Historic Houses of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
In 1681, King Charles II granted William Penn a Charter for present-day Pennsylvania and Delaware. In 1682, after landing at the mouth of the Delaware river, Penn and a group of the pacifist Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, met with the Lenape People and signed a treaty, establishing a long period of peaceful cooperation.
The new city of Philadelphia led the colonies in shipping and shipbuilding, becoming an agricultural and industrial leader in the 18th century. During this period, many exceptional private and public buildings were built, including Independence Hall, the site of the 2nd Continental Congress in 1775. Philadelphia was at the center of the Revolutionary Movement and served as the temporary capital of the newly independent United States from 1790 until 1800, while the permanent capital at Washington, D.C., was being built. A growing economy and population created high demand for residential and commercial structures, with little regard for saving old buildings. Even so, in 1816, Independence Hall escaped demolition when the city purchased it from the state, which planned to sell the property as building lots. The campaign was the earliest recorded historic preservation act in the United States.
Ancestral societies such as the Colonial Dames of America were early preservationists, as were families who kept possession of their ancestral homes. Many of these houses are open to the public as museums, while fragments of others have been preserved as period rooms within museums. Historic preservation continues today with the help of The Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks, the Philadelphia Historical Commission, private foundations, and its citizens.