Source: NBC Philadelphia
Date: December 4, 2008
A Symbol of the Abolitionist Movement Laid to Rest...Again
Douglas B. MooneyWhen Isaac Ohayon bought this property on the 800 block of Lombard Street in South Philadelphia, it had been abandoned for 50 years, but he didn't know what lied beneath.
Douglas B. Mooney"The walls were falling down, there was a giant hole in the roof here," said Isaac Ohayon who is refurbishing the property.
Douglas B. MooneyBuilt in 1844 as Lombard Street Presbyterian Church, its founding pastor was Rev Stephen Gloucester, a freed slave, founder of anti-slavery societies, educator and publisher who died in 1850.
Douglas B. MooneyCalvin Presbyterian Church pastor Rev. Randy Barge said Gloucester was "an activist and was particularly instrumental in the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia and the abolitionist movement."
Douglas B. MooneyThere was a marker on the property, but church officials say it disappeared decades ago, thus no one really knew Rev. Gloucester was buried...until a few months ago.
Douglas B. MooneyOhayon, who is refurbishing the $4.5 million property, scraped the slab covering a brick vault crypt containing not one, but three skeletons.
Douglas B. MooneyArchaeologists determined Ohayon found the gravesite of Rev. Stephen Gloucester, his wife Anne and church elder John Windrow who all died in the 19th century. The wooden caskets had long disintegrated. Only brass handles and a few clothing buttons were intact.
Douglas B. MooneyOnly brass handles and a few clothing buttons were intact.
Douglas B. MooneyOhayon also found what he believes to be a passageway that may have been part of the Underground Railroad.
Douglas B. MooneyRev. Barge says the find was significant because Gloucester was the son of America's first black ordained Presbyterian minister.
Douglas B. MooneyRev. Gloucester, his wife and the church elder were re-interred earlier this week during a small private service at Old Pine Church at 4th Street.
Douglas B. MooneyA larger pubic svc is scheduled for next February when the church begins its black history month celebration.