Architectural Pattern Books

At the time of the State House's construction, architectural pattern books gained greater popularity in the colonies. These books provided builders and craftsmen with plans and elevation drawings that they could adapt to their own needs. As a master carpenter and member of The Carpenters' Company of the City and County of Philadelphia, Edmund Woolley owned and had access to architectural pattern books while overseeing the construction of Independence Hall. Many of the architectural elements in the interior of Independence Hall's Central Hall and Tower Stair Hall visually relate to those published in pattern books, particularly the pattern books of James Gibbs.

Illustration comparing two images of pattern book doorways with a photo of the Assembly Room doorway in Independence Hall.
Plate 106 (left and center images) of James Gibbs' Book of Architecture (1728) shows different design options for above a doorway.  Look carefully and you will see a combination of these elements above the door of the Assembly Room in Independence Hall (right image).

NPS photo

Illustration comparing Venetian window drawing in pattern book with photo of Venetian window in Independence Hall.
A comparison of Plate 68 (left) of James Gibbs' Book of Architecture (1728) with a photo of the Venetian window in Independence Hall (right) shows a striking similarity.  Both images show a Venetian window flanked by paneled frames and seated on a paneled dado.  The Pennsylvania Assembly owned the second edition of Gibbs' book and it would have been readily accessible to those involved in the State House's construction.

NPS photo

Illustration showing two tabernacle frame designs, an illustration from a pattern book and a photo of the tabernacle frame inside Independence Hall.
Edmund Woolley owned a copy of William Halfpenny's Practical Architecture (1724).  Plate 44 (left) may have served as an inspiration for the Central Hall tabernacle frames flanking the Assembly Room doorway (right).  Both images show a masked keystone-arched interior frame surrounded by a triangular pediment.  Woolley chose to use a closed pediment rather than the open pediment depicted in the plate.

Left:  William Halfpenny's Practical Architecture (2nd ed.:  London, 1724), Courtesy of the Library Company of Philadelphia (
Right:  NPS photo

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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