Carpenter's HallApprox. Time: 2 hours
Activity Level: Easiest

When Benjamin Franklin needed an architect to build his house, he turned to master builder Robert Smith of the Carpenters' Company. Smith not only belonged to the Carpenters' Company -- he designed their headquarters, Carpenters' Hall. Founded in Philadelphia in 1724, the Carpenters' Company was organized to share information about the art of building, determine the value of completed work, hone architectural skills, and help indigent craftsmen. Simulating the trade guilds of 18th century England, the Carpenters' Company has held regular meetings for over 275 years, making it the oldest trade guild in the country.

Architecturally, the building is in the form of a Greek cross. The pedimented doorway with Doric detail is gracious and welcoming. Three Palladian windows line the second floor under which are stone balustrades. The belt course (band separating the floors) is unusual in that it is outlined in wood instead of brick. At one time the gable over the windows contained the words "The Company Constituted 1724." In between the words "company" and "constituted" was the Carpenter's escutcheon. Underneath that read "Carpenters' Hall" in large letters.

Inside the Hall eight Windsor chairs used by members of the First Continental Congress are on display. Also displayed are early carpentry tools. Don't miss an opportunity to see a remarkable confluence of history and architecture.