SUGARHOUSE CASINO ARCHAEOLOGY DIG 2007-2008
Below are links to websites where you can read all about the federally mandated archaeological dig that took place in early 2007 at the old Jack Frost Sugar Refinery site and continued on into 2008. Some of the links are no longer working. I will do what I can to fix them and/or find the material and put it up myself. Situated on the Delaware River waterfront, at the foot of Frankford Avenue, the Sugarhouse site was once known in colonial times as Point Pleasant, and it is now the location for a proposed slot parlor casino.
Due to SugarHouse Casino wanting to build out into the river, the Army Corps of Engineers must issue a permit, but not before the SugarHouse Casino executives perform a federally mandated historical and cultural impact study, or the archaeology dig that is currently underway.
The SugarHouse Casino site is located on the Delaware River waterfront, from Shackmaxon Street at the north end, to Ellen Street at the south end, with Delaware Avenue on the west and the Delaware River to the east. The site is about 10 acres of hard land and 12 acres of landfill.
The casino proposal helped to divide the neighborhood, as well as the politicians. New community groups were formed, some “pro” and some “con” on the coming of the casino issue. Local state representatives, the state senator, and the mayor at the time were once against the location of the casino in Fishtown, favoring to relocate. Pennsylvania’s governor on the other hand simply wanted it built.
We local historians (the Kensington History Project), took neither a pro nor con stance on the casino issue, but instead favored SugarHouse Casino to simply do what the federal law mandates them to do, to professionally document the site. From the beginning the historical documentation of the SugarHouse site had been poorly researched and written up, and thus we needed to step in to make sure that Kensington & Fishtown’s history was properly recorded and represented and not overlooked simply because the casino industry didn't care much for archaeology.
Torben Jenk, a member of the Kensington History Project was a consulting party member to the Section 106 process (the archaeology dig) and he, along with Rich Remer and myself (Ken Milano), as well as other friends of the project, busily employed ourselves in documenting this sliver of land, once known as Point Pleasant. Point Pleasant turned out to be one of the most historic 22 acres in all of Philadelphia County. Below is some material that is present as it was founded at the time of the archaeology work.
BATCHELOR"S HALL FOUND - NEW ARCHAEOLOGICAL WORK PERFORMED ON THE SUGARHOUSE SITE HAS REVEALED THE LONG FORGOTTEN BATCHELOR'S HALL SITE. CLICK "HERE" TO READ ABOUT IT PLUS SEE SOME GREAT IMAGES.
Work Shop of the World - Point Pleasant Archaeolgy.
Formerly known as Point Pleasant, this piece of Kensington,'s waterfront now called Fishtown, was the scene of some of the earliest development in Philadelphia County. Torben Jenk has compiled a list of sources that illustrate what the Kensington History Project and others have been using to help with the historical documentation of the SugarHouse archaeology dig. There are a number of excellent maps showing the British Revolutionary War fort, something the Casino folks were not aware of afte issuing two reports. Thus far evidence has shown that the site is one of the richest in Philadelphia, with everything from three major Native American paths converging on the site, the finding of over 200 American Indian artifacts just 4 inches underground, Bachelor’s Hall – an early learned society founded by friends of Benjamin Franklin, and a place that included the first botanical garden visited by Bartram, evidence for a British Revolutionary War Fort manned by General Simcoe & the Queen’s Rangers, Colonial Shipyards, the Kensington Screw Dock & Spermacetti Works, early foundries, etc etc. Be sure to click on the "Updates" link at the top of the page for more information, maps, and illustrations.
Here is a blog on the archaeological work being conducted on the SugarHouse Casino site: http://section106.wordpress.com/
Ken Milano's "Rest is History" columns in the Fishtown Star dealing with the history of the SugarHouse site
Here is presented a dozen or so columns written for the Fishtown Star all dealing with the history of the SugarHouse site.
THE BELOW LINKS NO LONGER ARE WORKING. I AM TRYING TO LOCATE HARD COPIES OF THESE ITEMS AND WILL PUT THEM UP ONCE I FIND THEM. IN THE MEANTIME IF YOU WOULD LIKE THIS INFO CONTACT THE FOLKS I MENTION AND PERHAPS THEY WILL RESPOND POSITIVELY.
Philadelphia Archaeological Forum (PAF) – SugarHouse Casino Project
A professional archaeology organization for the Philadelphia area and a consulting party member to the archaeology dig, PAF has put up on their website all of the archaeology reports that have been issued thus far by A. D. Marble & Co., the archaeology company hired by the Sugarhouse Casino folks to investigate the site. The Phase 2, Volume 2 Report has great maps and pictures. PAF has called for much more archaeology work to be done on the site.
Philadelphia Archaeological Forum's Response to the Phase II Reports
Kensington History Project's 60 Page Response to A.D. Marble & Co's Phase 1BII Archaeological Investigation Report.
This is a pdf file courtesy of Plan Philly, and it contains the Kensington History Project's response to archaeological work done thus far on the SugarHouse site. If you read through this sixty page report (includes great illustrations) you'll see why we could not sit back and let the poorly researched work of the SugarHouse Casino's archaeology team go by without commenting and correcting it.
Pennslyvania Historical Museum Commission Response to A.D. Marble & Co's Phase 1BII Report
Pennsylvania's caretaker for history, the Commission's response calls for many of the things that the Kensington History Project called for as well documented in our response.
Plan Philly Articles on the SugarHouse Archaeology Dig
Kellie Patrick Gates of Plan Philly has been keeping folks abreast of the goings on at the SugarHouse Casino archaeology dig. The above link takes you to a number of her articles at the Plan Philly website.
Hallwatch.org links to legal documents of SugarHouse Casino as well as A.D. Marble & Co.'s Reports, Summaries, Work Plans, Maps, etc.
Edmund Goppelt's website that keeps an eye of City Hall, has a number of the legal documents invovled in the SugarHouse Casino's development plans, as well as some of the Casino's archaeology team's (A.D. Marble & Co) reports, summaries, workplans. There is also some correspondence between the Army Corps of Engineers and the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission, as well as inhouse within the Army Corps itself. Make sure to click on the "Legal Documents" link as there are close to two dozen documents there.
Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Branch Philadelphia District Public Notice for Comment Period 5 March - 4 April 2008
Here is the archived public notice that was posted by the Army Corps of Engineers on their website. Was it ever distributed to neighbors? It's unclear, as I never seen it anywhere else but on the ACE's website. It's a pdf file that includes the SugarHouse Casino proposal, plans, etc.
Philadelphia's Fox News Channel 29 News Broadcast on Casino Archaeology 4 June 2008 (recorded at the McNeil Center talk at the University of Pennsylvania)