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Congress Hall sits right next door to Independence hall. When Philadelphia was the capital of the United States from 1790-1800 Congress occupied Congress Hall, The building has been restored to the way it looked during that period. The first floor was occupied by the House of Representatives with the upper floor occupied appropriately, by the upper house, or the Senate. In 1793, President George Washington was inaugurated here for a second term, and four years later, in a ceremony that ensured the continuation of our democracy, in the House of Representatives chamber, the reins of power were passed from George Washington to John Adams. At the close of the ceremony, John Adams waited for Washington to lead the exit, as everyone had grown accustomed to, but Washington insisted on leaving the room after the new President. Finally, and perhaps most important of all, the Bill of Rights was ratified while Congress met in these rooms.
On the first floor in the House chambers, the valances of dark green above the windows enhance the mahogany of the desks and studded leather chairs. In the south bay is an alcove where Representatives smoked, and drank sherry, port, and madeira. Note too, the small boxes filled with sand near the fireplaces. These were spitting boxes, used in an age when snuff and chewing tobacco were common. Upstairs, 28 of the 32 chairs and the Secretary's desk are authentic. Also remarkable is an 19th-century fresco of an eagle holding an olive branch signifying peace. Notice too, the plaster medallion on the ceiling — an unusual and elegant touch: it has an oval sunburst design honoring the thirteen original states with thirteen stars. The carpet is a reproduction of the original carpet made in the early 1790s by William Sprague of Philadelphia. Its designs are typical patriotic symbols with the centerpiece a chain of 13 state shields. In the corners are cornucopias echoing the wish for abundance in the new land
Directions: Located on the corner of Chestnut and 6th Streets.
The building is open year round, though hours vary by season. Visitors are admitted free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis
Constructed in 1787 - 1789 as the Philadelphia County Court House, this building served as the meeting place of the U. S. Congress from 1790 - 1800. The House of Representatives met on the main floor, while the Senate assembled upstairs. Among the historic events that took place here were the presidential inaugurations of George Washington (his second) and John Adams; the establishment of the First Bank of the United States, the Federal Mint, and the Department of the Navy; and the ratification of Jay's Treaty with England. During the 19th century, the building was used by Federal and local courts. The building, inside and out, has been restored as much as possible to the period of time when the building was the U.S. Capitol.
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