First Bank of the United States of America

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The First Bank of the

United States…

 

is one of the most important landmarks of the founding period of our country. It is the icon of the United States’ financial foundation, just as Independence Hall is the icon of the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution. This historic building is no longer open to the public due to deteriorating mechanical systems but with the 250th Birthday of our nation just around the corner, the Independence Historical Trust and Independence National Historical Park want to change that status.  By raising much needed funds, we plan to fix the mechanical systems, bring the building up to code and tell the story of the First Bank and our nation’s early economy.  We cannot do this without the public’s support.

 

Click here for updates on the project

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Photo Credit: City of Philadelphia

History of the Building

Sitting two blocks from Independence Hall in Philadelphia, it is the oldest surviving federal building (1796). Suggested by Alexander Hamilton and endorsed by President Washington, the First Bank replaced the individual states’ currencies with one national currency and was the basis for paying back the nation’s substantial revolutionary war debt. It stabilized the economy and established the nation’s credit, which laid the foundation for the United States’ economic future and enabled the USA to be seen as a strong nation in the eyes of other countries. Controversial among those championing states’ rights, its charter lapsed in 1811.

 

Philanthropist and merchant, Stephen Girard purchased the building and all supplies from the government and opened his own bank in 1811. When he died, the building was left to the city through his estate.  The city rented the space to another bank that called themselves Girard Bank. After remodeling the interior in the early 1900’s, Girard Bank moved out of the First Bank in the early 1930’s.  Still owned by the city, the building was used for a multitude of purposes until 1955 when it was purchased by the National Park Service where it acted as a temporary visitor center until 1976.

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Future Plans for the First Bank

The Independence Historical Trust and the Independence National Historical Park look forward to reopening the First Bank as a museum dedicated to telling the story of our early economy. From multiple perspectives, we will look at the components that encompassed our nation’s economy and the role the First Bank played in the individual’s life as well as making our country a world leader.

 

For more information, please contact our First Bank Committee at attn@inht.org

First Bank Social