Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Independence Hall

Latitude: 39°56'55.44"N
Longitude: 75° 9'0.63"W

This pilgrimage is going to be great. It officially started on Sunday. I targeted 3 points in and around Philadelphia, made a route and sent it to my GPS. Independence Hall, Gravers Station and the Wharton Esherick House. The second two are very obscure, but absolutely worth seeing. Navigating was a breeze though the route was quite complicated. Gorgeous weather.

First stop, Independence Hall.

This place is often called a "national shrine", so definitely a good starting point for a pilgrimage. It was in fact the Marquis de Lafayette's visit to America in 1824 that awakened architectural interest in the State House of Pennsylvania (constructed between 1729-1741). This focal point of many of the pivotal events in the birth of our nation had been in the 18th century primarily a well built utilitarian structure defined by necessity and politics. The construction of the steeple in 1828 represented the evolution of the provincial meeting hall into a national monument. I was impressed by the precision of the coursing alignment of the original brick to the steeple 80 years later. I was thinking about "National Treasure" and the masonic conspiracy. I would surmise that only the best (and most well connected) masons in the land were chosen to work on this project.

Stylistically, what we see today represents hundreds of years of continuing renovation and restoration. I would deem the result a great achievement and reflects the best intentions of both the officials, architects and contractors who collaborated in its evolution.

One feature I found to be odd is the addition of the case clock done by the Daughters of the American Revolution (1896-1898)

While intending to replicate the "original" state house design, the renovation fails to consider that the 1828 steeple was designed to be the new clock tower, clearly intending to improve upon the gable end placement of the original clocks. The problem may have caused enough of an uproar that the west end case clock was never built, though it had been planned. Unfortunately, this clock represents the only assymmetry in the entire building.

Riley, Edward M. The Story of Independence Hall. Thomas Publications, Gettysburg. 1990.

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