Halsey Street Methodist Episcopal Church and Cemetery and Neighboring Properties, Rutgers University Newark Honors Living-Learning Center
City of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey
In 2017 and 2018 Hunter Research carried out Phase I, II and III archaeological investigations at the site of the new Rutgers-Newark Honors Living-Learning Center in the City of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey. The project site consisted of most of a city block located within the James Street Commons Historic District and bounded by Halsey, New, Washington and Linden streets. This city block was home to the Halsey Street Methodist Episcopal Church and a number of houses. The central portion of the block had been used as a graveyard from around 1808-09 (when the Halsey Street Methodist Episcopal Church was founded) until at least the 1870s and then, more recently, from the late 1920s onward, as a parking lot. Background research revealed that 136 burials had been disinterred from the cemetery in 1926 to make way for the parking lot.
Phase I archaeological investigations encountered the partially articulated remains of at least four individuals, in addition to several empty grave shafts, all associated with the Halsey Street Methodist cemetery. Expanded Phase II archaeological fieldwork resulted in the identification of an additional 15 burials and over 40 empty grave shafts, as well as a number of other archaeological features, including house foundations, privies, cisterns, and drains, on the properties adjoining the cemetery. After Rutgers University pursued a court order for the exhumation of the human remains within the project site, Hunter Research developed and carried out a Phase III archaeological data recovery, during which nearly 300 burials were documented and removed. Basements, foundation walls and shaft features associated with the other properties on the block were also identified during the excavations.