Don Fennimore, Winterthur Museum
Tuesday, March 10, 2015Mini-exhibit: 7:15pmLecture: 8:00pmGould Theatre, Palace of the Legion of Honor
Legion of Honor
When William Penn founded Philadelphia, his “green country town,” in 1682 he could not have foreseen what an extraordinary success it would soon become. By 1750, Philadelphia was one of the most populated, wealthy and commercially active cities in the British Empire, reputedly second only to London in population.
The city’s success was built on trade, fostered by its deep-water harbor that allowed easy trans-Atlantic shipping to England and the Caribbean, as well as the westward-leading land routes to the burgeoning frontier. The merchants who engaged in Philadelphia’s trade and the politicians who oversaw the city’s development prospered greatly. They spent much of their wealth on grand public buildings such as Christ Church (built 1727–1744) and the State House (now known as Independence Hall, built 1732–1753), as well as numerous, impressive private houses both in and surrounding the city.
Philadelphia’s wealth attracted many talented artisans who designed and erected its public and private buildings. They also created much of the furniture and related amenities for these buildings. March’s speaker will focus on two of these men. Peter Stretch (1670–1746) made many of the clocks used by Philadelphians to regulate their lives. Samuel Harding (died 1758) was a carver who stylishly embellished a number of prominent buildings in the city as well as the furniture that stood in them.