Monday, July 20, 2009

Holy Ghost Church - ground disturbance

Several weeks ago, prior to the Planning Commission meeting, a letter from Mark Shaffer of the Pennsylvania Museum and Historic Preservation Commission was sent to HUD, copied to Phoenixville Borough Council, the Planning Commission, and others.

Mr. Shaffer noted therein that he obtained previously unknown information regarding matters of potential historical significance on the Holy Ghost Church property and recommended historical findings and archeological surveys prior to development.

Personally, I was hopeful the information Mr. Shaffer obtained would prevent any ground disturbance until the site was examined.

On July 12, 2009 I was surprised to see a small bulldozer on the Holy Ghost Church property. The operator was working near the stone wall at the time I took photographs. I also observed that a huge hole was excavated in front of the Church with a large pile of dirt nearby. While I was on site, the equipment operator proceeded to fill the hole.

I was told the men working were conducting a "perk test".

(Click to enlarge)

Recently, as noted previously on this blog, certain members of Holy Ghost Church were served with notice of a civil lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas, West Chester, PA.

The suit, as per my read, requests an injunction to stay activity regarding the Church property by anyone other than the St. Nicholas Brotherhood.

Today, I received pictures of additional, relatively recent ground disturbance.

The pictures above are from the upper right side of the parking lot near the cottage.

The holes discovered yesterday look to have been made by an auger. Both holes show a debris field of very old brick, including what appears to be old concrete, coal and/or a type of slag, with some pieces coated with what may be whitewash.

The Reeves mansion was stucco with whitewash and the exposed debris may be from the demolition of the former Reeves family home.

However, the underground tunnel(s) of local lore may also be in the general area of the newly-found excavations.

One hole appears to be closed, the other may still be open and should be closed to protect any underground artifacts especially if the roof of a tunnel has been breached.

The Holy Ghost Church property must be protected and preserved during the litigation process or we may lose important and significant historical information forever.


Anonymous said...

Both of the holes are open. The Reeves mansion when it was demolished was removed by truckload and the last remaining parts of the home were demolished into the basement. This parking lot is too far away from the old mansion for it to be from the mansion. There go the tunnels. Who dug here? Who authorized this excavation?

Anonymous said...

Phoenixville's own spiritual battle is occuring here, mirroring the chaotic world around this little borough. Such a strange story and so very far from the love of Christ...
friends who are so inclined...pray that it be God's will for the good side to win this one.

Anonymous said...

That hole recently dug by the parking lot would be the direct route to the river by underground access. The location is too far away from what was the side of the Reeves mansion while it was in use. There was no mansion cellar at that site either. Indiscriminate digging and boring will only compromise the integrity of the tunnels that I know to in fact exist since I personally stood in them. Someone is illegally trying to detroy any evidence that this is indeed a slaves road to freedom and they should be ashamed of themselves for so brazenly trying to destroy history to satisfy their greed.

Anonymous said...

"Someone is illegally trying to detroy any evidence that this is indeed a slaves road to freedom and they should be ashamed of themselves for so brazenly trying to destroy history to satisfy their greed."

OMG. What kind of a place is this church? They just think they can do whatever they want to with no regard for anything. This project will never get off the ground. Bad karma all the way around.

Anonymous said...

It may not be the church.... it could be another individual determined to beat the system that tries to protect historic areas such as this from development.

Isn't there someone around town struting his feathers as the "equitable owner"? Notice this is only a question....not a statement so it shouldn't be censored.

Anonymous said...

There absolutely was a celler to the left of the red doors entering the mansion. The cellar had an access to the railroad as well.
This cellar had bathrooms we all used at the picnics.

There seems to be a lot of authorities who are not posting full accurate information.

Anonymous said...

I was also confused by the Anonymous 7:28 posting stating no cellar at that site. I had to read it a few times until it seemed to me that they were not stating a cellar didn't exist, but it was not at the site they were digging. We all used those bathrooms in the mansion cell cellar- creapy as they were.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous 11:09 PM;Before your statements are thought and believed as being the one and only authority of the Reeves mansion footprint, the fact is that the main doors to the original mansion were to the side of the buildings off the porches. The MAIN door with step used by the church was the "ballroom" entrance, had NO porch and was several yards away and across driveway of current and latest bore holes. The steps leading to the bathrooms and cellar were near the porch and well beyond the cottage entrance across the driveway. Too many inaccurate and misleading side issues are being distributed and thrown around as fact and can only confuse the issue which is and should be to save the property from being sub-divided and forever destroying the history that lies beneath hallowed ground.

Anonymous said...

Photos ARE fact. Those of us who lived and breathed at this old mansion due to being founders know facts of how it looked, what was where etc. Living here all our life, playing, working, cooking and praying in the mansion for weddings, our NY dances so on and so forth do make me an authority of sorts. The porch wrapped around that area toward shrine and around to front.
entrances to the rr were down in the cellar area which contained the bathrooms.

Many know this. No need to be rude if you do not recall this as most are too young to recall accurately or saved the photos of our basket blessing in front of this porch in area near what was the greenhouses

Anonymous said...

Are there any photos of the mansion anyone would like to post?

Anonymous said...

The proper authorities were already given the photo copies. No need to post for more drama and debate here.

Anonymous said...

The ground disturbance activity you witnessed was for perc testing. A perc (percolation) test is a means to determine a soil’s water-absorption rate. In broad terms, perc testing is simply observing how quickly a known volume of water dissipates into an excavated hole of known surface area. Perc tests are not just for designing septic systems. They are also required to correctly design storm water management systems.

The holes adjacent to the upper parking lot – there are three of them – all share common features: dirt, rock, and rubble are piled onto about half the circumference, the holes’ shape are oblong, and the holes progress underground at an angle of 30 – 45 degrees. If, as you and your friends suggest, the holes were made by an auger then there would be dirt etc. around the entire circumference, the holes would be almost perfectly round, and they would go straight down at 90 degrees to the surface. What you and your minions have mistaken for auger holes are in fact woodchuck burrows. Apparently no one told Gus he couldn’t dig here.

Those who argue that the chuckholes are too far away from the mansion site to contain remnants of its rubble are broadcasting their ignorance of large demolition / construction sites. Rubble and waste are never all in one, tidy pile.

Anonymous said...

I'd personally like to see the old photos. Can someone post a few here to compare to the photos of the dig sites?

Anonymous said...

I saw the sites myself and took the photos. There is dirt all around the holes and HOW BOUT THAT>>>> THEY ARE ALL AT 90Degree angles. No woodchuck has the teeth strength to pull out the rocks and bricks that were originally at the holes by the parking lot. I'm a country girl who's seen plenty of woodchuck holes in my lifetime and these holes are too perfect in shape to be a woodchuck.

Bottom line....don't dig on land that ya don't own. IF you did....BAD CHOICE... there are consequences.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:45 - Photo in KJ's posting shows dirt half way around on one hole, other two are the same. You are obviously being disingenuous on this point and the others. Deceit, too, has its consequences.

Anonymous said...

What consequences? These clowns who don't own this land have been in contempt twice and are now getting sued. But it still moves forward in Borough Council and the Planning Commission.

Crime pays in Phoenixville.

Anonymous said...

It was stated in the lawsuit brought against the "fake" brotherhood, on page 17 item #87 that perk tests were conducted on the property between July 6 and July 10. To do perk tests you need to dig a number of holes. Whether this was done with an auger or by hiring a woodchuck, the test was done under the direction of those people who want to steal the property from the Brotherhood.

Anonymous said...

Crime might pay at a local level in Phoenixville, but it certainly doesn't at a State or Federal level. How do you know that this isn't the tip of the indictment iceberg? And that it might include everyone in Phoenixville involved with pushing this fraudulent land grab deal forward? You don't do you? There is a solution, and it involves honesty, integrity, and transparent accounting practices - something the current HGOC board members have proven themselves to be entirely incapable of.

Anonymous said...

Hey Country Girl; since you happen to be a nurse too, stick to that as you have no clue as to what the
officers / SNB have done for years in the name of both entities.

You could end up putting your foot in your mouth again.

Anonymous said...

to 10:59 PM; I was at the demolition of the mansion;I saw the trucks carry away the "rubble" which in fact, was taken by a renovators concern from Phila. to be used in the restoration of several homes in Society Hill. And by golly, they DID in fact bury it in a neat pile directly beneath the old building and didn't push it over to the approximately 90 feet from the demolition site to the current upper parking lot. To do that, they would have had to destroy the circular driveway and former church paved entrance which still exists intact. Woodchucks's? What a laugh. You can spin the story any way you like;name calling and snide remarks only proves you're attending church for all the wrong reasons.

Anonymous said...

Acting on behalf of both entities? Without the authority to act? Hmmmm... Is that legal? Isn't there some type of little legal issue you bring up here?

Anonymous said...

Hey man...can you catch them little woodchuck fellers for me???? I want to build an inground pool :) What the heck, might as well dig the new foundation for my home! Or better yet... if they're that good at digging tunnels, you should keep them for later needs???

Anonymous said...


You are quite obviously not a member of the founding families and must have folklore to go by as your facts are inaccurate.

Move on.

Anonymous said...

Since Evans attested at the May borough council and planning meetings that he had COMPLETED the necessary tests for groundwater mgt, EPA, and historical, why in the world would these perc tests as you describe, be needed in JULY! LIER LIER PANTS ON FIRE!

You boys better get your stories straight or you could lose a lot more then the building fund!

Anonymous said...

The picture of the woodchuck hole- that is a lot of displaced dirt and rocks. Did he dig deep enough to put in his own elderly woodchuck apartment complex under that ground?

Anonymous said...

If you catch any of those woodchucks that are digging those holes,save one for me. They were a family staple of ours while growing up in GA, we called them groundhogs or pasture pigs. Best to marinate them first;beer works great! Good idea for the next church picnic???

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

okay... isnt' this church hurting enough already? Why would you add fuel to the fire??
We needed to go to the community since we were silenced at the church for speaking up at the church meeting... where we should have been able to have the dialogue that needed to occur.
IF you have an issue that is not about the illegal land sale, that is an internal issue.
Gossip someplace else please. We will eventually need to start a healing process.

Anonymous said...

10:40 Gossip is mistruths:

It is fact that those who do not agree with land sale are treated different.

It is fact that those in photos have publicly stated they left the church as a family yet are seeked for free camp as they help with Yes votes.

It is fact that this same speaker chastices the elders against the sale quite rudely, on record, at annual meeting of church.

Yes the church needs to heal but it all roots back to the main issue. Land sale plans and manipulatons of people and council have allowed disturbances and agreements of sale to move forward.

Anonymous said...

..." we needed to go to the community..."

Get real, you obviously rarely attend the meetings as the community does not give a crap about what Evans does as they have done nothing for your cause...

The leaders don't care for the mnst part as they have allowed it to go from Historic to DOMM already.

It doesn't seem like any of you are silenced just being sneeky about how you address things. Get some backbone and stand up to those that "silence" you.

Is burial on Lovers Lane that important once you are dead?

Anonymous said...

If Council takes action on HG on the 28th than they should be sued.These morons wouldn't know how to make a common sense decision if it bit them in the A$$.The sad part is the taxpayers have to foot the bill.I wish the bill was $ 1.00 like everything else in this town.

Anonymous said...

If an applicant wants a hearing and advertises, the coucil must proceed.

The equitable owners must prove they are who they say as that is still questionable.

Do not be so confident as a lawyer can possibley prove that the board has acted as the brotherhood for many many years building shrines, rectories, digging up trees and planting trees on the property. Over confidence is not wise as again, ownership is not crystal clear by the courts. Just ruling on the complaint. There is a difference! Do you really thing the majority of the church will vote with the people who filed suit on stopping this process? If not, then they will allow all their funds to go into the legal fund for the people sued.

The who hath the most money typically wins.

Anonymous said...

To the 5:44:00 PM poster:

The lack of intelligence in your posting is obvious. The ownership had been established as the true and original SNB, it is the HGOC board imposters that are questioning it.

My friend planted trees on his rental property, built a shrine, stopped paying rent and thought that he owned the property, but was still evicted, against his protests. Legally, he could have spent a fortune defending his position, but would have been the stupidest fool in the world to think he could have won that suit.

The majority of the church did not want the property to be sold and the vote was manipulated to have a slim margin of favor, and caused extreme division. Something you would really want within a church congregation, right? The board is still trying to snow the "sheeple" in the congregation, but the truth is out, and in the end, the truth will win. To disrespect the intentions of the original SNB is morally wrong, as is the attempted sal of property. The current HGOC board members are not true legal members of the original SNB and never will be. Watch and see......

Anonymous said...

With all the ground disturbance and church chaos;

Have any of the defendents responded?

Is the hearing cancelled by council?

Did the officers decide at the two special meetings this week to request the resignation of the treasurer / key defendant Alex Breno? He has two conflicts of interest financially with allowing disturbances, paying for work to date while knowing from his court testimony, he had no right cut checks with church donations and restricted funds!

Anonymous said...

"Do not be so confident as a lawyer can possibly prove that the board has acted as the brotherhood for many many years building shrines, rectories, digging up trees and planting trees on the property. "

I can see why you have this opinion, probably since you have little knowledge of the actual lease. I have read it - word for word. It states that the Holy Ghost board not only has the ability to do this on behalf of the Saint Nicholas Brotherhood, they are in fact required to care for the property during the term of the lease.

As for building on the land - think in terms of a renter. If a renter paints the apartment with or without the owners permission, it does not make them the new owner. If the renter enters into an agreement to sell the building with an unknowing buyer, it does not make the renter the owner. In fact, when I rented an apartment, I was warned that I could attach anything to the walls that I wanted, but once I did , it became the property of the owner.

...and as for the most money winning, I would tell you that the person who tells the truth ALWAYS wins (eventually), and the one with the best lawyer wins in court.

Didn't Holy Ghost lose the lawsuit they brought to start this whole mess - in case you have the bad data from the Holy Ghost president, Holy ghost actually lost that one.

Anonymous said...


Wow thank you for clarifying.
I finally obtained a copy of the lease and it really clarifies your position.

I wish everyone on the board and from church had this before a vote so they could fully understand.

The lawyer for church should be in a lot of trouble for bad advise. Hope they give refunds!