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Wells Fargo History Museum

Posted on Wednesday, May 13, 2015

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Explore Philadelphia’s history of banking in a building with a long history of banking.

The History

Originally constructed as the Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Company Building, the Wells Fargo Building on South Broad Street in Philadelphia is a fantastic example of Beaux-Arts style architecture.  The 405-foot-tall limestone and granite building was completed in 1928 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 in recognition of its architectural merits.

Wells Fargo History Museum

Throughout its long history, the largest tenant within the building has always been the Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Company or its banking successors.  In 1996, Fidelity was absorbed into First Union, which later merged with Wachovia in 2001 and was then subsequently acquired by Wells Fargo in 2008.

Upon acquiring the historic home of the Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Company, Wells Fargo set up the Wells Fargo History Museum in the lobby of the building.  The Museum connects the history of Wells Fargo and the gold rush with the Philadelphia Mint and influential Philadelphia banks of the era. 

What to See

There are a lot of museums in Philadelphia, but this is perhaps the one that is most off the radar.  While it may not carry the prestige or the expanse of other museums in the city, the Wells Fargo History Museum has plenty to hold your interest and all at the very reasonable cost of FREE!

Philadelphia has a very long history in finance and banking.  Philadelphia has been home to a number of influential commercial banks, some with roots older than this country.  Even more significant is the history of Federal banking in the city, both the First Bank of the United States and the Second Bank of the United States were located in Philadelphia and were among the most important financial institutions of their time.  Philadelphia was also home to the nation’s 1st Mint, an institution with far reaching influence.  

Wells Fargo History Museum

In the Wells Fargo History Museum, you can learn about the important history of the financial institutions of Philadelphia and how they relate to the history of Wells Fargo.  Inside the Museum are a number of exhibits and artifacts including an authentic Concord city-style stagecoach.

In addition to the Museum, visitors should be sure to enter the main banking hall of the Wells Fargo Building.  The enormous and ornate banking hall, enveloped in marble, has its own history lessons to impart. The grand hall has depictions of famous scenes from Philadelphia’s history including William Penn’s treaty with the Native Americans, the proclamation of The Declaration of Independence, Betsy Ross exhibiting the United States flag, and the drafting of the United States Constitution.  There are also busts of notable Philadelphians and Founding Fathers from the Revolutionary Era, including George Clymer, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, and David Rittenhouse. 

Insider Tips

Cinema buffs may also recognize this building as one of the most famous filming locations in Philadelphia. “Trading Places”, the classic 1983 comedy, is set in Philadelphia and much of the action takes place in what is now the Wells Fargo Building.  In the film, the Wells Fargo Building plays the headquarters of Duke and Duke Bank, where both Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy’s characters work at certain points in the film. 

How to Get There

Guests of The Constitutional Walking Tour will learn about the history of banking and finance in Philadelphia on the tour when they visit the First Bank of the United States and the Second Bank of the United States.  After the tour, those looking to visit the Wells Fargo History Museum can reach it within about a 20 minute walk from the National Constitution Center, where both The Constitutional Walking Tour and The Constitutional Bus Tour of Philadelphia begin and conclude.  Head south on 6th Street and walk two blocks to Walnut Street and make a right.  Continue until you reach Broad Street and the Wells Fargo History Museum will be on your right.

The Wells Fargo History Museum is also easily accessible by Septa, including the Market Frankford Line and the Broad Street Line.

If you plan on driving, street parking is limited near Broad Street, but there are a number of parking garages nearby. 

Hours

Monday – Friday: 9:00am – 5:00pm

(Note: these hours are subject to change, and you may want to contact the Wells Fargo History Museum to confirm)

Additional Information

Wells Fargo History Museum
123 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19109

215.670.6123

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