Author: Lisa Bright

If the Shoe Fits: Understanding Changing Fashion Through Footwear

If the Shoe Fits: Understanding Changing Fashion Through Footwear

It may seem unusual to dig up a pair of shoes, yet shoes are not totally uncommon on archaeological excavations. Just last week a report from Northumberland, England announced a find of more than 400 shoes discovered at the Roman fort of Vindolanda. Typically the entire…

Excavating behind Old Hort

Excavating behind Old Hort

We had a busy summer here at CAP. We were able to excavate at some interesting and important places such as the Abbott Entrance and Beals first botanical lab. Our last project area for the summer was behind the Old Horticulture building on north campus. IPF…

Station Terrace: A Building with Many Identities

Station Terrace: A Building with Many Identities

This summer we had the opportunity to excavate in several different areas of north campus. We began the summer working in conjunction with the Abbot entrance landscape rejuvenation project. This required us to survey down the center median, as well as either side of the road. I talked briefly before about the general history of this area, as well as a summer progress update. We were able to locate the basement of Station Terrace.

Chances are you’ve never heard of Station Terrace. The building stood just east of Faculty Row, near the southern end of the current Abbott entrance median. There’s not much information out there regarding the building, but we do know that it had many different identities during its life on campus.

Station Terrace - Photo courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections
Station Terrace – Photo courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

Station Terrace was likely built during the 1880s or early 1890s (the earliest photo documenting the building is from 1896). Its original purpose was to provide housing for researchers visiting from the M.A.C. experimental stations. Later it was used to house bachelor instructors, earning its nickname the Bull Pen (perhaps also acquired as a counterpoint to Morill Hall’s nickname the Hen House).

Group of Subfaculty at Station Terrace - Photo courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections
Group of Subfaculty at Station Terrace – Photo courtesy of MSU Archives & Historical Collections

During the evening of January 24th, 1903 the building was damaged by a fire started by a faulty chimney. There were several issues in the containment of the fire, including many of the volunteer fire fighters being at a society room party, lacking the proper wrench to screw into the closest hydrant, a frozen fire hydrant, and a burst water main. They eventually got the blaze under control, but substantial damage occurred to the west end of the building. However, it was recommended that the building (as well as other areas on campus) become outfitted with modern fire extinguishers and hand grenades.

Following the fire, some board members suggests remodeling the building, and changing it into a two family household. They went as far as to have the college architect prepare a sketch for the remodeling, but ultimately decided that they would derive more revenue and benefit from restoring the building to its former state with several apartments.

Between the spring of 1903 and 1923 the building housed the East Lansing post office. Because of this Station Terrace is often referred to as the old post office on maps and in historical documents. In 1902 after the demolition of the original trolley car waiting room, it was moved to Station Terrace. In 1921 the old college waiting room was taken over by the Flower Pot Tea Room, a café run by women in the home economics program.

Station Terrace Today - Images via Google Street view
Station Terrace Today – Images via Google Street view

Station Terrace, as well as several other buildings, were in the path of the Abbot Road entrance construction. However, the building was not demolished. In 1923-1924 it was moved off campus, to 291 Durand Street. The structure was also modified, and portions of the building were used to build the house next door. From the right angle, it still bears a slight resemblance to its former arrangement.

Because the building was physically moved off campus, and not demolished, collapsed, or burnt down like many other buildings we excavate, I was unsure what we would actually find. I was pleasantly surprised.

During our final row of STPs we encountered a large fieldstone at the depth of 1m. This unit was expanded, and expanded, and then expanded some more. We had located an interior dividing wall, in what I feel is the basement of Station Terrace. Further excavations revealed a concrete floor, water and sewage pipes, concentrations of sheet metal, an intact paste jar (more on this jar coming in a future blog!), and a pair of men’s shoes. The east side of the unit also contained some beautiful stratigraphy.

Station Terrace Excavation East Wall
Station Terrace Excavation East Wall
Station Terrace Stone Wall
Station Terrace Stone Wall
Sanford Library Paste Bottle from excavation
Sanford Library Paste Bottle from excavation

I’m still busy conducting more research on this location, and its possible suitability as a location for the next field school.

Sources:

http://kevinforsyth.net/ELMI/sources.htm#JK

Justin L. Kestenbaum, ed. At the Campus Gate: A History of East Lansing. 1976.

Detroit Free Press, November 19th 1922: M.A.C. to Beautify College Entrance

Board of Trustee Meeting Minutes Notes: 1903.

M.A.C. Record vol 27 no 26 April 21 1922: http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/1-4-1004/the-mac-record-vol27-no26-april-21-1922/

MSU Archives: Campus Post Office 1892-1911. Folder 94, Box 826 Collection UA4.9.1

Meet the 2016-2017 CAP Fellows

Meet the 2016-2017 CAP Fellows

It’s that time again, meet the 2016-2017 CAP fellows.  We’re excited to get to work on a batch of new projects this year, under the guidance of CAP director Dr. Lynne Goldstein. Lisa Bright: Lisa is a third year PhD student in Anthropology, returning for her…

Meet Dr. Heather Walder

Meet Dr. Heather Walder

Dr. Heather Walder, a Visiting Assistant Professor for 2016-2017, will be joining the Campus Archaeology team this fall. She is an anthropological archaeologist researching exchange, migration, and identity in past situations of colonialism and intercultural interaction. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin –…

Day of Archaeology: A BUSY SUMMER FOR MSU CAMPUS ARCHAEOLOGY

Day of Archaeology: A BUSY SUMMER FOR MSU CAMPUS ARCHAEOLOGY

Day of archaeology

Today is the 2016 Day of Archaeology.  The goal of the Day of Archaeology project is to provide a window into the varied lives of archaeologists around the world.  You can see our contribution at: http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/summer-msu-campus-archaeology/

Head on over and check it out.  You can browse all of the posts, or view by theme such as Historical Archaeology, or Digital Archaeology.

CAP Summer Work Update #2

CAP Summer Work Update #2

Since we last checked in we’ve had a busy week and a half.  The Abbot entrance landscape rejuvenation project is coming to a close, so we’ve been able to finish work there and move onto testing other research questions. U.S. Weather Bureau  Although the rejuvenation construction…

Campus Archaeology Summer Work Update #1

Campus Archaeology Summer Work Update #1

Spring classes have ended, thousands of people have graduated, and a relative calm has spread over the campus. While many people kick back and relax over their summer vacation, this is the busy season for us here at CAP. During the summer we’re busy excavating,…

CAP at Munsell!

CAP at Munsell!

This past Monday CAP had the opportunity to tour the Munsell facility. A few months ago we realized that Munsell headquarters were a mere hour drive from campus. Katy reached out to their organization, and shortly after our tour was on the books! To say that the CAP fellows and Dr. Goldstein were excited is an understatement. Munsell holds a special place in an archaeologists’ heart. Every field school student learns how to use the Munsell soil color book, and undoubtedly Munsell is present in most archaeology labs, departments and firms around the country.

Professor Albert Munsell
Professor Albert Munsell

Munsell color systems, now a division of Xrite, are used by a wide array of industries. Although archaeologists tend to stick to the soil color and bead book, Munsell produces a variety of products and color standards. Our tour was headed by Art Schmehling, the Munsell business manager. We began with a short history of the Munsell color system.

Professor Albert H. Munsell developed his color system to bring order and standardization of colors to the artistic and scientific communities. As the story goes, Professor Munsell was describing an apple to an artist friend in Australia. The friend asked what specific color of red Munsell meant regarding the apple. As anyone that has tried to describe a paint color, or had debates regarding what shade of blue a shirt may be, it’s obvious that without a standard reference people describe colors very differently.

Munsell was determined to standardize the study and description of color by dividing colors into its’ three-dimensional attributes of hue, value and chroma. Munsell’s ground-breaking addition was the incorporation of the chroma scale. Chroma can be thought of as color purity. The addition of this to hue and value allowed colors to be systematically illustrated in three-dimensional space. Munsell published his first color order system book (A Color Notation) in 1905, and first published the Munsell Atlas of Color in 1915. This 1915 publication is the predecessor to today’s Munsell Books of Color.

Munsell Color System: Image Source
Munsell Color System: Image Source

We were able to see the latest version of the Munsell soil book, and the oohs and ahhhs were universal. The Munsell soil books are built to last, so many archaeologists work with older versions (Dr. Goldstein informed Art that she still has the one she purchased in 1969). When a new version of the soil book is produced, a staff member brings it home and runs it through their dishwasher to test the durability of the pages! The new book cover was originally designed to be brown, but after some testing it was discovered that it was too easily lost in the dirt/forest. As any archaeologists can attest it’s easy to lose something brown (like your trowel!) in a back dirt pile.

Munsell Soil Color Book
Munsell Soil Color Book

Before beginning the walking tour, we were also able to see several of the other products Munsell produces, including the large matte and gloss color books, Color Vision Tests, and X-Rite ColorChecker®. The X-Rite ColorChecker® is used by photographers to create a reference to ensure predictable colors standards under every lighting condition. It’s thought to be the most photographed object in the world! They make the ColorChecker® in every size imaginable, from 20 millimeters in diameter (for botanists), to hundreds of yards (for satellite images)! The Color Vision Tests are used by multiple industries to test for color blindness and vision anomalies.

XRite Color Checker
XRite Color Checker

Munsell also works with industries and corporations to create color standards for their products (like creating the specific shade of yellow for Kodak film boxes, or the blue used on Black & Decker tools). They’ve created color-matching pages for everything from cheese to french fries. Munsell has even been in space! They worked closely with Nasa to create a color check system that astronauts use to detect rocket fuel on their spacesuits after space walks.

Munsell in Space
Munsell in Space

We were able to view the color mixing room, and see some purple being printed. The process of creating the colors is an exact science, and many standards are taken to ensure continuity of each product. Each of the color systems, and the history of their changes, are kept in the records area. We of course took pictures with the 10 Y/R row.

Color being printed
Color being printed
10 Y/R Row!
10 Y/R Row!

CAP had an excellent time at Munsell, and we extend our gratitude to the individuals at Xrite for taking the time to meet with us. We learned many fascinating things, and look forward to continue working with Munsell in the future.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munsell_color_system

http://munsell.com

 

 

Ding Ding Ding Went the Trolley: Finding the Campus Streetcar Line

Ding Ding Ding Went the Trolley: Finding the Campus Streetcar Line

With the semester almost over that can mean only one thing for CAP, the impending start of summer campus construction. Although there isn’t anything scheduled as large and complex as the steam tunnel renovation project that has engulfed north campus past few years, there is…