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Congress Hall (Philadelphia County Courthouse)

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Philadelphia County Courthouse
1787–1789, 1793, William Williams. S. 6th and Chestnut sts.
  • Congress Hall (Philadelphia County Courthouse) (Richard Guy Wilson)
  • (Damie Stillman)
  • (Damie Stillman)

The courthouse betrays the shift toward the lighter and more delicate forms of the late eighteenth century, reflecting the London works of the Adam brothers, particularly in the detail of the cornices, while the pedimented and projecting center derives from older models. Built to house the county courts that had outgrown the ancient building in the center of High (now Market) Street, it was turned over to the federal government in 1790 to house the United States congress. This necessitated significant changes including the construction of a gallery in the first floor representatives’ chamber. The addition of new states nearly doubled the House membership, resulting in an extension to the south in 1793. Here the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, George Washington took the oath of office for his second term in 1793, and in 1797 gave his Farewell Address.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "Congress Hall (Philadelphia County Courthouse)", [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 2

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, George E. Thomas, with Patricia Likos Ricci, Richard J. Webster, Lawrence M. Newman, Robert Janosov, and Bruce Thomas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 58-58.

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