Carpenters' Hall is the official birthplace of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a key meeting place during the Revolutionary War. It is located in Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia.
Completed in 1775, the two-story brick meeting hall was built for Carpenters' Company of the City and County of Philadelphia and served as a guildhall for carpenters to meet and discuss their business. This building is still owned by the Carpenters' Company. The First Continental Congress met here in 1774 and it was the location of the Pennsylvania Provincial Conference in June 1776. Their proceedings officially declared the Province of Pennsylvania's independence from the British Empire and established the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (essentially the state of Pennsylvania). This was also the site where major decisions were enacted to permit the United States Declaration of Independence to proceed in 1776. .
The site was designated a National Historic Landmark on April 15, 1970. In 1982, the state government designated this site as the birthplace of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The Carpenters Company was founded in 1724 and began meeting in rented tavern rooms since they did not have a dedicated building. Carpenters Company members finally selected a new building site in 1768 on Chestnut Street, when land for the site was purchased. Robert Smith submitted the plans for the design in the Georgian Style while drawing on Italian influences. Construction was completed in August 1774, but the first meeting was held here in 1771. In 1777, the British Army captured Philadelphia and the meetings stopped until the British Army left the city.
The First Continental Congress of the United Colonies of North America met here from September 5 to October 26, 1774, as Independence Hall was being used by the Provincial Assembly of Pennsylvania. It was here that Congress resolved to ban further imports of slaves and to discontinue the slave trade within the colonies, a step toward phasing out slavery in British North America. The building served as a hospital for both British and American troops in the Revolutionary War. After the war, other institutions in Philadelphia have held meetings in Carpenters' Hall such as the First and Second Banks of the United States. The federal Custom House in Philadelphia was located at Carpenter's Hall between 1802 and 1819.
Numerous dignitaries have visited Carpenters' Hall, including United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, President Václav Havel of the Czech Republic, President Guntis Ulmanis of Latvia, and U.S. President George W. Bush.
Today, Carpenters' Hall is free to the public and visited by more than 150,000 tourists every year. The site still serves the purpose it was built for: a meeting place for the Carpenters' Company and union meetings.
Information sourced from Wikipedia. Cover image by Pbjamesphoto and sourced from Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).