St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
313 Pine St., 215/925-5968
HOURS: Tues.–Sat. 9 a.m.–noon
This Georgian-style building was designed by Scottish-born architect Robert Smith and opened in 1761. Built as an alternative to the overcrowded Christ Church, a far walk in the mud on rainy days for some residents, it was run jointly with Christ Church until 1832. In a stark contrast with the Quaker ideals that shun hierarchy, the church pews were for sale at St. Peter’s, so the richest members could literally buy the best seats in the house.
The towering spire was designed by William Strickland in 1842. It was built to house a gift of eight bells given to the church by the Whitechapel Foundry in London, where the Liberty Bell was made.
Among the famous members buried in the graveyard are portraitist Charles Willson Peale; chiefs of the seven Iroquois tribes who died during the smallpox epidemic in 1793; James Polk’s vice president, George Mifflin Dallas; Benjamin Chew, owner of Cliveden, the site of the 1777 Battle of Germantown; and Nicholas Biddle, president of the Second Bank of the United States.
No tours are offered, but you can look around the church and yard. Knock if the door is locked.
© Karrie Gavin from Moon Philadelphia, 1st Edition