The Robert Morris Ice House
Archeologists working on the site for the new Independence Visitor Center and the Liberty Bell Complex uncovered the remains of an ice house from the mansion used by Presidents George Washington and John Adams while Philadelphia was the nation's capital from 1790-1800. They have also found several personal artifacts at the site for the Independence Visitor Center, allowing a glimpse into the occupations and lifestyles of the residents of Sixth and Market Streets who lived during the birth of our nation.
The mansion, which belonged to Robert Morris, was demolished in 1832. It was located on what is now the 500 block of Market Street, near the site of the current Liberty Bell Pavilion. The ice house is mentioned in correspondence between Washington and Morris in 1784, when Washington asked for information to build a similar ice house at Mount Vernon, his home in Virginia.
Block 2 of Independence Mall, future site for the Independence Visitor Center at Sixth and Market Streets, was the heart of the bustling section of Philadelphia during the time of the Declaration of Independence. Residents of the area whose property has been identified include Dr. Caspar Wistar, the renowned anatomist and intellectual who lived on Market Street, and a notary who resided on Sixth Street. These findings will help us better understand the culture of the affluent residents of Market Street and the merchants and artisans who lived around the corner on Sixth Street.
Upon completion of excavations, the archeologists will analyze their discoveries and prepare reports of their findings for use by future scholars interested in 18th century Philadelphia.