The Birthday Party of the Year: Celebrating William Penn

375 has never looked so good! Independence National Historical Park and Independence Historical Trust celebrated the 375th birthday of William Penn, Philadelphia’s founder, on October 14th by revitalizing his spirit within the city’s most famous historical sites.  

Partnering with Hartmann Fine Art Conservation Services, Inc., Philadelphians and visitors alike were encouraged to swing by the Second Bank Portrait Gallery to watch a live restoration of Henry Inman’s 1832 portrait of William Penn as well as to learn more about the conservation process. Owned by the National Park Service, the painting’s canvas was in need of repair after being damaged by dripping water last year. Harmann Fine Art Conservation Services, Inc. has tasked their president, John Hartmann with leading the conservation effort for this project. Hartmann has developed both a specialized expertise in treating paintings as well as a broad background in other art conservation disciplines through his extensive work restoring projects for museums and private collections. In addition to the live restoration, a William Penn re-enactor also attended the event to talk to attendees about Penn’s Philadelphia. 

Born in 1644, Penn was a pacifist Quaker and the founder and “Absolute Proprietor” of the Province of Pennsylvania during the colonial period. An early advocate for democracy and religious freedom, Penn was ahead of the curve in supporting the formation of a union composed of the British colonies. His ideas outlined in the Pennsylvania Frame(s) of Government provided inspiration and a foundation for the United States Constitution. Anyone interested in seeing the restored Inman portrait can visit the Second National Bank’s “People of Independence” exhibit, which features 185 paintings of colonial and federal leaders, military officers, explorers and scientists. 

The conservation effort was made possible through a generous grant Independence Historical Trust received from Vanguard. The Vanguard Hometown Grants Program provides community grants to nonprofit agencies in the communities near and around where Vanguard operates. As a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, Independence Historical Trust was selected to receive this grant due to the cultural significance of their preservation efforts. For over 47 years, Independence Historical Trust has sought to support Independence National Historical Park and has served as their main philanthropic partner.

Click here to learn more about Independence Historical Trust. 


Article written by Amelia Winger on behalf of Global Philadelphia Association