FOUNDER'S HALL: Founder's Hall at Girard College is one of the greatest expressions of nineteenth-century Greek Revival architecture in the United States. As a civic ensemble, it ranks among the most notable in the country, and is integrally linked to the metropolitan expansion of Philadelphia and the growth of its institutions for education, social reform, and humanitarian aid.
Members of the city government held an architectural competition to award the job of designing Girard's school. Their two million-dollar construction budget ensured that the 1832 competition was the first American architectural competition to have truly national participation. The winning architect was Thomas Ustick Walter (1804-1887).
Founder's Hall took 14 years to complete and was then the second-most expensive building in America! Thomas Ustick Walter went on to design the dome of the United State Capitol in Washington, D.C. Furthermore, Founder's Hall and the unique orphans' school for which it is the centerpiece, honors its founder Stephen Girard; its endowment heralded an epoch of unparalleled philanthropy by one of America's wealthiest citizens.
The estate of Stephen Girard, who left the $2 million bequest that still funds the boarding school, spared no expense. Chester County white marble sheathes the walls and columns. The doors are carved from white pine slabs as thick as a book.
Founder Hall was posted to the National Register of Historic Places on August 4, 1969!
Founder's Hall Video
Stephen Girard Born May 20, 1750 - Died December 26, 1831
On Founder's Day - Stephen Girard's burial site is adorned with beautiful floral wreaths! The wreaths come from Girard College Alumni Chapters located throughout the USA! All Chapters - proud members of the Girard College Alumni Association.
We, the adoptive sons of Stephen Girard, honor the birth of our benefactor in remembrance and appreciation of Stephen Girard's greatness gift to us and to the world - his "Girard College" As Stephen Girard envisioned it, created it and mandated all of its operations to be! His - "Girard College" became world renowned and respected as one of the most successful and greatest education Institutions in the world! This website is a "reality display" of the education, campus environment and successful operations of the "Girard College" that Stephen Girard planned for his adopted sons to experience!
Founder’s Hall at Girard College (1833–1847) is considered one of the finest examples of American Greek-Revival architecture. School founder Stephen Girard specified in his will the dimensions and plan of the building. Nicholas Biddle (1786–1844) was chairman of the School’s building committee, banker and financier and president of the Second Bank of the United States in Philadelphia.
Girard’s will demanded an architectural competition for the school's design. Endowed with his $2-million contribution, the 1832 competition was the first American architectural competition to have truly national participation. The winning architect was Thomas Ustick Walter (1804–1887). After the Girard commission, Walter went on to design the dome of the United State Capitol in Washington, D.C. He later returned to Philadelphia and became an assistant architect on the City Hall and, in 1857, a founding member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
Founder’s Hall was the school’s original classroom building. It has three main floors, each measuring 14,000 square feet. The plan for each floor, according to Stephen Girard's specifications, consists of a 100-by-20-foot front hall, four 50 ft. square rooms with 25 ft. ceilings arranged two-by-two, and a back hall that is the same size as the front hall. The scale of the spaces was impressively large when the building first opened.