Airbnb offers special tours of Philadelphia sites

The tour was informative, interesting and illuminating. 

And then Michael Norris, executive director of the Carpenters Company, brought out the Scotch whiskey and the intimate gathering turned into a discussion about ghosts.

Kara Stephens asked whether the building she had just toured is haunted.

Norris didn’t say yes. But he didn’t say no, either, and he even brought out a couple of photos that might or might not include a specter. 

The verdict on the tour?

“This turned out to be dope!” said Jack Fernsby, who was with Stephens. 

“It feels special to be here,” agreed Stephens, “like we’re doing something secret.”

Six people joined Norris for an after-hours, behind-the-scenes tour of Carpenters’ Hall, an 18th-century building in Philadelphia that was the site of the First Continental Congress — arranged not through the institution which also was once home to Benjamin Franklin’s Library Company of Philadelphia, the American Philosophical Society and the First and Second National Banks of the United States, but through Airbnb, a distinctly 21-century innovation.

A staged look at the room of Betsy Ross inside the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia.

Another historical Philadelphia site offers the same type of experience, also through Airbnb: The Betsy Ross House, a former boarding house on Arch Street that was home to the most famous woman ever to wield a needle and thread, has its own version of Made By Us, what the travel site describes as “a coalition of history and civic organizations.”

Airbnb takes no commission, either, offering institutions hard-hit by COVID-19 closures, capacity limits and fewer tourists to take full advantage of a much-needed additional revenue stream.