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Schedule includes tours, lectures, meals, and battlefield visit

The RSVP deadline has been extended for the weekend of events in Philadelphia that will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of the Marquis de Lafayette Sept. 8-9. Reservations should be made by calling the Office of Alumni Affairs, 1-800-LAFAYETTE (outside Pa.), (610) 330-5040.

The program includes meals, tours led by Metzgar Professor of Art Robert S. Mattison, talks by College Archivist Diane Shaw, and a battlefield visit.

Rooms are available at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue for members of the Lafayette community who wish to enjoy the full slate of events.

Mattison will begin the weekend 8:45 a.m. Saturday morning (pickup at the hotel is at 8:30 a.m.) with a walking tour of Colonial Philadelphia, covering buildings in and around Independence National Historic Park, the center of 18th century Philadelphia and of American government in the early years of the Revolution. Each step of the way is filled with history and scenic cityscapes that embody American colonial, revolutionary, and Federal period history. Highlights of “America’s most historic square mile” include visits to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall (starting at 11 a.m.), Carpenter’s Hall, Congress Hall, Old City Hall, and the Benjamin Franklin home site. The morning tour will conclude with the First Bank (1795-97, the oldest surviving bank in America) and the Second Bank, now the National Portrait Museum, containing over 70 works by noted American artist Charles Willson Peale, including a portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette.

The group will gather at 12:30 p.m. for lunch at City Tavern, where George Washington and Lafayette first met. (Lunch is on the second floor, which is not handicapped-accessible; no elevator is available.) Founded in 1772, the tavern was the unofficial meeting place for the First Continental Congress and the site of the celebration of the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Shaw will lecture on “A Chilly Reception: The Marquis de Lafayette in Philadelphia, 1777” while guests enjoy an authentic 18th century meal.

The luncheon menu includes tavern breads; cream of mushroom soup; tavern country salad; Martha Washington-style Colonial turkey pot pie, with tender chunks of turkey, mushrooms, early peas, red potatoes, sherry cream sauce, and flaky pastry crust baked in a pewter casserole, with egg noodle accompaniment; and coffee, tea, and soft drinks. A vegetarian option is available if specified by the RSVP deadline.

Departure by bus for the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, established in 1805 as the nation’s first art museum, will be at 2 p.m. The building is a brilliant example of Victorian Gothic architecture designed by Frank Furness. Mattison will lead a discussion connecting the masterpieces of early American art on display to events in American history. The paintings include Charles Willson Peale’s The Artist in His Studio, a work that documents America’s first museum and Portraits of George Washington by Peale and Gilbert Stuart. Also featured will be Benjamin West’s Penn’s Treaty with the Indians as well as portraits by John Singleton Copley, the greatest of the early American portraitists, and wood sculptors by William Rush, the earliest American sculptor. The group will view major works from later American history as well, including paintings by Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer. The visit will conclude with a special viewing of the teaching studios at the academy, the nation’s first art school.

The next stop will be 3:15 p.m. at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Mattison will concentrate on the American galleries that contain some of the country’s most important portraits, landscapes, and figure paintings by 18th and 19th century masters. He will begin with Charles Peale’s astonishing Staircase Group, the first tromp l’oeil painting in America, and continue through the most comprehensive collection of works by Thomas Eakins in the world. The group also will investigate magnificent examples of Colonial and Federal furniture and silver in the collection. The bus will return guests by 5 p.m. to the Park Hyatt/Bellevue.

The tours have short walking distances. Parking for Saturday tour and luncheon participants is available at the Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellvue — $20/day to self park and $27 for valet parking.

A gala affair at The Ritz-Carlton will begin with private cocktails at 6:30 p.m. and dinner served in the elegant third floor Plaza Ballroom. The evening will be highlighted by a commentary from Shaw, “A Spectacular Welcome: The Marquis de Lafayette in Philadelphia, 1824.” It will begin with an hour of passed hors d’oeuvres, soft drinks, and cash bar. The dinner menu is field greens with poached pear, sunflower seeds, and crumbled blue cheese with herb vinaigrette; roasted chicken breast stuffed with lemon, basil, and goat cheese; melange of field mushrooms and leek compote; dark chocolate tart topped with salted pecan ice cream, homemade vanilla marshmallow, and nougat; and coffee, decaf, and tea. A vegetarian option is available if specified by the RSVP deadline.

Located in Center City, the magnificent Ritz-Carlton Hotel was designed just after the turn of the century by Stanford White of McKim, Meade and White, the most important architectural firm of its day. Originally the Girard Bank, this grand piece of architecture is based on Hadrian’s Pantheon in Rome. Like the Pantheon, it features an incredible central rotunda. White was about to come to Philadelphia with final plans for the building when he was shot to death on the roof top of the original Madison Square Garden in New York by the jealous husband of his lover. The group will hear this story and toast the Marquis and the Revolution during a fine dinner prepared especially for it.

Valet parking at The Ritz is available for $25. Guests who have toured for the day and do not have overnight accommodations are welcome to prepare for dinner at the Richel D’Ambra Spa on the third floor with complimentary use of the dressing room and showers.

Guests will drive to the home of William Rappolt ’67 and his wife Pamela, which sits on the Brandywine battlefield, for a hearty brunch starting 9 a.m. Sunday. The first major encounter between British and American troops began at what now is the foot of the Rappolts’ driveway. Private minibus tours will take guests within the neighborhood where most of the action took place. Between noon-12:30 p.m., guests will return to their vehicles and drive to Painter’s Crossing, where shuttle service to the battlefield will enable them to witness drill demonstrations, firing activities, camp tours, and battle re-enactments. The group will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the park honoring the Marquis de Lafayette at 1:30 p.m.
The historic tour (including building admission) and colonial luncheon cost $75 per person, the 250th dinner gala costs $120, and the brunch and battlefield tour cost $50. Space is limited for the tours.

The hotel’s address is Park Hyatt Philadelphia at the Bellevue, Broad & Walnut Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19102. To get the discount, call (215) 790-2827 and mention the group name, Lafayette College Alumni. Rates are: standard, $215 per night; deluxe, $265 per night; and suite, $365 per night. There is a $25 charge for each additional guest beyond single or double occupancy and rates are subject to tax. Pay on your own. Check in is at 3 p.m. and check out is at noon.

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