The First Bank of the United States, the initial central national bank for the country, will be turned into a museum, with its opening set to coincide with the country’s 250th birthday in 2026.
The National Park Service (NPS) said in a release Monday that the bank is receiving a $22.2 million investment from the Great American Outdoors Act Legacy Restoration Fund, which provides NPS funding for maintenance in national parks. The funding will be used for the building, which is located in Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, to undergo renovations ahead of the planned opening.
“Rehabilitating the First Bank will meet a long-held goal for the park,” said Independence National Historic Park acting Superintendent Amnesty Kochanowski.
Kochanowski said the NPS first acquired the bank building in 1956, when the park was established, but it has been mostly closed to the public.
“The restoration of the renowned building gives the park the opportunity to showcase aspects of the economy of the early republic and the role of the controversial national bank,” she said.
The bank was originally built between 1795 and 1797 during President George Washington’s administration, while the capital of the country was in Philadelphia. Congress chartered the bank for 20 years starting in 1791, following a proposal from Treasury Department Secretary Alexander Hamilton.
Hamilton’s goal in establishing the bank was to create financial stability for the country and allow the federal government to collect taxes and pay debts. Opponents of the bank at the time, including Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, pushed back against Hamilton’s proposal, arguing that a national bank could undermine the authority of state banks and that the Constitution did not give the federal government the power to create one.
The bank’s charter expired in 1811, and it was replaced by the Second Bank of the United States five years later.
The funding for the renovations will allow for the replacement of metal roofing that has been leaking, flashings, hatches and louvers. It will also help address moisture incursion issues, repair damage to walls, replace an elevator, update electrical and HVAC systems and add accessible restrooms, a fire suppression system and a new addition to serve as the main entrance.
The Independence Historical Trust, the philanthropic partner of the national park, has also raised $4.5 million to supplement the effort for architectural and structural documents and for designing and installing interactive exhibits.
The museum is scheduled to open in time for the 250th anniversary of the Continental Congress’s ratification of the Declaration of Independence.