A non-profit looking to revitalize the First Bank of the United States and convert it into a museum has received a $100,000 contribution. It came in the form of Proton (XPR), a blockchain cryptocurrency token.
Congress chartered the First Bank in 1791. Located on 3rd Street within Philadelphia’s Independence National Historical Park, the corporation was dissolved when its charter expired in 1811.
However, the building constructed in 1796 remains. Now, the Independence Historical Trust is hoping to give the First Bank renewed purpose.
The Independence Historical Trust is a nonprofit dating back nearly 50 years. As official philanthropic partner of the Independence National Historical Park, its original mission was to prepare for the nation’s bicentennial.
These days, the Trust’s mission is to raise money for projects supporting educational services within the Independence National Historical Park. To that end, Trust Executive Director Thomas Caramanico said the goal is to reopen the building as a museum.
“The bank is a beautiful, picturesque building. But it’s in need of repair and it’s underutilized,” said Caramanico. The Trust began fundraising for the restoration in 2017.
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The biggest windfall from individuals came through benefactors Denise Foderaro and Frank Quattrone. They offered a $1 million challenge grant.
Using these funds and others, the Trust has already hired architects and planners to refurbish the First Bank. The plan is to begin construction in 2023 and finish by 2026 for America’s 250th birthday.
But the most unusual donation came from Metallicus, Inc., a firm focused on the crypto industry. Caramanico called it “a proposal so revolutionary that we think Alexander Hamilton himself would approve.”
“This is the first gift of its kind to our organization and it seems fitting that we would be receiving it for the First Bank project,” said Caramanico. “It’s a wonderful example of the new technology, the new financial system supporting the history of the original financial system.”
Based in San Francisco, Metallicus offers an app called Metal Pay for trading cryptocurrency. CEO and Co-Founder Marshall Hayner transferred the funds on the First Bank’s front steps using his smartphone.
“We feel a little bit like those founding fathers of finance, working to create the next generation of banking — a new system based on blockchain technology and the evolving ways in which we see, send and use money,” said Hayner. “We are honored to contribute to the preservation of the First Bank of the United States as a token of what banking means to the free world.”
“We feel a little bit like those founding fathers of finance, working to create the next generation of banking — a new system based on blockchain technology and the evolving ways in which we see, send and use money.”
Connecting the First Bank and Metallicus is Lee Woolley. He serves as Vice Chairman for the Independence Historical Trust and is a senior executive at Metallicus.
Cynthia MacLeod, Superintendent of the Independence National Historical Park, thanked Hayner and Woolley for their work in facilitating the crypto contribution.
“The donation the trust will accept this morning will enable the project to move closer to our goal, and we are so close,” said MacLeod. “People who have marveled at the stunning exterior of this building can also be amazed by its magnificent interior and learn about the financial foundation of our country.”
Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) attended the transfer as a guest speaker and noted the donation has “terrific symbolism.” For Toomey, the contribution serves as an example of how the country’s understanding of money has changed over time.
“And so here we have, in the form of a cryptocurrency donation to this almost ancient bank, a real meaningful contribution to our country’s history,” said Toomey, “but also a symbolic reminder of the evolution of money in our society — an evolution that is going to continue, and that the federal government is going to have to figure out how to come to terms with, as technology never rests.”
Rick Rickman is a reporter for Broad + Liberty. @RRickman20