Liberty Bell Center, Block 1, Independence Mall
Archaeological investigations of the new Liberty Bell Center complex were undertaken between 1999 and 2001, and encompassed many of the historical house lots that once stood on the east side of 6th Street, between Market and Chestnut Streets. This area was occupied as early as the 1690s, and in the 1790s was at the epicenter of the federal government during the 10-year period that Philadelphia served as the new nation's temporary capital. In fact, portions of the President's House — the Executive Mansion occupied by George Washington and John Adams — were contained within the limits of this project, and were archaeologically excavated. During the 19th and 20th centuries this location became one of the most fashionable parts of the city's commercial center. This entire block, and all the buildings that stood within it, were demolished in the early 1950s to make way for the construction of Independence Mall.
Excavations of this site produced a wealth of artifacts and other evidence related to the people who lived here in the 18th and early 19th centuries. This material was recovered from a series of well, privies and other features found below the basements of more recent buildings. One of the major finds of the investigation was a surviving portion of the ice house built by Founding Father Robert Morris, the famed Financier of the Revolution, and later used by our first two presidents as well. Other artifact deposits allowed researchers to reconstruct fascinating portrayals of what daily life was like for the households of coachmaker Thomas Ogle and cabinetmaker Alexander Turnbull, both prominent residents of South 6th Street in the early 19th century.
Overview of the Liberty Bell Center excavations.
Reconstruction of the Morris ice house and ice pit.
Pearlware tea set used by the family of Thomas Ogle.
"Annular ware" bowls, mugs, and pitchers from the table of Alexander Turnbull.