Old Original Bookbinders Site
Located near the corner of Second and Walnut Streets and discovered in 2005 during the renovation of the Old Original Bookbinders Restaurant and the associated construction of a new high-end condominium complex.
Old Original Bookbinders Site
This site was originally established on a gently sloping terrace along the northern banks of Dock Creek, very near the place where William Penn first came ashore to found Philadelphia.
Within a few short years, this location became subsumed within the earliest developed parts of the city, and for a time was within the side yard of the Slate Roof House property — Penn's one-time home in Philadelphia. In later years, as the city became more densely settled, the site became incorporated into an open backyard space near the corner of Second and Walnut Streets, and was later sealed beneath a small back building and parts of Moravian Street.
In 2005, archaeologists were brought in at the suggestion of the Philadelphia Historical Commission to monitor construction activities behind the Old Original Bookbinders Restaurant, in the location where the condominiums were planned. As that work commenced, archaeological monitors almost immediately detected preserved areas of the original landscape just a few feet below the surface of Moravian Street and those former backyard spaces.
By the time construction monitoring was finished, archaeologists had documented 10 historical brick-line shaft features — the below ground parts of privies, or outhouses, as well as some 1,500 square feet of preserved original ground surface (shaded dark blue in the site map below). Unfortunately, in this instance archaeologists were afforded no clear authority or legal mandate to halt construction and perform detailed, controlled investigations of these finds.
In the end, archaeologists were only able to perform limited testing of exposed shaft features/privies and to closely examine a very small patch of the preserved original ground surface (the dark band of soil shown here). In this tiny sliver of soil, measuring about twenty feet by one foot in total area, evidence of a previously undisturbed Native American encampment was discovered.
In all, nearly 40 prehistoric artifacts were pulled from the historic ground surface within this site, including a stemmed projectile point made from argillite (left), a quartzite scraping tool (right), manufacturing debris, and a single small piece of Native pottery. These objects indicate that the site was probably occupied sometime during the Early Woodland Period (ca. 1,000 B.C.–A.D. 0).
In addition to these artifacts a number of apparently intact features — possible evidence of Native American activity while living here — were observed and mapped within the site. All indications are that this site was extremely well- preserved prior to construction, and that it could have provided a great deal of information about the Native American residents of this area, had archaeologists been afforded the opportunity to conduct thorough, controlled excavations.