The tours are a fun way to spend a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. Our wonderful guides are eager to share their knowledge on the subject matter, and walkers are a friendly, sociable group. We all have in common a love for our city, Philadelphia, and a desire to learn more about it.
Two of our recent outings focused on the Sacred Sites in the Historical District. Given the boundaries lines of Philadelphia were more limited in those early days, and how William Penn created the city with the idea of religious freedom, I found it rather poetic that there was a church of a different faith on nearly every street corner.
We visited ten sites on our first stroll; on our second, eight. Our itinerary focused on both the historical background, and architectural design of the building. I thought I'd share a few of our stops with all of you.
Founded in 1695, and also known as "Historic Christ Church," many of our country's prominent names worshiped here (George Washington, Betsy Ross, Benjamin Franklin to name a few). The church, and its burial ground, are frequent stops of tourists to Philadelphia.
Old St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church
The second Catholic Church, Old St. Mary's was built in 1763 after Old St. Joseph's (built in 1733 and also on our tour). Commodore John Barry, father of the American Navy, is one of several historical figures buried in St. Mary's Cemetery which is adjacent to the church.
St. Peter's Episcopal Church
St. Peter's Church was founded in 1758 by members of Christ Church who had settled in the Society Hill area. William White, Rector of both churches, was also Chaplain to Congress during the American Revolution. St. Peter's, like Christ Church and Old St. Mary's, has a cemetery with notable citizens buried there, including seven Native American chiefs.
Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
Founded in 1787, Mother Bethel is one of the first African American churches in the United States. The church also serves as a museum which houses many artifacts from the era including the tomb of its founder, Rev. Richard Allen. Along with his religious duties as pastor, Rev. Allen was a political activist involved in the abolitionist movement.
Old Pine Presbyterian Church
Founded in 1768. During the Revolutionary War, British troops overtook the church, using it as a hospital and stable for their horses. The pews were destroyed for fire wood. Although the inside has been redone, the church stands on its original structure with its primary brick walls.
Congregation Mikveh Israel
Founded in 1740, Congregation Mikveh Israel is the oldest continuous synagogue in the United States. Mikveh Israel had several notable members including Haym Salomon who helped finance the American Revolutionary War.
The Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia is a nonprofit organization whose goal is safeguarding historic properties through education and activism. To find out more about their mission, events, and activities, check out Preservation Alliance's website, http://www.preservationalliance.com/
Have a great week, Everyone!
(photos c/o facebook.com/elfrethsalleymuseum,