“the Corps has said that in its opinion two components at the site meet the National Register criteria and possess sufficient integrity to be deemed historic properties while other archaeological resources at the site do not possess integrity due to the past centuries of land disturbance on the site.” — Tom McCulloch, ACHP (2008/09/04)

September 25, 2008

The Corps of Engineers selected only “two components at the site” — the Native American settlement and British Army Redoubt No. 1.

James Boyer, Corps of Engineers, wrote on Jan. 22, 2008:

“Please understand that some of us involved in this consultation do not have a professional background in the field of history or archaeology.”

Without that expertise, the Corps of Engineers cannot determine National Register potential. Further, Boyer refuses to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106:

“The agency official shall ensure that a determination, finding, or agreement under the procedures in this subpart is supported by sufficient documentation to enable any reviewing parties to understand its basis” [36 CFR § 800.11]

After repeated requests by Torben Jenk for that “sufficient documentation,” Boyer wrote on Aug. 4, 2008:

“We will get back to you once we have had a chance to discuss your message with our archaeologist, who is on vacation.”

That sufficient documentation has NOT been delivered and there is no basis for their determination that “other archaeological resources at the site do not possess integrity due to the past centuries of land disturbance on the site.”

Boyer relied upon the false assertions of Terrence McKenna (Keating) and his revolving-door of Principal Investigators: Daniel Bailey, Richard Baublitz and Judson Kratzer (A.D. Marble).

The applicant, Corps, PHMC and ACHP knew nothing about British Army Redoubt No. 1, Batchelors’ Hall and many other historic structures that stood on the Sugar House site.  The Corps cannot ignore the historic documentary evidence for Masters’ Tide Mill (c. 1715), Kensington Bank (ca. 1826), Burtis & Keen’s Cotton Mill (ca. 1820), Kensington Screw Dock & Spermaceti Works (ca. 1830), Point Pleasant Foundry (ca. 1809), plus the 18th & 19th century shipyards, associated industries, residences and taverns.

That extensive historic documentary evidence provided by local historians should have been studied by the Corps, PHMC and ACHP prior to authorizing the “removal of obstructions (foundations, slabs, walls, etc.), to whatever extent they are now present” — to preserve the sufficient integrity of association and setting, and the preserved contextual relationship between artifacts in an environment that can be reconstructed.


“I have known both the Corps’ and State’s archaeologists for many years and I trust their judgment…” — Tom McCulloch, ACHP (2008/08/04)

September 25, 2008

Tom McCulloch, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, continued:

“… when they say they have given due consideration to the information provided by the consulting parties, and are satisfied that the consultants also have taken this material into account in designing their identification efforts.”

“I trust their judgement” is neither sufficient oversight nor sufficient documentation to comply with National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106: 

“The agency official shall ensure that a determination, finding, or agreement under the procedures in this subpart is supported by sufficient documentation to enable any reviewing parties to understand its basis” [36 CFR § 800.11].


“Not every nook and cranny needs to be investigated, especially in light of the apparent extent of previous ground disturbance on this site.” — Tom McCulloch, ACHP (2008/08/04)

September 25, 2008

National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106 requires:

“Review existing information on historic properties within the area of potential effects, including any data concerning possible historic properties not yet identified” [36 CFR § 800.4.a.2]. 

McCulloch does not reconcile his “not every nook and cranny needs to be investigated” with the requirement to review “any data concerning possible historic properties not yet identified.” What qualifies as less or more than a “nook and cranny”? 

— Revolutionary War forts and/or weapons and weapon projectiles?

— Early learned societies and eighteenth century craftsmen workshops?

— Shipyards and slipways?

— Tools, structures or portions of structures of other industries?

— What material remains of past human life or activities?

McCulloch’s claim of “apparent extent of previous ground disturbance” is not substantiated by documentary evidence.


“… we believe the applicant should provide to all the consulting parties a map that overlays…” — Tom McCulloch, ACHP (2008/09/04)

September 25, 2008

Full excerpt from Tom McCulloch, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (9/4/2008):

“Finally, since the question of whether the applicant actually tested the specific area where folks believe the location of Redoubt # 1 and Batchelors’ Hall to be continues to remain an issue, and is one that the Pennsylvania SHPO needs to have clarified as it reviews the Corps’ findings, we believe the applicant should provide to all the consulting parties a map that overlays its test trenches, pits, and borings against the purported location of the fort and hall, with a short summary of the findings of its testing program in these specific areas.  We assume the applicant may simply need to assemble this material out of the documentation it has already generated or received from the consulting parties; however, if the Corps believes this issue can best be dealt with in a meeting among the consulting parties focusing solely on this issue (and not on the Sugar House project in general), we would support such a meeting.”

National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106 requires: “Review existing information on historic properties within the area of potential effects, including any data concerning possible historic properties not yet identified” [36 CFR § 800.4.a.2].

Why does McCulloch limit the “map that overlays” solely to the location Redoubt No. 1 and Batchelors’ Hall?

This follows the applicant’s repeated attempts to ignore or deny the “sufficient documentation” that has been provided for Masters Tide Mill (c. 1715), Kensington Bank (ca. 1826), Burtis & Keen’s Cotton Mill (ca. 1820), Kensington Screw Dock & Spermaceti Works (ca. 1830), Point Pleasant Foundry (ca. 1809), plus the 18th & 19th century shipyards, associated industries, residences and taverns. 

The “map that overlays” should also include the structures so well described and located in the insurance surveys provided in A.D. Marble’s reports (yet never used for field archaeology).

The “map that overlays” should include more information on the shipwrights including the Grice’s, Eyre’s, Bowers’, Donaldson’s, Clinton’s and Wilson.

This poorly-managed and ignore-the-evidence Sugar House Section 106 Process has forced the local historians to constantly repeat themselves rather than adding yet more information to the record to efficiently guide field archaeology.


“most important for archaeological sites is the integrity of association and setting, the preserved contextual relationship between artifacts in an environment that can be reconstructed.” — Tom McCulloch, ACHP (2008/09/04)

September 25, 2008

The Corps of Engineers, Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and applicant have long ignored, misunderstood and dismissed the hundreds of pages of historical documentary evidence delivered by local historians to help guide field archaeology during this Sugar House Section 106 Process.

This wealth of information provides the crucial details by location (deeds, surveys, maps), by description of activities (journals, diaries, account books, manuscript and published histories), and by time (all of the above) to show the development of the SugarHouse site from first Swedish settlement in 1664 through eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century industrialization.

It is precisely these layers of contextual documentary data that should have been used by field archaeologists to guide and understand the “contextual relationship between artifacts in an environment that can be reconstructed.”

Surely in-situ “foundations, slabs, walls, etc.” qualify as “the integrity of association and setting, the preserved contextual relationship between artifacts in an environment that can be reconstructed.”

By approving the “removal of obstructions (foundations, slabs, walls, etc.), to whatever extent they are now present,” from the 8.3-acre Historic Area H-3 on the SugarHouse site the Corps, PHMC and ACHP have likely destroyed the sufficient integrity of association and setting, the preserved contextual relationship between artifacts in an environment that can be reconstructed.


“However, I don’t believe the archaeologist [Skipper Scott] the Philadelphia District has brought on board has had the time to prepare any further extended justification that goes beyond his professional opinion” — Tom McCulloch, ACHP (2008/09/04)

September 20, 2008

National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106 36 CFR § 800.11 requires:

“The agency official shall ensure that a determination, finding, or agreement under the procedures in this subpart is supported by sufficient documentation to enable any reviewing parties to understand its basis.”

“Opinions” are not “sufficient documentation.”

Two months after apparently rendering some verbal judgement, Skipper Scott of the Corps has still not delivered “sufficient documentation” to comply with Section 106.


“‘Historic Property’ is a specific defined term,…” — Tom McCulloch, ACHP (2008/09/04)

September 20, 2008

Full McCulloch quote is:

“‘Historic Property’ is a specific, defined term, and includes prehistoric or historic districts, sites, buildings, structures, or objects (a category that includes statues, sculptures and monuments, not archaeological artifacts per se) that are listed on, or are eligible for inclusion to the National Register of Historic Places. To be deemed historic, and thus considered under Section 106 and these regulations, a property MUST meet the National Register criteria AND possess sufficient integrity to allow for interpretation.”

National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106 requires:

“Review existing information on historic properties within the area of potential effects, including any data concerning possible historic properties not yet identified.” [36 CFR § 800.4.a.2]

The substantial historical documentary evidence provided by local historians has been largely ignored and dismissed.