Three Hundred Years in Annapolis: Phase III Archaeological Investigations of the Anne Arundel County Courthouse Site (18AP63), Annapolis, Maryland
Aiello, Elizabeth A.
Seidel, John L.
Leone, Mark P.
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During the summer of 1994, Archaeology in Annapolis conducted archaeological investigations of the city block bounded by Franklin, South and Cathedral Streets in the city of Annapolis. This Phase III excavation was conducted as a means to identify subsurface cultural resources in the impact area associated with the proposed construction of the Anne Arundel County Courthouse addition. This impact area included both the upper and lower parking lots used by Courthouse employees. Investigations were conducted in the form of mechanical trenching and hand excavated units. Excavations in the upper lot area yielded significant information concerning the interior area of the block. Known as Bellis Court, this series of rowhouses was constructed in the late nineteenth century and was used as rental properties by African-Americans. The dwellings remained until the middle of the twentieth century when they were demolished in preparation for the construction of a Courthouse addition. Portions of the foundation of a house owned by William H. Bellis in the 1870s were also exposed in this area. Construction of this house was begun by William Nicholson around 1730 and completed by Daniel Dulany in 1732/33. It was demolished in 1896 by James Munroe, a Trustee for Bellis. Excavations in the upper lot also revealed the remains of a late seventeenth/early eighteenth century wood-lined cellar, believed to be part of the earliest known structure on Lot 58. After an initially rapid deposition of fill around 1828, this cellar was gradually covered with soil throughout the remainder of the nineteenth century. The fill deposit in the cellar feature yielded a mixed assemblage of artifacts that included sherds of early materials such as North Devon gravel-tempered earthenware, North Devon sgraffito and Northem Italian slipware, along with creamware, pearlware and whiteware. In the lower parking lot, numerous artifacts were recovered from yard scatter associated with the houses that at one time fronted along Cathedral Street and were occupied by African- Americans. An assemblage of late seventeenth century/early eighteenth century materials and several slag deposits from an early forge were recovered from this second area of study. The materials associated with the forge, including portions of a crucible, provided evidence of some of the earliest industry in Annapolis. Investigations in both the upper and lower parking lots added to the knowledge of the changing landscape within the project area, including a prevalence of open space in early periods, a surprising survival of impermanent structures, and a gradual regrading and filling of the block with houses and interior courts. Excavations at the Anne Arundel County Courthouse proved this to be a multi-component site, rich in cultural resources from Annapolis' Early Settlement Period through its Modern Period (as specified by Maryland's Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan (Weissman 1986)). This report provides detailed interpretations of the archaeological findings of these Phase III investigations.