Unit 20 Foundation

For the past three weeks I have been excavating unit 20 at the James Holliday House in Annapolis. We had been digging through a large layer of rubble and what seemed like construction debris that may have been discarded during the construction of the addition to the Holliday house in 1950. Our unit seemed to become increasingly smaller as we uncovered large rocks extending from the walls and two utility pipes. One pipe running from East to West, likely a sewer pipe, and another running North to South, which is possibly a gas pipe. Regardless of the obstacles we’ve continued excavating with the goal of reaching sterile soil before our last day in Annapolis, Friday the 17th.

Unit 20 fountation wall.

Unit 20 foundation wall. Source: Kate Deeley

On Thursday, the 16th, about 2.5 feet into the unit we discovered several large stones with shell tempered mortar. They were located in the North-West corner of the unit and created a backwards “L” shape, which suggests that they may be the remnants of a foundation. Inside this feature was a small round level of black soil, and another level of reddish sandy soil. Within these levels we found some fragments of ceramics, including pearlware. This dates the feature to the early 19th century. The large size of the stones suggests a substantial structure. There is no record of a building being there, although during the early 19th century it was uncommon for outbuildings of any kind to be indicated on property records. It is possible that this structure was demolished in order to create space for the addition in the 1950’s. It is difficult to determine whether or not these stones were in fact used as a foundation, though if they were then this discovery could help to reconstruct a more accurate depiction of the property of the Holliday family during the 19th century.


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