Stephen Girard Collection
The treasures of a man of good taste and good deeds
Artifacts from the domestic and business life of one of the richest men in 19th-century America is housed in Founder’s Hall, a grand Greek Revival building on the 43-acre Girard College campus. Born in France in 1750, Stephen Girard was a Philadelphia-based banker and shipping magnate.
After helping to open the China trade to the Western world, Girard brought home great porcelains from the East and supplemented them with English and French furniture, silver, textiles and paintings. These are now part of one of America’s best collections of fine and decorative arts from the early national period, 1780-1830. The archival collection includes Girard’s log books, maps, charts and business papers, all meticulously kept with receipts and other data.
When he died in 1831, Stephen Girard left the bulk of his estate to set up Girard College, a school for orphaned boys that opened in 1848. Today, Girard is a coed private boarding school (grades 1-12) for children from families with limited financial resources, headed by a single parent or guardian. Each student receives a full scholarship and free board.
Open Thursdays & Reserved tours by appointment
Some of the porcelain collection is among the first to come from China — on Girard’s own ships.
Some Kids’ Stuff
When Founder’s Hall was completed in 1847, it was the second-most expensive building in America — second only to the United States Capitol, whose dome was designed by the same architect, Thomas U. Walter.
In the neighborhood
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