Philadelphia is hosting yearlong celebrations in honor of Benjamin Franklins’ 300th birthday. He is the only founding father to have signed all four historical American revolutionary documents -- the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty with France, the Treaty with England and the US Constitution. He invented the lightening rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove and the “busy body.
For up-to-the-minute news, visit the website gophila.com/ben.
Franklin not only was a scientific and engineering genius, but a diplomat, citizen par excellence, world traveler, representative of Colonial colonies at the courts of London and later Paris. Pennsylvania’s Delegate to the 1776 Constitutional Convention, he and John Adams edited the Declaration of Independence.
While visiting some downtown Franklin sites, I had a rejuvenating Spa treatment at the Terme Di Aroma, a holistic day spa at 32 North Third Street, 215-829-9769. The spa is just a few blocks from the center of the historic Society Hill District, and Colonial Franklin sites.
After hours walking and touring museums, homes, Independence Hall, the Constitution Museum and other historic mansions figuring in Revolutionary and Colonial times, a time-out at Terme Di Aroma restored my body and soul. The minute I walked in, I was enchanted with a two-foot high amethyst tree sitting on the counter and the aroma of gentle lavender soothed me even before I said “Hello” to the delightful owner. Slipping into the back of the huge spa, I passed rooms with relaxing couches, chairs and counters filled with potions, fragrances, and other charming items for sale. I quickly changed into my spa robe and slippers, and my attendant led me into a eucalyptus scented room (I chose the scent; clients can pick other scents, or no scents. Quiet music -- I asked for jazz-- set the mood as my therapist began an hour-and-a-half long La Stone Therapy, price $135. Basalt stones and a gentle but firm massage left me glowing and ready for more touring.
The Terme stresses the healing art of aromatherapy, and offers a full menu of treatments, from therapeutic massages to specialized skin care, facial and body treatments. Spa packages last a day, and can include a Day of Wellness for $245, with a facial, body polish, aromatherapy, herbal foot treatment, all lasting about four hours. For more information, visit www.termediaroma.com, or call 215-829-9769.
After this respite, I began touring Benjamin Franklin sites. Ben was born on January 17, 1705, on Milk Street, Boston and ran away to Philadelphia when he was 17 years old, unhappy in his apprentice to his printer older brother. Arriving in Philadelphia as a penniless printer, he achieved the pinnacle of greatness through his diplomatic skills, his inherent genius, his hard work, leadership and his brilliant personality. When he was buried at the age of 84, in St. Peter’s graveyard on 5th and Arch Streets, he was revered in Philadelphia, American and Europe for his inventions, diplomacy, philanthropy, and humanity.
A fun way to learn about Ben Franklin’s 18th century Philadelphia history is on a walking tour with Ed Mauger, leader Philadelphia on Foot Historic Center. It’s much more fun listening to this amiable, knowledgeable guide then reading plaques.” Thriving in this Quaker city on the banks of the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, Ben Franklin was a genius, a true American original“, said John. To reach Ed Mauger, email him at Philaonfoot@cs.com, or call 800-340-9869.
Begin at 2nd and Market Street -- My walking tour began from Chestnut and 4th Street, in front of the Omni Hotel, behind Independence Hall, a block from Carpenters Hall, around the corner from historic City Tavern, and Franklin’s Court with a framework reconstruction of his last home where he lived with wife Debbie and their children. Franklin’s Court Museum and Fireman’s Hall Museum. Reading the time line, looking at some of his actual inventions -- from bifocals, to the Franklin stove, to the lightning rod, to the glass harmonium -- and his desk, visitors begin to gauge the depth of his genius and generosity. Inventor, author of the first American editorial, postmaster under the British rule, and then, first US Postmaster (his mail system was faster then than today, president of the Pennsylvania Assembly for three times, and millionaire philanthropist who left money to support public institutions he had founded.
During my walking tour, horse drawn buggies passed by the redbrick town houses. Finish the tour with history and dinner at: City Tavern, 138 S. 2nd Street, in an authentic recreation of City Tavern that stood on this site. In 1994, restaurateur Walter Staib refurbished the restaurant to the specification of the original 1773 tavern under the supervision of the National Park Service. The food is prepared from historic recipes and served on colonial style dishware by servers in period dress.