The CAP Summer Season So Far

The summer field season has started out pretty busy this year. During our first day of monitoring the fourth phase of the North Campus Infrastructure Improvements, we received a call from Granger regarding some bricks that were found by the Museum. They were beginning to open up a large pit to remove and replace a steam tunnel junction underneath the Museum’s West Circle parking lot. The bricks were covered by a layer of concrete and remained insitu, mortar and all. Nearby this feature we found a large amount of concrete, brick, stone, and metal rubble. We did a quick rescue to record and learn what we could from the find as it had to be removed to progress the steam replacement.

Remaining foundation of Williams Hall
Remaining foundation of Williams Hall

I spent some time before construction began making some maps of the affected area using overlays with historic maps of the area and the locations of current buildings, sidewalks, and roads. Based on the maps I made, we are pretty sure the wall and rubble we found near the Museum was part of Williams Hall, which burned down in 1919.

Map overlay with 1915 buildings
Map overlay with 1915 buildings

Following the Williams Hall discovery, we continued to monitor by the Museum as well as the pulling up of the parking lot in front of and the sidewalks around Olds Hall. We also dug some test pits in the green space to the east of Olds Hall as well as underneath the parking lot located between Olds Hall and the Main Library. Neither of the surveys revealed anything of concern, although we began finding brick, cement, glass, nails, and other metal underneath the sidewalks around Olds Hall.

A couple of days following the Williams Hall discovery, a series of bricks that looked like a corner was found while we were digging shovel test pits underneath some of the sidewalks by Olds Hall. We opened the area up a bit and realized that the bricks were still arranged like a wall with an ash-heavy soil on one side that was full of nails, metal, and glass. There was also a large amount of loose bricks, mortared-stone, and cement around the wall. We dug down on the other side to find that after a few courses, the bricks stop at a layer of cement that continued into the bottom of our unit. We also chased the wall to either end until we found where the bricks stopped. After cleaning up and documenting, as well as consulting the maps I made, we believe it was a wall from the old engineering shops that burned down with the original engineering building.

We started the second week of the summer off right with some grilled cheeses from the MSU Dairy Store! We are currently working in the lab to finish up accessioning and cataloging artifacts from last summer and those we have from this summer so far. We are also continuing to monitor the steam tunnel construction and will keep you posted of any further developments!

Author: Josh Schnell



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