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New Hall Military Museum

A history of America’s early aversion to, but respect for, military entanglements

The exterior of the New Hall Military Museum in Philadelphia

The New Hall Military Museum welcomes visitors into a recreation of the original home of the Secretary of the Army, complete with exhibits related to both the U.S. Army and Navy. Credit: J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia



The recreation of the original home of the Secretary of the Army is curiously small, given the significance of the American Revolution. But early Americans were wary of the military, since their history in colonial times with soldiers and sailors was unpleasant. The artifacts and displays here cleave to that theme. They show that early naval and military build ups were only reactions to attacks, not offensive actions.

Actually, the Navy here has more exhibit space than the Army, since it was at sea that American commerce was more threatened in the country’s early years. The Marines also get their due here in a first-floor exhibit called “Marines in the Revolution.”


New Hall was an early government building constructed by the Carpenters Company in 1791. Secretary of War Henry Knox moved his headquarters there, but his department was so small, he shared the building with the Carpenters Company, which held its guild meetings there. The building was demolished and rebuilt to its original specifications in the 1950s and 1960s as part of the Independence National Historical Park renovations.

Other Information

Call for hours.

Insider Tip

Post-Revolutionary America was hardly militaristic. An exhibit shows that at one point after the war, there were only 87 soldiers in the Army.

Some Kids’ Stuff

Each day, park rangers do a program called “A Soldier’s Life,” explaining the military to youngsters.

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