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Carpenters’ Hall

Meeting place of the First Continental Congress

Carpenters Hall

Carpenters Hall Credit: J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia



Before the Constitution, before the Declaration of Independence, there was the First Continental Congress. In 1774, delegates from 12 colonies (Georgia abstained), gathered at Carpenters’ Hall and voted to support a trade embargo against England, one of the first unified acts of defiance against the King. That alone would justify Carpenters’ Hall’s fame, but the building itself deserves recognition all on its own.

Built by craftsmen for craftsmen, the Flemish bond brick pattern, cupola and windows are almost flawless examples of Georgian architecture. Inside, a scale model shows 18th-century methods used in the building’s construction. The delegates’ chairs and the original banner carried during the 1788 Constitutional parade are also displayed. The building is still owned by members of the Carpenters’ Company.


The cry for independence was hardly unanimous. The First Continental Congress was the first and only time that Americans across the political spectrum gathered to debate issues. Fiery patriots such as Patrick Henry addressed the 1774 meeting and never spoke nationally again. By 1776, extremely conservative and extraordinarily radical Americans became suspicious of national gatherings and refused to participate.

Insider Tip

Floor tiles were a 19th-century addition. Ironically, the supplier, a British firm, also supplied tiles for the U.S. Capitol.

Kids’ Stuff

Kids can have a treasure hunt to find how many Carpenters’ Company’s emblems are included in the building’s interior. (Answer: Five)

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