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THE READER will find a repetition of some Facts in the following pages, arising from the articles being compiled at distant periods, and by different hands. It was thought best to republish, without attempting a condensation
In no nation does the history of its early institutions possess more interest than those of our own country, where, while associating for “the mutual good,” the germ of self-government was carefully guarded, and the embryo master-spirits fostered, who contributed finally to mould a nation's destinies. :
One of the earliest Associations in Pennsylvania, and perhaps the oldest now existing, is The Carpenters' Company of the City and County of Philadelphia, maintaining an uninterrupted organization from the year 1724, about forty years after the settlement of the colonial government by William Penn. Among the early associators were many whose names are prominent in colonial history, and whose architectural tastes are impressed on the buildings that yet remain, memorials of that early day.
James Portius, whose name is second on the list of members, designed and executed Penn's mansion, on Second Street, above Walnut; and the lively interest he felt in the association with his fellows, induced him at his decease, in 1734, to bequeath his works on architecture to the Company.
Edmund Wooley, from plans by Robert Smith, (both members,) erected the “State House,” on Chestnut between Fifth and Sixth Streets, assisted by the amateur labors of Dr. J. Kearsley.
The primary object of the Association was to “obtain instruction in the science of architecture; to assist such of its members, or the widows and children of members, as should be by accident in need of support;"' and the adoption of such a system of measurement and prices that every one concerned in building may have the value of his money, and every workman the worth of his labor.” The difference between the plain, simple buildings erected in the province and those in the mother country” was such, that it became necessary to examine the "method of measuring,” as according to the "system practised in England," the prices were “set on the general and not on the particular parts of the work."
The price of admission (thirty shillings,) led, after the lapse of a few years, to the formation of a similar association, under the title of “The Second Carpenters' Company,” but after a few years of separate existence, their efforts for a union with the first Company were successful, and they, according to their own declaration, “joined, and became members of the old Company,” in 1752.
To build a hall for the use of the Company was an object of early interest, and the minutes show, by the appointment of committees to fix upon a proper lot of ground," that it was never lost sight of. A determined effort was made in 1763, but it was not attained until 1768, when the present “lot on Chestnut Street” was purchased, at an annual ground rent of “176 Spanish milled pieces of eight," and conveyed to trustees appointed by the Company. Many schemes for its inprovement were suggested. A proposition to unite with the Library Company of Philadelphia in erecting a “building that might accommodate both,” was, ainong others, seriously entertained, but no feasible plan was matured until 1770, when, “as the funds were not sufficient,” it was agreed to open a subscription among the members of the Company, in shares of four pounds each, and when the sum subscribed shall amount to “three hundred pounds,” the Company, shall “appoint a number to begin to erect a building." Robert Smith prepared “a sketch of a building,” and the subscription