Birth of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania

The Republican Party in Pennsylvania was founded on November 27, 1854, in the home of David Wilmot in Towanda, Pennsylvania. Wilmot gathered his friends — former Governor Simon Cameron, Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, Colonel Alexander McClure, and former Governor Samuel Curtin — to form local Republican clubs in their home counties.

We take great pride in the fact that the first national convention was held in Pittsburgh on February 22, 1856. Later, party delegates held their first nominating convention at Philadelphia’s Musical Fund Hall on June 17, 1856. Two years later, on September 5, 1858, Pennsylvania’s Republican clubs met in Pittsburgh to form the state Republican Party.

In 1860, the Republican Party elected Samuel Curtin to the Governor’s office and gained control of the state Senate — which they did not relinquish for 30 years.

Of the 65 counties in the Commonwealth at that time, 64 were represented at the Pittsburgh Convention. David Wilmot served as the first Chairman of the Republican Party. In October of 1858, the Republican Party elected their first statewide official, John M. Reid, to the Supreme Court.

In 1959, George I. Bloom turned the Republican Party into a statewide organization with a new permanent headquarters in Harrisburg.

The Shaner Republican Center

In March of 2010, our Party was excited to return our statewide operations to the state-of-the-art Shaner Republican Center at 112 State Street, in Harrisburg. This was a complete renovation that took a great deal of effort and resources to complete.

Our first generous contribution for the “Bring Us Home” renovation came from the Lance Shaner family, which has a deep-rooted Republican history. Their family’s support enables us to get us back in the building. However, even with the Shaner family’s support, we still have to raise an additional $1 million for this project.