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Pennsylvania Hospital

The nation’s first hospital was co-founded by Benjamin Franklin

Pennsylvania Hospital

Pennsylvania Hospital Credit: K. Ciappa for GPTMC


The Experience

You can easily envision an early-American operation without modern painkillers while visiting the nation’s first surgical amphitheatre. Tours focus on surgical artifacts and the nation’s first medical library as well as early-American medical procedures. Masterful paintings by the likes of Benjamin West and a colonial garden make the guided and self-guided tours even more striking.

Visitors start at West’s epic painting of Christ Healing the Sick in the Temple and proceed to the first floor (Great Court) of the preserved Pine Building. It features intricate Portuguese floor tiles, an apothecary and a winding three-story staircase that leads to the 13,000-volume library featuring a preserved seven-pound tumor and surgical instruments. The oldest existing surgical amphitheatre in the U.S. (constructed in 1804) is on the top floor, where it had access to the best natural light.


Founded in 1751 by Dr. Thomas Bond and Benjamin Franklin, Pennsylvania Hospital became America’s first and most important hospital. Famed doctor Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, taught and practiced at the facility. Soldiers of every American war, starting with the Revolutionary, have been treated at the hospital that was also a pioneer in psychiatric care.

Other Information

Open Monday – Friday
Brochures for self-guided tour available. Call ahead for guided tours.

Insider Tip

The second-story medical library is open by appointment only.
Please contact archivist Stacey Peeples at (215) 829-5434.

Kids’ Stuff

There’s some interesting material if youngsters are primed for very sensitive medical material.

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