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Christ Church

Where Colonial America made its break with the Church of England

Christ Church

Steeped in history, Christ Church is where Colonial America made its break with the Church of England. Credit: M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia



A wonderful example of Georgian Colonial architecture, Christ Church is bordered by a tree-lined brick path, small park and a cobblestone alley, which provide the perfect setting for this historic treasure. The tower and steeple made it the tallest building in America until 1856.

Once the home of worship for prominent history-makers, including Benjamin Franklin, William Penn, Betsy Ross and George Washington, Christ Church remains an active Episcopal Church and continues to hold weekly services.

Tours are given throughout the day that dive into its 300-plus year history and the prolific role it played during the American Revolution.


Christ Church was founded in 1695. It was the first parish of the Church of England in Pennsylvania and also where the American Episcopal Church was born.

The current Christ Church building was constructed between 1727 and 1744, taking the church from a small brick and wooden structure to a grand example of Georgian architecture. The interior of the church is just as impressive as its exterior, adorned with baptismal font from the 1300s donated by a church in London where William Penn was baptized. Hanging from the ceiling is a chandelier, still in use since its installation in 1740.

Benjamin Franklin raised money for the tower and steeple, added in 1754. And by 1758, a whole other establishment, St. Peters, was built at 3rd and Pine streets since the original parish had grown so large. When National Days of Prayer were declared, President Washington and the legislative bodies attended Christ Church en masse.

Other Information

The church is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. However, note, the church is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays in January and February. The church is also closed for tours on Wednesday from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. for a service.

There is no admission fee to visit church but suggested donations are as follows: $5 for adults and $2 for children. All donations support the preservation of Christ Church.

Insider Tip

The original eight bells, which proclaimed independence from England in 1776, are still rung once a week.

Kids’ Stuff

See if you can find the pews of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Betsy Ross.

More Information

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