Friday, May 06, 2011

Christ Church, Philadelphia ((And Betsy Ross too!))

I was born in Minnesota and raised in San Jose California. My boys were both born in Oregon, in towns that had their beginnings in the mid to late 1800s. To refer to something as “OLD” there has a completely different meaning than what it is to refer to something “OLD” on the East Coast! I learned that when we moved to South Carolina and visited Charleston for the first time.

The dates didn’t just start in the 1800s, they started 300 years before then! And loving history like I do, I found it fascinating to learn the details of what was founded when.

I get chills when I visit buildings that have been around since the early 1700s, such as Christ Church in Philadelphia.

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Can you read this plaque? The bells that proclaimed our Independence rang from here. They rang for freedom on July 4, 1776, but they had hung there since 1754 – 22 years!

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What I think is amazing is that this is still an active church, not just a historical site.

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I loved the light from the windows inside, and the box pews!

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This was the George Washington Family pew box..the name is on the brass plaque:

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I sat down for a minute and just pondered and thought about what life was like then…The patriots didn’t KNOW they were going to win. They could have just as easily lost? How different would life be now if that were the case?

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The light was kind of bright at the front altar. I really liked that the church was not overwhelmingly overrun with stained glass. The clear windows let in so much more light.

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Back of the church toward the organ loft. I wish someone had been playing. I would have loved to listen to that!

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As was the custom in the day, there are graves in the floor of the church, down the aisles. I love the backwards “N” in November! This parishioner died in 1734.

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The grave of John Penn. Anyone know what the “XLI” at the top means? And in the picture before this one it says “LII” at the top. I have no clue….interesting? huh?

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This is my picture from across the street…but it doesn’t show you the steeple like the picture at the beginning of the post does….What an awesome visit!

From here, it wasn’t too far to head down to Betsy Ross’s house….

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That’s it folks! It’s just a tiny little thing, stuck in between more modern buildings! I almost couldn’t get this picture, there was a huge tour bus parked in front of it!

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This tour did charge a fee, but it was worth it for me……It’s a self guided thing, you read the signs on the walls to see what is what. No picture taking was allowed. She was a remarkable woman, and I bet she would love to see what we do with fabric and machines NOW!

Next Stop? Elphreth’s Alley!

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Elphreth’s Alley is America’s OLDEST residential street! And it is still lived in today!

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The row houses are adorable, to say the least…..it was just like stepping back in time to walk down this street!

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Look at the cute red cellar doors!

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I loved the display of window boxes and blooming garden containers!

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Hard to get persepctive here too, the street is very narrow and the two rows of houses face each other….

This was in walking distance of where I was meeting up with Elsie Campbell and her son for dinner!

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It was the perfect end to a perfect day of sight seeing, and we enjoyed a terrific Mediterranean meal and talking about everything we could come up with! Her son was a real trooper for hanging out with us “old ladies” and we really had a great time.

I loved this visit to Philly, and I know I will be back. Already there have been so many posts saying things like “Where are your pics of the Rocky statue!?” “Did you see the Love Statue??” and I know there were other things I missed that I will have to catch next time….and I will!


  1. Loved your post today. I've only had the opportunity to visit old historic Philadelphia once, but was raised on the east coast of New England and have enjoyed the history here all my life. I still get the willies when I see old homes that date back to the 16 and 1700's. Glad you enjoyed your trip! ~karen

  2. According to several online Roman numeral charts XLI is 41.

  3. Oh, and LII is 52, L being 50 (the X in front of the L subtracts, and following it adds to.) Perhaps it's the number of the square?

  4. This was one of my favorite posts EVER on your blog.

    I have visited Christ Church - and I loved "REVISITING" it through your WONDERFUL PICTURES.

    I also LOVE visiting historical sites!

    sao in Midlothian, VA

  5. Isn't history wonderful, I love churches. When I was in Germany/London I would love to sit in a church and take it all in. Photos are all wonderful, thank you.

  6. Loved seeing your pictures.

  7. Am really enjoying your historical blog entries just as much as the quilty ones. I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, founded in 1652, so am always excited to visit ancient places here in the UK. Last week I was in York Minster, a magnificent Gothic building I have visited twice before, but this time I went down in the crypt - and found myself standing between the columns of the Roman building where Constantine was proclaimed Emperor in 306 - that REALLY took my breath away! Had NO IDEA it was still there! By the way, Christ Church looks VERY much like some of our central London churches, many of which date from the early 1700's, following the Great Fire of 1666.

  8. My sisters and I visit Williamsburg about every other year --- and are exposed to so much history by the reenactors --- it is a wonderful experience. We've been in Bruton Church (which is the first Christian church --- I think) and have also been in the pews for various concerts. I often think that it is a miracle that our democracy was founded --- so many obstacles.

  9. My son sang in that church! And we saw all of the same sites you have shown thus far...

    If I remember correctly those are Roman Numerals that are an "address" of the grave within the church.

    I too am enjoying this series of posts as it is bringing back many memories of a wonderful trip with my oldest son so many years ago.


  10. Anonymous11:25 AM EDT

    LII is 52 in Roman numerals
    XLI is 41 in Roman numerals

  11. I love to see where you have been and that you share the history of the place. Being in the west - our buildings are not that old - so it is always interesting to see them. Thanks Bonnie!

  12. I live across the river in South Jersey. Next time you make it up I'd love to meet up with you.

  13. Great photos Bonnie. What a nice trip you had. Love the cellar doors at Elphreth’s Alley. Sandi

  14. Thank you for all the memories of Philadelophia from my childhood visit. Now I NEED to go back as an adult and really pay attention! I loved it then, but I probably appreciate the history even more now.

  15. I was guessing roman numerals too! In good company. We lived in NJ for 10 years and being from Nebraska - we too were amazed at how "old" "old" is on the East coast!! We had LOTS of company visit us and we had to 'tour' them. My DD said once, "if I have to see the liberty bell one more time I'm going to be sick!" It was a popular touring place!! Enjoy! doni @ Oregon coast [now]

  16. I went to Phili in 1981 with a girlfriend on a Presley Tour! We were the youngest on the bus and we absolutely loved the senior citizens with us. I was only 21 but had such a good time. I was able to touch the Liberty Bell. I think I heard they have it enclosed now? Anyway, I want to go back some day. Glad you had a great time!

  17. I enjoyed this post very much Bonnie! I love history so much that I often wonder if I was born in the wrong time ... but then I know I love our modern conveniences too much ...
    Thank you for sharing hon!

  18. Anonymous7:50 PM EDT

    I am amazed at the number of people who do not know or recognize Roman numerals! I was taught them in school as a child - but then I'm LXIII - so that was in the "olden" days.

  19. Anonymous7:53 PM EDT

    Yes they are Roman numerals... learned that at school.

    If you every get back to Germany you find towns like the one my husband grew up over 900 years old and the church we got married in the same age.
    I love the street you showed, it reminds me of the town my mother lives in.
    Thank you for sharing

  20. Anonymous7:56 PM EDT

    Might the plot number... Graveside


  21. Thanks for the walk down memory lane. I grew up out side Philly in the Wayne and Valley Forge area. My dad worked for awhile in Philly and it was always a treat to go in and visit.

  22. I was in Philly today, too. (I live in South Jersey.) I went with my quilting buddies to see the Roberto Cappuci exhibit at the Art Museum. If you have any flexibilty in your schedule-do try to fit it in. It's Amazing!! He's a fashion designer, but really more of a fiber artist.


  23. Bonnie , thank you!!I have no idea here in New Zealand how beautiful these old building are, we are such a 'NEW' country.

  24. great post, I like going to Philly looks like we need to make a trip back there this summer and do that walking tour as well.
    its always a fun place to visit , tell me didn't you have philly cheese steak????

  25. I spent a semester in Philly in college and actually attended this church once - a nice congregation who knows a lot about the history of the church. Glad to see you enjoyed the sites so much.

  26. the roman numerals may refer back to a parish record....pew #, death register, baptismal number, etc.

  27. Wow, this post brought back so many memories and a few tears. I also grew up in South Jersey but am now just down the road from you outside Greensboro, NC. Elementary school kids always had at least one school day trip to Philly to see all the historical sites. I went as a kid and went with my kids on their trips. It's a shame that everyone cannot make this trip into history. It appears that the buildings are still being well cared for. So glad to see that!!! My DH worked at Pennsylvania Hospital for years which was tabbed as the first hospital in the nation. Lots of history there too. Thanks for all the great photos of where I used to live. H

  28. Bonnie,
    What a wonderful post!! I've definitely got to go! The picture of you and Elsie in front of that mosaic wall-were you in the area of Philly that is covered in mosaics? I saw a piece about it on the TV news awhile back.

    1. Bonnie, the building we are standing in front of in the picture is the Painted Bride, a contemporary art museum. My son lived across the street from the back of it on New Street for awhile, and we all had dinner at the Turkish restaurant next door to it. (Don't remember the name right now of the restaurant, but when I was in Philly last fall, I found that it was closed for non-payment of sales tax. Don't know if it reopened or not.)

      Kelly took the picture of us. It certainly does make an interesting backdrop for a photo.


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