The demolition of a condemned house in Middletown Township, Pennsylvania was halted when the crew uncovered a mysterious underground room. Reportedly, the demo crew was nearly finished with the job when they came upon a wall. James Thornton, who was working in the crew, told WHTM ABC 27, “We noticed a wall which fell. Nobody knew what it was, so me and another employee decided to take a peek inside.” Their exploration led them to find a hidden 60-foot-long brick room with a large curved vaulted ceiling, leading to a tunnel. Old bottles were also discovered within the chamber. The find has attracted curious visitors trying to get a look at the historic mystery.
Thornton said that members of the Middletown Historical Society thought that the room could have been used as part of the Underground Railroad. The demolition worker said, “To me, it just shows that it was a significant time and they had migrated and got off here.” Historians also think the room could have been a speakeasy during Prohibition. Robin Pellegrini, a Middletown Historical Society Trustee, said, “On the deed, it doesn't say, ‘D’ for dwelling, it says ‘SAL’ which he is thinking means saloon possibly, so there could've been a speakeasy in there.”
Dick Olszewski, contractor on the job, told The Patriot-News that the property owner had originally requested that the crew clear out “rubbish” on the land, but he has now decided to visit the site on Tuesday to determine how to proceed. Pelligrini told the outlet that this type of find is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to study history. She continued, saying that archaeological experts could examine what materials were used to make the bricks in the room and then determine when it was built. WPMT Fox 43 reports that the deed indicates the demolished building was constructed between 1870 and 1880.
Olszewski will meet with borough officials and the Historical Society to determine the next step in their demolition job.