ Church steeple, and specialized in home-building in the 19th century, reflecting the city’s growth. Carpenters’ Hall is, and has been, the official meeting place of The Carpenters’ Company of the City and County of Philadelphia for over 240 years. The Carpenters’ Company has maintained the hall as a historic site, and it remains the company’s headquarters.
Inside the Georgian building, students will see displays of a variety of carpenters’ tools and a collection of portraits and photographs of many of The Carpenters’ Company members, past and present. The hall is also filled with historic portraits and furniture — including the original Speaker’s chair used by the President of the First Continental Congress, and an exact replica that guests are invited to sit in.
“Students should take away a sense of the importance of place, and the role that a building or historic site can play within their own communities,” the staff representative said. “We also hope that students walk away from their visit with a renewed interest in American history, and a fresh understanding of the indelible importance that the First Continental Congress played in the founding of America.”
Carpenters’ Hall does not arrange guided tours but welcomes groups to reserve their own guide. Educators are encouraged to check out the educational section of Carpenters’ Hall’s website before a visit.
The visitor capacity at the hall is currently limited to 20 visitors at a time; however, groups are welcome to split up and take turns entering the hall. Face masks are required for entry at this time.
Those interested in bringing a school group or group tour to the hall should contact Hope Amons, gift shop manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.