Phase I-II Archaeological Investigations on the Courthouse Site (18AP63): An Historic African-American Neighborhood in Annapolis, Maryland

Thumbnail Image


AP63 1993.pdf (14.3 MB)
No. of downloads: 396

Publication or External Link







During the Summer and Fall of 1990, Archaeology in Annapolis conducted archaeological excavations at the Courthouse Site (18AP63), a multi-component historic site in Annapolis, Maryland. The testing area, which is now a parking lot, is a roughly triangular block bounded by Franklin, Cathedral, and South Streets in Annapolis' Historic District. A limited number of units restricted to three areas of the lot were permitted for this phase of the investigation. Excavations analyzed the archaeological integrity of the site and evaluated the age and diversity of archaeological deposits in the test areas. It is expected that the phase of excavations analyzed here will precede Phase III investigations in the areas of the lot which contain rich deposits. The excavation area's use during the colonial period is unknown, but undisturbed strata containing a light deposit of eighteenth-century artifacts were identified in the southeast corner of the testing area. The lot gradually became an African-American neighborhood after about 1850, and a large and diverse assemblage of nineteenth- and twentieth-century artifacts was recovered throughout the test area. Testing in the southwest corner of the block revealed filled basements and grading disturbance dating to the circa 1960s dismantling of the neighborhood. In some units, this disturbance mixed eighteenth- and nineteenth-century artifacts with modern refuse. A partially disturbed barrel privy dating to the late-nineteenth century was identified in this area of the site in the back of the home which was numbered 38 Doctor Street in 1903 (renumbered 68 Franklin Street circa 1910). The feature contained a small assemblage of 13 glass vessels, including an unusually high number of glass table vessels (ten). A unit placed in the back yard of 80 Franklin Street identified a circa 1921 dog burial. Testing revealed several areas worthy of rigorous excavation and indicated that artifacts have been discarded into the lot since about the mid-eighteenth century. The identification of several features associated with the African- American occupation of the block indicates that the site contains significant intact African-American deposits. These will provide a particularly important archaeological opportunity to examine the African-American material world between about 1850 and 1950. This report provides analyses of the site's stratigraphy and artifact assemblages and suggests promising strategies for subsequent archaeology of the site.