Independence Visitor's Center
Block 2, Independence Mall
Title: Hudson's Square
Phase III Data Recovery archaeological excavations of a portion of Block 2 of Independence Mall, now the site of the Independence Visitor's Center, were completed in December 1999. During the early 1700s, this block was part of the vast estate of William Hudson — a close friend of William Penn, a successful tanner and shipping merchant, and one of the former mayors of the city (1725-1726). During his lifetime this city block, known locally as "Hudson's Square", was primarily undeveloped pasture land and was remembered for its apple orchards and the shallow pond that appeared near the northwest corner of 5th and Market Streets after heavy rains. In the second half of the 18th century, after the death of William and his wife, this parcel was subdivided by his heirs and became home to many fellow successful merchants, as well as tradesmen, artisans, and shopkeepers of more modest means. In the 19th and 20th centuries this area developed into one of the core commercial centers of the city, and was eventually incorporated into Independence Mall in the 1950s. In the 1960s, a large portion of the archaeological remains sealed beneath this site were destroyed by the construction of a large underground parking garage.
Archaeological investigations for the Independence Visitor's Center focused on a series of house lots that formerly fronted on Market and 6th streets, at the far southeastern corner of the block. Excavations uncovered foundation remnants of the houses and buildings that once stood here, along with several deep privy and cesspool features. Artifacts recovered during the excavations help tell the stories of William Simmons, a high-ranking civil servant in the Department of Treasury during President George Washington's administration, and the chief accountant in the War Department during John Adams' presidency, as well as of two generations of the Everly family, who ran a comb manufactory and fancy dry goods store here from 1825 to about 1859. This report of findings includes not only a study of the artifacts collected from these households, and interpretations of what these materials tell us about foodways, fashion, and health issues of the time, but also presents a series of narrative vignettes combining historical research and information from the excavations in an attempt to make more vibrant the life stories of William Simmons and the Everlys.
A selection of artifacts recovered from this site is currently on display in the Independence Visitor's Center.
Doll parts recovered from the site, and dated ca. 1810-1819
Redware plates and bowls from the household of William Simmons.
Mid 19th century cologne bottles, possibly from the stock carried in the Everly's Fancy Goods store.
Turlington Balsam medicine bottle.
Historical foundations exposed during the excavations.
Members of the archaeological team screening "nightsoil" from a privy for artifacts.
- Block 2 [pdf]