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Apartment Builders Unearth Historic Coffins

Monday, March 13, 2017

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The jobsite of a future 10-story apartment complex in Philadelphia’s Old City has been transformed into an archaeological dig.

Reports say construction crews halted excavation activities in late February after discovering dozens of coffins and human remains that were believed to be a part of a First Baptist Church burial ground established in 1707.

Historic records indicate that the bodies were supposed to have been relocated to the Mount Moriah Cemetery in Southwest Philadelphia around 1860, reports said.

“It’s a business unfortunately and sometimes it’s cheaper to cut corners in a business,” Dr. Lee Arnold with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania told a local CBS News affiliate.

Exhuming Underway

Archaeologists and anthropologists, directed by the head of Philadelphia’s Mütter Institute, have been working to carefully exhume the coffins, finding some of them intact and others deteriorating.

Kimberlee Moran, an associate teaching professor and director of the center of forensics at Rutgers University, told CBS Philly that the team would try to find out as much as they could about some of the earliest residents of Philadelphia.

“Ultimately, we want to reinter them at Mount Moriah Cemetery with the rest of the remains from this time period,” Moran added. She also noted that they would attempt to identify any living descendants.

Developer Statement

This is not the first time PMC Property Group, the apartment building developer, has encountered remains at the site.

Reports indicate that some remains were found in November 2016, and that’s when the team agreed to work with the Mütter Institute and Rutgers forensic archaeologists. The collection of coffins, however, was unearthed Feb. 20 as the builders were prepping for foundation and a parking garage.

PMC did not immediately respond Friday (March 10) to a request for information regarding the project and how the activities may have affected its timeline and costs.

“We’re trying to be respectful of what is found there, bearing in mind that this is an active construction site,” Jonathan Stavin, a PMC executive vice president, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

His team was scheduled to assess the situation Saturday (March 11), as the archaeological excavation team races to exhume the bodies, reports relate.



Tagged categories: Construction; Good Technical Practice; Historic Preservation; Project Management; Residential Construction; Residential contractors

Comment from Jesse Melton, (3/13/2017, 7:40 AM)

I think the figure in the foreground of the photo is an extraterrestrial. Everything about them is hard to look at.

I'm also willing to accept that she's a serial killer. Perhaps the great, great grandchild of a serial killer. She's carrying a femur and a small digging iron and is clearly trying to flee. Who else would do that?

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