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Contact: Jane Cowley
Philadelphia: On Tuesday, January 13, 2015, National Park Service staff and the Philadelphia Fire Department responded to smoke alarms in the Second Bank of the United States, a building within Independence National Historical Park. Thanks to the prompt response from the Philadelphia Fire Department, a small fire in a mechanical unit in the basement was extinguished safely. There were no injuries and no damage to the building structure.
The building will remain closed to visitors while park staff ensures this National Historic Landmark is fully cleaned and restored. Park management anticipates the Second Bank will re-open in early May, based on a preliminary assessment.The park will open New Hall Military Museumon weekends starting January 24.
The Second Bank of the United States houses the park's exhibit of 195 portraits, many of them by 18th century artist Charles Willson Peale. Fortunately, damage to this collection was minimal. Park curators and outside conservators will work together over the coming months to clean each portrait and other museum objects housed in the Second Bank. The building will re-open to visitors while this conservation work progresses and visitors will be invited to learn about the cleaning and conservation process.
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, and other historic buildings associated with the founding of the United States. At the Independence Visitor Center, 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/inde or follow us at twitter.com/independencenhp.