SugarHouse Casino archaeologists A.D. Marble on Friday turned in their official report on the foundation they unearthed earlier this month on the proposed casino site, and they still say it’s nothing more extraordinary than a 19th Century residential building.
But Torben Jenk, the preservationist and amateur local historian who told them where to dig to find the structure, remains convinced that it’s the remnants of an 18th Century social club of prominent Philadelphians called Bachelor’s Hall.
What happens now? That’s up to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The archaeology that has been done at the SugarHouse site is part of a historical review mandated by federal law because the casino needs a federal permit from the Army Corps to build its Delaware Avenue project as planned. Jenk is one of a group of citizen advisors to the review known as consulting parties. The Corps is also taking the advice of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. And because the Philadelphia office has no archeologist on site, a Corps archeologist who normally works in Texas has been brought in as well.
As of Friday afternoon, neither local Corps officials nor the historical agencies and archeologist they are looking to for guidance had completely reviewed the A.D. Marble report, said Corps spokesman Ed Voight.
Voight said after the review is complete, the Corps will decide on the next step.
The digging in search of Bachelor’s Hall was not initiated by The Corps. In fact, in August, The Corps wrote a letter to the PHMC saying that they were satisfied that SugarHouse and Marble had done all the digging necessary before the permit could be issued. The consulting parties were frustrated that this step and others had been taken without face-to-face meetings. In late October, the Corps called another face-to-face meeting, and it was at that meeting that Terry McKenna, project executive for SugarHouse’s general contractor, volunteered to look for the remains of Batchelor’s Hall, a tide mill and a shipyard at locations suggested by Jenk.