Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Day 7 Choir Tour: Philadelphia Freedom

Ah. The City of Brotherly Love. As we mentioned, we have been watching the John Adams mini-series when we have longer trips, so imagine the excitement of the entire group to step off the bus this morning in Old Town, Philadelphia, and see Independence Hall down the street!

This morning Dr. Anneliese Payne and Dr. Janet Clark headed back home, but had to get their flight redirected to avoid the snow which was headed to Detroit. They arrived safely this evening and they will be missed.

We broke into small groups and explored the city most of the day, only to return to the bus by 5:00 p.m. Because the historic district is relatively condensed, some smaller groups would end up at the same location, sharing whatever else they had just seen with the others. Most chose to go first to the Visitor Center, where they provided free tickets to Independence National Historic Park, where Independence Hall, Congress Hall, Old City Hall, Philosophical Hall, and more are located. The Park Rangers who were stationed at each hall provided extensive information and history on each facet of the location, and answered questions in depth and with a wonderful grasp of context as well as dates and names.
That is Tiffany glass in the mosaic behind these students
In Independence Hall, we were able to see that the size of the rooms where great debates occurred are actually very small! In addition, George Washington's chair remains original to the space, with a wonderful story about Benjamin Franklin's observations of the "sun" image engraved on the chair.

Independence Hall and Congress Hall

Way in the back, center, is Washington's chair

Behind Independence Hall
Pretending to be part of the deliberations of Congress

Chatting with a Park Ranger outside of Congress Hall
We learned that after the initial hairline crack in the bell had been repaired, it was rung again on George Washington's birthday for a celebration and the old crack reappeared and kept moving up on the bell, so it was never rung again.

Liberty Bell!

Checking out the display prior to seeing the Liberty Bell

Christ Church Burial Ground:
Many signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried here...
one of the most historic cemeteries in the country

Whoops! Tilt your head to the left and you'll see
Benjamin Franklin's tombstone, designed to his exact specifications.
Christ Church
Michael Boswell in front of Christ Church
Christ Church was incredibly interesting, and the guide was very knowledgeable explaining about all the historical figures who had attended church there: George and Martha Washington, Betsy Ross, John Adams, and many more. One group of Woods students who had come through today took the opportunity to sing after being asked by the guide. They broke into "Amazing Grace" in the church which served as a place of worship for those who founded our country. The building was flush with history and walking through felt like stepping into a time capsule. At one point, the 8-year-old on the trip (daughter of the two music faculty on the trip), along with a music student at another time in the day, both got the chance to ring the bell in the back of Christ Church. It was unassuming and didn't seem particularly special...but we found out it is 300 years old, older than the Liberty Bell and older than our country. It had been forged in England, brought to the Americas, part of the Christ Church until it was lent to another church for a period of time. Over time it was lent to various places, and ended up in the basement of a hospital and was gone for about 200 years. Just a couple of years ago, the bell was uncovered in the basement and found that Christ Church of Philadelphia was inscribed on the bell so it was returned. It still rings a beautiful tone!
Benjamin Franklin funded the cost of the steeple of Christ Church
At that time, it was the tallest building in the entire country.

Inside Christ Church Sanctuary

Christ Church bell which is 300 years old and still ringing
 Betsy Ross:
Alleyway leading to entrance of house Betsy Ross stayed in for three years
 All around Philadelphia there was literature and calendar of events related to Women's History Month. Still, there are few places and symbols which truly depict the impact that women had on the colonial period of history. Betsy Ross, though, was like the men of that time...changing with the times and adapting as needed. She was an upholsterer (unusual for women of that time), but after the Revolutionary War, less people wanted fancy upholstered items. At that time, she began working for the government/military sewing uniforms, etc. She was also widowed three times.

We can't write about Philadelphia and not mention "Rocky", right?
 There was so much to see and learn today, that it cannot possibly be all included here. More places were visited than mentioned here, but overall, it was heard over and over again "I love this place!". On the bus ride to the hotel in Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. at the end of the day, there was a quick stop for dinner.
Looking forward to tomorrow!

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