Spotlight On: Philadelphia’s City Hall

A very well respected Philadelphia area home inspector who I KLT (Know, Like Trust!), named Vince Tecce loves buildings and architecture…which is a good thing in a home inspector! I asked Vince if he’d be willing to guest blog for me about a favorite building and he kindly came through. Vince has offered this guest blog about my single favorite building in the City of Philadelphia…City Hall. Each time I drive by…or around our City Hall…I am transported back to the streets of Paris which are brimming with architecture of this ilk and aesthetic. (Can you smell the croissants??)

So if you are as taken by Philadelphia’s City Hall as I am – here’s a fun-fact blog from my buddy Vince. He credits this romp though city hall to a talk he attended by Joseph Grace, president of Franklin Engineering. Grace logged 21 years working for the City of Philadelphia. During that time, he was the project manager on the restoration efforts on this magnificent building.

Here’s Vince:

“The restoration of the city hall tower and the famous William Penn statue was a unique 2 year project performed from 1988 to 1989.

Originally constructed between 1871 and 1901, Philadelphia’s City Hall, when built, was the largest non-secular occupied modern building at that time.

Today, it remains the biggest municipal office building in the world. It actually cost $24 million to build city hall…at the time it was built!

Some fun facts:

  • The tower clock, meant to be seen from a distance, was used by local farmers to set their clocks.
  • There are 250 sculptures at city hall performed by the famous Philadelphia artist Alexander Milne Calder.
  • The statue of William Penn at the top of the tower is an impressive 37 feet tall and weighs 27 tons. Penn was originally intended by the architect to face Southwest. But, a dispute between   Calder and the architect John McArthur, Jr., had McArthur turning Penn around to face Northeast when Calder returned from a trip abroad (!).

  • The statue of William Penn was made from bronze using the lost wax technique.
  • Most people don’t realize there are several other statues on the tower.
  • There are 4 eagles with a wind span of 20 feet.
  • 4 additional statues are approximately 30 feet in height.
  • These statues were made to be viewed from a distance, however the line of site is now blocked by the later constructed tall buildings now surrounding city hall.
  • The statues have suffered from corrosion damage, especially on the Westerly sides, which is the main direction of winds. Many of the finely cast statue parts were remade using the same lost wax technique originally used.
  • Interestingly, politics played a part in the funding of the restoration project. Somehow, funding always freed up when sections that fell off of the tower were found and publicized!

For more information on this other topics, visit Vince at