Is Independence Hall Haunted?

Independence Hall

The birthplace of the United States may also be a resting place for a few historical spirits

Paranormal Reports at
Independence Hall

  • The apparition of Ben Franklin has been seen throughout the building
  • An unexplained musty odor has been encountered at times
  • Unexplained moving mists and shadow figures have been seen
  • The shadowy figure of Benedict Arnold has been spotted in the building

Independence Hall:
A Centerpiece of History

In the heart of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, tucked between Walnut and Chestnut Street, is perhaps one of the most recognizable buildings in US history: Independence Hall. This landmark is the birthplace of the United States and stands proudly as the centerpiece of Independence National Historic Park.

Now surrounded by tall, modern buildings in the midst of the city, Independence Hall remains frozen in time. Its historic structure is well maintained to preserve one of the oldest pieces of political history in the country.

Though Philadelphia’s sprawl now looms over it, you’d be hard pressed to find a place that casts a longer shadow through history. And some say that shadow comes to life through shadow figures still working in the first halls of Congress.

It’s possible that without Independence Hall there would be no US, and thus no Haunted US, so perhaps it’s only right that the building itself harbors a few historic spirits.

Timeline of Independence Hall's History

Swipe or use timeline points to see Independence Hall through the years


Construction on what would become Independence Hall began in 1732. But, it wouldn’t be finished for 20 more years. It started as a project for the Pennsylvania State House, but the government only paid for construction as funds became available. Work moved very slowly as a result. The main building was completed in 1748, but in 1750, work started on a bell tower. Upon the tower’s completion in 1753, the building was finally finished. Soon after, the tower got its first bell, the crack-prone Liberty Bell.


While the building served well as the Pennsylvania State House for many years, it’s best known for being the home of the Continental Congress from 1775 through the 1780s. Its most famous moment came on July 4, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed within its walls. As the first seat of the US government, Independence Hall was also host to the ratification of the Articles of Confederation in 1781. It remained the house of Congress until 1783, when the Pennsylvania Mutiny forced the government to relocate.


Independence Hall played another major role in US history in 1787, when it was the site of the Constitutional Convention. Originally planned as a revision of the Articles of Confederation, a new constitution was drafted instead. The US Constitution was created in Independence Hall’s Assembly Room, the same room where the Declaration of Independence was signed. And, while Congress did return to Philadelphia in the 1790s, Independence Hall would never again be the seat of government.


From 1802 into the mid-1820s, Independence Hall was home to Charles Willson Peale’s museum. Peale’s museum included natural history exhibits and portraits of famous Americans. During Peale’s time, Independence Hall went through many restorations, including the replacement of the two wing buildings in 1812. In 1828, a new steeple was constructed as well. But, despite these changes, the famed façade of Independence Hall remained in place.


After Peale’s museum closed, Independence Hall’s would return to historical significance a few more times. Most notably in 1865 when, after President Lincoln’s assassination, his body was held in state in Independence Hall’s Assembly Room from April 22 to April 24. Over those days, around 300,000 local mourners passed through the building to pay their respects. It later hosted a national museum for the 1876 centennial celebration. In the 1890s, the Daughters of the American Revolution extensively renovated the building.


During the 1890s renovations, the original wing buildings were reconstructed, and many changes were undone. This returned much of the 1780s glory to Independence Hall. But it wasn’t until 1948 with the creation of the Independence National Historic Park by the federal government that the structure was fully restored. It has been a popular historic museum at the center of the park ever since then. But some say spirits of the founding fathers still linger through the building where they made history.

Does Ben Franklin Haunt Independence Hall?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the most popular Independence Hall ghost stories revolves around Benjamin Franklin. One of the most famous founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin’s ghost has been seen as a vivid apparition in Independence Hall.

He’s most commonly seen examining a copy of the Declaration of Independence in the Assembly Room. But he has also been spotted lingering from room to room, reportedly trailed by a ghostly mist.

Benedict Arnold’s Apparition in Independence Hall

Another spirit said to roam through Independence Hall is notorious US traitor Benedict Arnold. Arnold’s ghost is often seen as a detailed apparition. But unlike Franklin’s, he doesn’t seem to have a favorite room. Rather, Arnold’s specter is known for wandering throughout Independence Hall.

While no one can say why Benedict Arnold haunts the building, those who have seen his spirit say he seems remorseful. So, perhaps he lingers hoping for absolution from the founding fathers.

Independence Hall’s Many Ghost Stories

Alongside reports of entities from American history, numerous ghostly encounters from uncertain sources have also been reported. Shadowy apparitions are often seen in Independence Hall, as if still going about their daily business.

Additionally, strange moving mists have also been spotted throughout the building. These mists are said to appear similar to the mists that trail Benjamin Franklin’s apparition. Odd, musty odors have also been smelled in some rooms of Independence Hall, always without any known cause.

See Ghosts Among the Tourists at Independence Hall

Independence National Historic Park doesn’t currently offer ghost tours or hunts in Independence Hall. But the building is often featured in ghost walks around Philadelphia. And, if you really want a chance to see Ben Franklin’s ghost for yourself, Independence Hall is open regularly for day tours.

So, though the birth of the United States was centuries ago, the memory of Independence Hall’s place in history is kept alive and thriving both through throngs of tourists and a few specters from the colonial past. And it seems those specters are happy to spend eternity reliving the days when they launched a nation and with it, in a way, a nation’s worth of ghost stories.