Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Hall – Andrew Hamilton’s Pennsylvania State House - 1753

Hallway leading to Liberty Bell and Grand Staircase

I can remember when in the late fifties, our family Sunday rides on a rainy gloomy day would end up with a visit to some old dusty musty downtown Philly museums. And the urban renewal stuff around Independence Hall, tearing down all Victorian era buildings, was in its processes.  In any case, I can remember the family car parking across the street from Independence Hall and there still being some cast iron framed store fronts in place before they put a park across the street from that national monument.

I don’t know who owns Independence Hall, if it as the original Pennsylvania State House 1753, if it still is legally a state owned and not a nationally owned monument.

It was designed by the original “Philadelphia Lawyer” Andrew Hamilton who successfully defended Peter Zinger in the New York case that was a precursor of the concept of Freedom of the Press in America.

Hamilton was no doubt an idea man, a drawing on a napkin kind of thing, and it was a master carpenter Edmund Woolley, long before the term architect was in the lexicon, who finalized and built the structure.

Declaration Room - All White - Decor in Plebeian Chic.

In that gray period before the Federal Government took control, locked away open access to all the national monuments in Philly at the time of the Bicentennial 1976, Independence Hall went through many phases of ups and downs, interior redesigns, tear ups and many paint jobs.  My earliest memory of the interior of the old Pennsylvania State House was that everything was painted in white.  Then the Feds took over. The historians with their Ivy League  Ph.D.’s took over as well and out went the local Mom and Pop museum atmosphere. They, the PC historians, researched historic paint colors and the interior white gave ways to shades of silver gray and beige.  Oh well.

The building's ground level floor boards and underneath wooden support beams were replaced in the nineteenth century, termites, dry rot, and Georgian interior designs gave ways to various mixed Victorian motifs, lighting fixtures and now the standard perfect historic model inside the State House is a place where you need an appointment, or wait in a two hour line, to inspect. Whatever.

Doors were always open in the fifties, 9-5 seven days a week.  No appointments necessary for the natives doing the local Museum crawl.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court - Open to the Public off first floor Hallway opposite Declaration Room.


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