Christ Church in Philadelphia was founded in 1695, and was the first Church of England parish in Pennsylvania.
The church is famous for its ties to the American Revolution, with many of the Founding Fathers including George Washington, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin attending services there.
The current church was built between 1727 and 1744, replacing a smaller wooden structure that served as the church’s first home.
In 1754, a 196 foot tall tower and steeple was added to the church, making it the tallest building in North America for the next 56 years.
After the Revolutionary War, Christ Church became the birthplace of the American Episcopal Church, and services are still held here to this day.
Architectural Details of Christ Church
Christ Church is considered one of America’s most beautiful surviving 18th-century structures, a tribute to both colonial craftsmanship and Georgian architecture.
Fluted columns, arched windows, and a symmetrical layout create the look of simple elegance inside.
The chancel (raised area in a church typically reserved for clergy and choir) features several interesting design details.
A beautiful “wineglass pulpit” stands to the left side of the chancel, the slender central support column giving the pulpit the appearance of a top-heavy wine glass.
The Palladian window behind the chancel was one of the largest Palladian windows in the original 13 British colonies.
Bishop William White, the first presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, is interred in the floor of the chancel.
Brigadier General John Forbes, who succeeded in driving the French from Fort Duquesne in the French and Indian War (giving rise to what we now know as Pittsburgh), is interred in the wall of the chancel.
John Penn, grandson of William Penn, is interred in the floor next to the wineglass pulpit.
From the vantage point of the chancel, facing the pews, you can again see the beautiful symmetry of the church and the balcony above.
To the right of the chancel and pews, you’ll find the church’s original bell on display.
Cast in 1702, the “Great Bell” was produced at the same London foundry that would, in 1752, cast what became known as the Liberty Bell.
Famous Burials at Christ Church
In addition to those already mentioned as being interred inside the church, a number of prominent citizens are buried at both Christ Church and the nearby Christ Church Burial Ground, located a few blocks away.
James Wilson, who signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, is buried outside the church.
Benjamin Franklin, who also signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, is buried at the nearby Christ Church Burial Ground.
In all, seven signers of the Declaration of Independence were laid to rest either at the church or at its nearby burial ground.
Visiting Christ Church in Philadelphia
Christ Church is open every day year-round for self-guided tours, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The church is located at the corner of North 2nd and Church Streets, and tours begin in the church bookstore/gift shop.
Admission fees for the self-guided tour are $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for children 12 and under.
The nearby Christ Church Burial Ground is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. (weather permitting), and is closed in January and February.
The burial ground is located at the corner of N 5th and Arch Streets
Admission fees for self-guided tours of the burial ground are $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for children 12 and under.
Please check the church’s OFFICIAL WEBSITE to confirm these details before planning your visit.
Independence Hall in Philadelphia is the birthplace of the United States!
The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were both signed here, and today you can take a guided tour of what is arguably the most important and historic site in the United States.
The Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia uses historic artifacts, dioramas, short films, paintings, and other exhibits to tell the story of the Revolutionary War in America.
The Betsy Ross House is one of Philadelphia’s most popular tourist attractions, said to be the site where Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag in late May, 1776.
Elfreth’s Alley in Philadelphia is the oldest continually-inhabited residential street in the United States!
Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia is America’s most-historic (and some say most-haunted) prison!
The Curtis Publishing Building was the home of The Saturday Evening Post and is where “The Dream Garden”, a massive Tiffany glass mosaic, is located.
Visiting the Rocky Statue and Steps at the Philadelphia Art Museum is your guide to paying homage to Philly’s favorite fictional son!
The Simeone Automotive Museum in Philadelphia is home to one of the world’s greatest collections of racing sports cars!
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