Set within the Independence National Historical Park, this stately building was designed in 1818 by Philadelphia architect William Strickland, renowned for pioneering the Greek Revival movement in America. Based on the Parthenon in Greece, this was the original home of the country’s second national bank, which was discontinued with great vitriolic fanfare in 1836 by President Andrew Jackson, who feared the institution was gaining more economic power than the still-new United States itself.
The building now houses The Portrait Gallery in the Second Bank, where the cornerstone exhibit is “People of Independence,” a collection of 185 paintings of historically significant Colonial- and Federal-era individuals – a veritable Who’s Who of the 18th century in America. Several of these portraits are by local artist Charles Wilson Peale, whose life and work are celebrated in an adjunct gallery called Peale’s Museum. Also on display are a wood-carved sculpture and death mask of George Washington.