History Comes to Life During Museum of the American Revolution Groundbreaking Event

Alison Vayne, for GPA -- After a century of planning, the Museum of the American Revolution is finally becoming a reality in downtown Philadelphia, only a few blocks away from Independence Hall. And to celebrate the beginning of the construction, more than 300 supporters, benefactors and honored guests gathered for the dedication of America’s Liberty Tree of the 21st century.

The museum’s main goal is to teach the public about the history of the revolution using its collection of objects, artifacts, artwork and manuscripts.

“Our goal right now is to build this museum, to create a place that will preserve and tell that history and reach the millions of heritage travelers that come to Philadelphia every year,” said Michael C. Quinn, President and CEO.

The idea of a museum commemorating the American Revolution goes back to 1907, when the Washington family put up for sale George Washington’s revolutionary office and sleeping quarters.

“We acquired it and that really launched the idea of this museum and it also launched the Valley Forge Historical Society and a whole century of collecting,” said Quinn of the historical quarters.

The Museum was originally to be located in Valley Forge but eventually the concept was moved to downtown Philadelphia.

“Our mission is public education so we concluded we should build this museum where the public is,” said Quinn.

The construction of the museum started over the summer. The Museum felt it was important to celebrate at this juncture.

“It was a groundbreaking celebration and we were really marking the milestone of actually transitioning from a vision of this museum to the concrete reality of starting to build it,” said Quinn.

During the event, Governor Corbett spoke, as did both U.S. Senators, Admiral Thomas C. Lynch and the keynote speaker, journalist and historian Cokie Roberts.

“Thanks to your support, we are well on the way toward opening the doors to a museum that is dedicated to keeping the roots of liberty alive by perpetuating the ideals of our founding fathers,” said Quinn.

The groundbreaking celebration was also the occasion to dedicate a new Liberty Tree, honoring the Museum Founding Chairman H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest.

The Liberty Tree became a powerful symbol of the American patriot cause during the revolution because the Sons of Liberty started gathering under a tree in Boston.

Soon, a Liberty Tree was dedicated in villages in every colony and became a symbol on various flags.

“We decided it was appropriate because it reflects our mission to designate a new liberty tree for the 21st century,” said Quinn. “So we did it by enriching its roots with soil gathered from revolutionary war sites across the nation.”

The tree will return to the museum’s site on the day of the opening.

“We are building this museum for present and future generations who need to be inspired and engaged so that the spirit of the American Revolution will remain strong,” said Lenfest. “Today marks a great milestone as our vision turns to reality and we look forward to opening day.”

Image courtesy of the Museum of the American Revolution.