I’ve always been drawn to the architecture of Independence Hall, site of so much U. S. history—that familiar old, red-brick-white-trim, Georgian-style façade, complete with iconic bell tower, arched windows, embedded clock, and white steeple.
The familiarity is enhanced by the fact that dozens of public buildings mimic the look of Independence Hall. Two of these are the Village Hall in Freeport, Long Island (where I grew up), and Baker Library at Dartmouth (where I went to college). For some reason, both were built in 1928.
Structures resembling Independence Hall include: the Independence Mall shopping plaza in Wilmington, Delaware (1964); South San Francisco City Hall (1920) and Knotts Berry Farm (1966) in California; the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan (1929); the Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World in Florida (1971); LaGuardia Hall Library at Brooklyn College (1936); and most recently, the Founding Fathers Museum in Rapid City, South Dakota (2014). Though not a direct copy, the Archer Street School in Freeport (built in 1910), directly across the street from my boyhood home, has many of the same architectural features, which are especially common in the Northeast.
Early Historical Highlights
- Built 1732-1753. Much of the original construction has been replaced and restored over the years
- The tower was the original site of the Liberty Bell, from early years through the 1850s. The Bell, with its iconic crack, was on display on the ground floor of Independence Hall from the 1850s till 1976, when it was moved to its own site across the street.
- Independence Hall served as State House for Colony of Pennsylvania / 1732-1774
- 1st Continental Congress met at nearby Carpenters’ Hall / 1774
- 2nd Continental Congress met at Independence Hall / May 1775 to December 1776, from March to September 1777, and from July 1778 to March 1781
- Declaration of Independence debated and signed at Independence Hall / 1776
- Congress met under Articles of Confederation at Independence Hall / 1781-83
- U. S. Constitutional Convention met at Independence Hall / May to September 1787
- Independence Hall served as State House for Commonwealth of Pennsylvania / 1777-1799
- Independence Hall sold by Commonwealth to City of Philadelphia / 1816
- Abraham Lincoln’s body lay in state at Independence Hall / 1865
- Interior restored to its original appearance & Independence National Historical Park established by Congress, including Independence Hall, Carpenters’ Hall, Benjamin Franklin’s home, the house where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and City Tavern, site of much Revolutionary War activity / 1948