In February, Temple Contemporary mounted an exhibit which detailed the night when Pennsylvania Hall, a meeting place for local abolitionist groups, was destroyed on May 17, 1838, three days after its dedication ceremony. The building was set aflame by an angry mob whose anger and hostility against the abolition movement had been swelling. The fire companies refused to fight the blaze, and the building was completely destroyed.
Along with lithographs and books from the Library Company of Philadelphia which detail the fateful event, the exhibit included John Greenleaf Whittier’s wooden walking cane, which was fashioned from the building’s ruins and presented to Whittier as a gift.
We’re grateful to Temple University for sharing these exhibit photos with us.