McKenna’s attempt to cast the research delivered by myself (with Ken Milano and Rich Remer) into the “anti-gaming agenda” is ludicrous. The historic documentary evidence delivered to date should be enough but for those who are curious, I have been preserving and restoring historic structures in the Philadelphia area for twenty-five years. Significant projects include the conservation of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge (Paul Phillipe Cret, Architect), restoring the Kay-Evans House and outbuildings at Croft Farm, NJ (built 1753), and renovating scores of eighteenth and nineteenth century row homes. I was one of the craftsmen who restored 110-12 Linden Street, Camden NJ, which won “First Prize Exterior Rehabilitation (1991)” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Since moving to Kensington in 1983, I has been collecting and sharing the local history through articles, handouts, maps, books (“Kensington History: Stories & Memories” & “Workshop of the World Revisited”), and the website Workshop of the World—Philadelphia.
I have given presentations at local libraries, churches, institutions, the Union League of Philadelphia (“The Elusive Thomas Dolan” and “Union Goods, illustrated stories of manufacturing by Union League members in Philadelphia during the Civil War (1861-1865)“), and recently at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania (“Colonial History of Shackamaxon & Kensington, 1664-1777”).
For years I have led tours of historic and industrial sites, including “Kensington & Frankford — Textiles, Metals & Beer” for the Society for Industrial Archaeology National Conference (2007).
In 1995, Ken Milano and Rich Remer started the Kensington History Project. This grew out of a collaboration with Harry Silcox, the former Principal of Lincoln High School, who asked us to work with middle and high school students plus senior citizens on an “intergenerational service learning project” focused on the history of Kensington. The result was edited by Harry Silcox and Jamie Catrambone and published as “Kensington History: Stories & Memories” (Brighton, 1996).
Ken, Rich and I continued with presentations at local libraries, institutions and in significant buildings, always encouraging neighbors to bring and share their mementos. These presentations have been well covered in the local Star newspaper since 1995. For years, Ken has researched and written the weekly “The Rest is History” column for the Star.
Our research on Kensington and outreach was published in “Pennsylvania Legacies, (Nov. 2002)” published by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Based upon all our research on Kensington at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Ken, Rich and I prepared the first finding guide to those resources, “Kensington: A Bibliographic Guide.”
All these activities definitively prove that Torben Jenk, Ken Milano and Rich Remer were interested in the history of Kensington long before gaming was proposed, and that interest will continue long after this Sugar House Section 106 process is over.
During our extensive research, we did find historic references to the problem of gaming by the British Army during their occupation of Philadelphia, from John Jackson, With the British Army in Philadelphia 1777-1778 (Presidio 1979), p. 211-13:
“Ewald asserted that City Tavern was the largest of the gambling clubs; its bank always consisted of 1,000 guineas. Observers noted an ‘extravagant rage for play’ and believed that high-ranking officers encouraged young officers to gamble for high stakes, sums they could not afford to lose. Ewald said, ‘More than once I have seen 50,000 dollars change hands – where some made their fortune but many their ruin.’ Peebles visited the rooms and ‘saw much gambling going on as usual, a great deal of money lost & won this winter.’ Peebles, a small gambler, admitted playing dollar whist at the room and winning eight dollars. Colonel von Wurmb reported, ‘We have parties and gamble, whereby every night 700 and 800 pounds are lost and won.’ Apparently as a gesture, the bank permitted the players to win all the money on the table on the final night of play, 30 April. Peebles said the bank’s net winnings for the season were ₤7,000.
“The harmful effect of gambling on the British army was evidenced by the ruin of many officers. Deeply in debt as a result of their losses, they were forced to sell their commissions, usually to less qualified individuals. Ewald said, ‘Some even shot themselves out of desperation.’ Charles Stedman, a native Philadelphian and British officer with a deep-rooted prejudice against Howe, deplored the loss of numerous honorable officers who might have rendered great service to Great Britain.”
Because this gambling information does not relate to archaeological investigations at the SugarHouse site, it was not included in reports or correspondence.