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American Philosophical Society: Library Hall
(105 South 5th Street)

Library HallAssociated with the American Philosophical Society is what we shall call the second Library Hall, located at 105 South 5th Street. Although not the first public library in the country, it was the prototype for the Library of Congress. The original Library Hall was built in 1789 and remained in this spot until 1884.

In the same wave of 1950s historic preservation that restored Independence Hall, the Library Company's original building was reproduced, according to Earle Spamer of the American Philosophical Society, "right down to the statue of Benjamin Franklin in a toga." The Library Company, after a long bout of financial difficulties, now thrives at 13th and Locust Streets. Franklin is counted as a founder by both the American Philosophical Society and the Library Company. See, for example, the photograph below of the plaque on the side of the building.

In the library and museum, are an original of William Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges and an original painting of Washington by Stuart Gilbert.

William Jackson, "in obedience to a vote of the Convention" thanked the library director for extending borrowing privileges to the delegates. Rufus King and Luther Martin were over a year late in returning their books.

According to Robert Teitelman, Library Hall is a fine example of the restoration effort made in the 1950s. It also marked the starting point of the memorial procession for George Washington in December 1799. He also points out that the "statue of Franklin was given by the wealthy Senator William Bingham in 1792." Surgeon's Hall is in the background of of the Birch painting below. A plaque now commemorates the site of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in the 1790s.

Library and Surgeons Hall, in Fifth Street
Statue of Benjamin FranklinLibrary Hall
Statue of Benjamin Franklin
Library Hall
Library Hall