Preserving the Birthplace of Democracy

There is no Fourth of July without Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia. Known as the birthplace of American democracy, this is where the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and where, 11 years later, representatives from a dozen states laid the framework for the U.S. Constitution. Today, SCA intern Henry Faulkner is ensuring the park’s historic assets will last well into the future, and we highlight his work in the current issue of The GreenWay, from which we drew this excerpt:

In many parks, the front lines consist of experts in forestry, geology, wildlife, and similar fields. In others, the top spots belong to architects, archaeologists, and archivists. The National Park Service manages more than 140 historical parks and historic sites, and keeping them in era-accurate shape is an ongoing endeavor. 

Last fall, Henry Faulkner put his University of Idaho studies on hold for a year to serve with SCA’s historic preservation program at Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, an internship offered in collaboration with AmeriCorps. After training alongside a range of professional contractors, Henry has restored scores of windows, doors, cornices, steps, and other features to ensure their character and integrity.

“It’s all very specialized,” he states. “Even the sand we use in our mortar has to match what’s already there” to comply with exacting national standards.

Developing trade skills is just one part of Henry’s current professional pursuits. “Being with NPS was key. I’ve wanted to work for them for a long time,” he notes. “But being at an historic site like this is also important for me, because my work will enable my kids one day, and the next generation, to see these places and learn important cultural lessons. That was one of my main incentives for wanting to come here specifically.”

In addition to the Liberty Bell, the park includes Independence Hall, Declaration House, and the Second Bank of the United States. Henry is currently involved in making significant structural refurbishments to the latter site, a Greek Revival edifice that is home to an extensive portrait gallery.

From there, he’ll head outside to join the park’s masonry team in eliminating “trippers” – uneven bricks lurking in high traffic areas. “The Fourth of July is coming up,” Henry notes. “We need to be ready!”