Closed to the public for more than 40 years, the First Bank of United States sits empty on 3rd Street in Old City Philadelphia.
Very few people can get inside the massive building today, but the Nation’s First Bank is said to be one the most haunted places in Philadelphia. Who, or what, is haunting this historic bank?
According to legend, the First Bank of the United States is teeming with spirits. However, it’s been closed to the public for more than 40 years.
Local legends claim deep inside the empty halls, Alexander Hamilton’s ghost paces the hallways. But who is witnessing this apparition? That’s unclear.
If you ask around, some will even tell you the building is so haunted that a former owner had the building blessed by a priest. However, there’s no hard evidence to confirm this actually happened.
The only thing we’re able to verify about this property is that there’s definitely paranormal phenomena going on.
Visitors who stand close to the bank or take pictures, often notice their cell phone and camera batteries drain quickly. Is it a coincidence, or a case of supernatural activity?
America’s victory celebration after the War for Independence didn’t last long. The reality of being on their own set in and the Founding Fathers faced multiple dilemmas in their brand new country.
One of their biggest obstacles was something most of us can relate to, money problems.
At this point, the states were in major debt. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton came up with the idea to consolidate the state’s debt into a national debt to be handled by a federal bank. It was his hope this would get the economy back up and running.
But even a few years after the Constitution was written, the Founding Fathers couldn’t agree on exactly how the document should be interpreted.
Hamilton faced strong opposition from people like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who believed the government didn’t have the right to create a bank.
They were worried a national bank would give the rich unnecessary power because they would be financially backing the young country.
Despite the controversy, Hamilton got enough people to sign off on his idea and created the First Bank of United States building that stands today. But, if you think our government can’t agree on much now, keep in mind, it wasn’t much different than when the country first started.
While most of the Founding Fathers were federalists, the new Democratic-Republican party quickly grew, and the two parties clashed. In 1811 Congress voted to abandon the bank, and its charter.
Alexander Hamilton’s story is much more scandalous than the version you’d find in elementary school textbooks. The face on the $10 bill managed to get himself into quite a bit of trouble.
At one point, he cheated on his wife with a young married damsel in distress. That woman was Maria Reynolds, and her husband was essentially a scam artist. When her husband found out about the affair, he blackmailed Hamilton in order to keep quiet.
Eventually, Hamilton had to come clean. He opted to do today’s equivalent of a tell-all sit down with Oprah. He published a detailed pamphlet about the affair.
By 1804, Hamilton had pissed off then-Vice President Aaron Burr. Their heated relationship escalated when Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel. Even though he was a husband and a father with quite a few outstanding debts, Hamilton agreed.
It didn’t end well. Hamilton was shot in the gut and ended up dying the next day in New York. He did, however, get the chance to say goodbye to his wife Elizabeth and their children.
Some people believe if Hamilton is haunting the First Bank of the United States, it’s because he’s still wrought with guilt. When he died, he left his wife Eliza in a horrible financial state. She ended up in poverty, raising the kids on her own.
Alexander Hamilton isn’t the only man whose legacy is tied around the First Bank of the United States. Stephen Girard, the richest man in early America, invested most of the money to get the First Bank open.
When the government shut it down 20 years later, Girard chose to buy the building and open up his own bank. The decision was a wise one; he went on to get even richer. Forbes Magazine estimated he was worth $105 billion at one point.
If he hadn’t become a billionaire, the U.S. might look a lot different today. Girard loaned some of his money to the federal government when they desperately needed it during the War of 1812.
Then one day, Girard’s luck changed. A horse and wagon hit him when he was crossing the street a few blocks away from the First Bank.
One of the wagon wheels tore up the left side of his face. He got up on his own and went back to work at the bank but never fully recovered. He died in 1831 and is buried at Sixth and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia.
The future of this historic building is uncertain. The aging building is closed to the public and needs maintenance. It’s currently under the ownership of the National Parks Service but doesn’t seem to be getting much use.
A group of local historians hopes to eventually restore the building into a museum that focuses on Alexander Hamilton’s legacy. If his ghost really is in there, a renovation in his honor may even stir up more paranormal activity.
This building is privately owned and closed to the public. Visitors are still able to stand outside and take pictures.
If you happen to capture a strange apparition when photographing the bank, make sure to share it with us on the Ghost City Tours Facebook page.