Mystery lingers around secret room under W. Chester sidewalk
around secret room
WEST CHESTER The room uncovered beneath a West Chester sidewalk last month will soon be capped. But some residents aren't ready to let go of the mystery.
On Friday, they congregated on the corner of Church and Market Streets to take a closer look. The group - an elected member of the borough council, two West Chester University archaeologists, State Sen. Andy Dinniman, a public works employee, and passersby drawn in by the spectacle - took turns peering into the cavern.
There were flashlights and cameras and lots of conjecture. But few answers.
"They are actually trying to bring light in, which does presume use," Patrice Jeppson, an instructor of anthropology, said as she pointed at the glass manhole cover that was part of the room's ceiling.
A public works crew pulling up the sidewalk cracked that cover and discovered the room in mid-October. Experts have suggested the space was used as storage, with the glass window acting as a light source. Dinniman on Friday showed the group a similar room with an arched ceiling and round manhole cover in the basement of his office across the street.
Council member-elect Bill Scott, who gathered the group, had hoped Friday's site visit would inspire someone to do further research. He suggested the room be excavated, then offered to jump into the hole himself when someone reminded him about federal safety laws.
"I'll go down and pull it up and somebody can sift through it," he said to one of the professors. "Don't you have a grad student?"
After surveying the room, Jeppson questioned whether there was anything worth unearthing. She said concrete visible in a corner appears to date to the 1930s, well after the space was built.
A city employee said the room will be capped this week, noting that the concrete slab can always be removed in the future.
- Tricia L. Nadolny