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Contact: Cinda Waldbuesser, 215-597-0060
First Bank building included in park's more than $49 million in deferred maintenance
Philadelphia –Today, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton first-person historical interpreters Steve Edenbo and Eben Kuhns joined the Independence National Historical Park, the Friends of Independence National Historical Park, and the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society at City Tavern to celebrate the
225th anniversary of the charter of the first Bank of the United States.The occasion was marked with a spirited debate between Jefferson and Hamilton about the merits of establishing a national bank.
"It was a special honor to join the National Park Service during their centennial celebration, to commemorate an important landmark institution that is part of our shared history," said Rand Scholet, president, Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society."It was especially interesting to review one of our country's pivotal founding debates that shaped the country we have today."
Following the War for Independence, the United States of America faced widespread economic problems, including a national debt of more than $52 million and states' debts of about $25 million. Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, strongly believed that the United States needed a national bank to ensure the economic success of the new country. While this proposal faced fierce opposition from many prominent figures, including Thomas Jefferson, President George Washington signed the 20 year
charter of the first Bank of the United States on February 25, 1791. The First Bank opened for business on December 12, 1791 with offices housed in Carpenters' Hall. In 1797, the bank headquarters moved to a new building at 116 S. Third Street, where the First Bank building still stands today. The National Park Service acquired the building in 1955. The First Bank is the only federal building from President Washington's presidency that exists to this day.
"The 225th anniversary of the charter of the First Bank of the United States is not only an event we should celebrate, but also an opportunity to highlight the needs of the First Bank building and others within the park," said Maiti Gallen, program director, Friends of Independence National Historical Park.
Earlier this month, the National Park Service released their deferred maintenance statistics.The $11.9 billion nationwide total was up from the $11.49 billion reported at the end of FY2014. Independence National Historical Park has a backlog of deferred maintenance projects which totals $49,103,481.
Deferred maintenance is necessary work on infrastructure such as historic buildings, roads and bridges, visitor centers, trails, and campgrounds that has been put off for more than a year. Aging facilities, increasing use of park facilities and insufficient maintenance funding contribute to the growing backlog. In the case of Independence NHP, the backlog consists of work on historic and non-historic buildings, including the First Bank, grounds, and exhibits that in some cases haven't received thorough attention since the 1976 bicentennial celebration. Independence Hall, a World Heritage Site, is in good condition, and the Benjamin Franklin Museum was rehabilitated in 2014 with partnership dollars matching federal funds.
Congressional funding for the National Park Service in 2016 includes an additional $90 million for non-transportation maintenance. Congress also passed a new highway bill which will provide a $28 million increase for transportation projects in parks this year. Funding for transportation-related maintenance and construction will continue to rise, by $8 million per year for five years, until it reaches $300 million per year in 2020.
"The funds Congress provided for 2016 will help us as we move toward the goal of restoring our highest priority structures to good condition," said Cynthia MacLeod, superintendent, Independence National Historical Park. "With Congress still considering a Centennial bill, we look forward to having additional resources to reach the goal of having more high priority assets restored to good condition."
"We are inviting the world to discover the special places in the National Park System, like Independence National Historical Park, during our centennial celebration. We need to take care of our buildings and grounds to provide the best possible visitor experience and preserve the historic structures for the next generations," MacLeod said.
A unit of the National Park Service, Independence National Historical Park was created by an Act of Congress on June 28, 1948. Accredited by the American Association of Museums, Independence NHP covers almost 54 acres in Philadelphia's Old City, and includes Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Congress Hall, Franklin Court, and other historic buildings associated with the founding of the United States. The park is open from 9:00 am daily with the exception of Christmas day. A visit to Independence National Historical Park should start at the Independence Visitor Center, located at 6th and Market Streets.Here, visitors can pick up a park brochure, park map, and the free, timed tickets required for Independence Hall. For more information visit the park's website, https://www.nps.gov/indeor follow us at twitter.com/independencenhp.