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Philadelphia House

The J & 9th Street Redevelopment Project in Downtown Sacramento unearthed the Philadelphia House, a prehistoric structure catering to German immigrants. Led by The Housing & Redevelopment Agency, extensive excavations recovered over 29,000 artifacts, offering insights into daily life at the hotel. Owned by Peter Newman, an immigrant, the establishment provided cultural comfort until its sale in 1887.

Philadelphia House

J & 9th Street Redevelopment Project
Downtown Sacramento, California
Client: The Housing & Redevelopment Agency

Work Conducted:
Geophysical survey
Data recovery

On this site were the remains of the Philadelphia House, built before the historic street raising effort of the 1860s and 70s, with its original basement and first floor still intact, were identified 10-20 feet below street grade.

Data recovery excavations within the Philadelphia House basement, resulted in the collection of over 29,000 artifacts, most of them associated with the restaurant and saloon. The collection consisted of a rich assortment of white earthenware plates, bowls, cups, serving pieces, and an assortment of barware, including glasses, decanters, liquor bottles, and butchered animal bone. Structural remains and hardware, including nails, window glass, and doorknobs were recovered as well. Other items, however, were of a more personal nature, such as eyeglasses, toothbrushes, buttons, and medicine bottles, belonging to the transient residents of the establishment.

When the Philadelphia House data sets were compared with other Sacramento hotels/boarding houses of a similar time period, it became clear that it was not typical.

The Philadelphia House was the only boarding house in Sacramento that catered specifically to the needs of German immigrants. Meals served at the hotel included German favorites, such as sausage, veal, rabbit, and headcheese. Peter Newman, like the other proprietors of the Philadelphia House, provided many people, some of them immigrants, with room and board in what was termed “the finest German style,” which probably meant a lot to those folks, especially those who were homesick for the country and family they left behind.

In 1877 Peter Newman, a 34-year-old German immigrant, purchased the Philadelphia House hotel and saloon, moving his 32-year-old pregnant wife, Fredrika, their 5-year-old son Albert, 3-year-old son Fred, and his mother-in-law, 81-year-old Elizabeth Stover into the boarding house. By 1880 the Newman family had grown to seven with the birth of Marie, now 3 years old, and the addition of little one-year old Henry.

Peter Newman sold the Philadelphia House in 1887.

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