The Many Faces of Cowles House, MSU’s Oldest Building

This summer, Cowles House, MSU’s oldest standing building, is due to get a facelift. As part of this remodeling, crews will remove a few trees from around and inside the building and expand the west wing.  In preparation for this work, I have been researching the history of this building, as well as what previous CAP excavations have recovered in the area.

Completed in 1857, Cowles House was one of four homes built to house the earliest faculty members and administrators of MSU.  Some of the most prominent individuals in MSU’s history, such as Williams, Abbot, Beal, Bessey, Hannah, and McPherson, all lived in this house during their tenure at the college (Brock 2009; Kuhn 1955).  From 1857-1874, Cowles House served as the residence of the college president.  After 1874, Cowles House, then known as Faculty Row No. 7, functioned as the home of the professor of Botany (Beal 1915:35, 267;

A View of Cowles House ca. 1920

A View of Cowles House ca. 1920. Image Source.

During these early decades, Cowles house was not only a place of residence, but was also a hub of campus entertainment. Early on, no organized social life existed on MSU’s campus.  Students instead gravitated towards faculty homes, where faculty and staff would regularly host small get-togethers (Kuhn 1955:127). The Abbot’s, who lived in Cowles House during their time at the college, frequently invited students and guests into their home. As documented by Kuhn, Abbot had students come to his home weekly to read and discuss literature.  They also entertained on the weekends: “On Saturday nights the Abbot home was open to students; twenty or thirty would gather about the fire to eat apples and to talk of politics, of ethics, and of literature” (Kuhn 1955:90).

By the early 1900s, Cowles House had been repurposed to serve a broader function.  On a 1927 map of campus (MSU archives:, Cowles House is labeled as “Secretary’s House,” indicating a switch from residential space to a more administrative one.  I have not been able to discover more about what this label entails, such as if the house was entirely office space during this time, but it is clear that the space was no longer reserved for faculty use.

In 1941, under the Hannah administration, Cowles House once again became the home of the president of the university.  As such, the building underwent major renovations after the end of World War II, during which much of the building was rebuilt and a new wing was added to the west end (Kuhn 1955:402).  Recently, Cowles House has functioned as an entertainment and banquet space, as recent presidents have decided to live off campus (Brock 2009).

A View of Cowles House Today

A View of Cowles House Today. Image source

Artifacts from south of Cowles House, Shovel Test Pit G1

Artifacts from south of Cowles House, Shovel Test Pit G1

Cowles House has been of great interest to Campus Archaeology due to its location within the Sacred Space.  As little has changed in this part of campus, this area has the potential for preserving intact archaeological deposits from the earliest days of campus.  CAP has conducted numerous surveys around the building, including in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2014 (CAP Reports 7, 11, and 15), but we are yet to find any clear features or concentrations of materials. Instead, only a diffuse scatter of artifacts has been found around the building. Brick fragments, window glass, nails, and other construction debris are the most common objects found, while a few ceramic sherds, animal bones, bottle glass, and two golf balls have also been recovered. In general, this record is likely the result of construction and remodeling episodes, mixed in with trash from everyday life.  While CAP has tested extensively around the building, we have not investigated every area, and plan to survey and monitor intently as renovations take place this summer.  We are always on the look-out for that rare deposit that can provide us insights into the lives of the early MSU faculty and presidents!

References Cited

Beal, W.J.
1915   History of the Michigan Agricultural College and Biographical Sketches of Trustees and Professors.  Michigan Agricultural College, East Lansing

Brock, Terry
2009   “Survey Spot: Cowles House”  Blog posted on CAP website, Sept. 9, 2009.

CAP Report 7
2009   Music Building and Cowles House Survey.  Campus Archaeology Program.

CAP Report 11
2011   Walter Adams Field Survey: Archaeological Report.  Campus Archaeology Program.

CAP Report 15
2012   West Circle Steam I Survey: Archaeological Report.  Campus Archaeology Program.

Kuhn, Madison
1955   Michigan State: The First Hundred Years.  The Michigan State University Press, East Lansing.

MSU Archives and Historical Collections:

Gone but Not Forgotten: Campus Buildings that No Longer Exist.  Online Exhibit.

Map of MSU Campus and Buildings, 1927.

How to Prepare for a Summer of Construction on MSU’s Campus

As all MSU students, professors, and staff know, MSU is continually improving their roads, sidewalks, sporting fields, etc. Each spring through fall, MSU’s campus is scattered with constructions sites with the goal of bettering the physical campus environment. While this activity is very visible, there is much that goes on behind the scenes. Multiple parties are involved in the planning stages, including the Campus Archaeology Program. In order to achieve our goal of preserving the cultural heritage of MSU, we must understand where construction will take place, what kind of work will be done, and then generate our own plans for mitigating any possible damage to archaeological sites.

CAP surveying during sidewalk construction

CAP surveying during sidewalk construction

So how does this all work?

Throughout the year, MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities (IPF) ( is working on construction plans and creating maps and documents for each change. (See the IPF website to read more about their project phases: CAP comes into the picture around the ‘Construction Documents’ phase, when we can meet with staff at IPF and go over the upcoming planned construction.

I personally attended my very first meeting with IPF this past week, alongside Dr. Goldstein, Dr. Camp, and Lisa Bright, where I was able to learn about the upcoming construction this summer and see all of the incredibly detailed plan maps that have been created for each project! At this meeting, we discussed construction that will begin in April on the Service Road soccer field and in May along Wilson Road. There are so many advantages to meeting with the employees at IPF, including seeing the great detail within their plan maps. These maps allow us to determine what type of archaeological survey needs to be conducted before they begin construction, as well as how CAP should approach monitoring the work once it has begun. At this meeting we also discussed their timeline for the construction projects, as well as when it would be best for us to conduct our survey of the impacted areas. It was a great experience, and taught me a great deal about the extensive planning that takes place within our collaboration with IPF.

Now that we have met with IPF and have determined where on campus construction could impact archaeological sites, CAP must determine our survey methods for these projects. Currently, our plan stands as follows: as soon as the snow melts and the ground thaws a little (hopefully in early April), CAP will begin to survey, using a grid of shovel test pits, within the Service Road soccer field. During this survey, we will record and collect any archaeological evidence recovered. Once our survey is complete and construction begins, CAP fellows and summer field crew employees will then monitor the work for any further evidence of archaeological sites or artifacts that may have been outside of the initial survey.

In addition to surveying and monitoring, CAP also conducts archival research prior to construction projects, combing the written record for documents related to historic MSU campus in the areas of impact.

The combination of archaeological survey, monitoring construction, and archival research will ensure that we are doing everything that we can to protect MSU’s archaeological heritage! Keep a look out for us on campus!

Excavation of West Circle privy in the construction zone

Summer Field Crew Update: Wilson Road Realignment

For much of this summer the CAP field crew was busy surveying the area surrounding the East neighborhood (Akers, Fee, Hubbard, Conrad).  Beginning in March 2018 Wilson road will be altered, creating an additional exit onto Hagadorn, a traffic light on Shaw, as well as additional parking.

Wilson road extension planning. Image source

Wilson road extension planning. Image source.

The areas highlighted in green will all be changed/impacted by the construction. CAP had not previously excavated in this area so we were excited to see what was there.

Closeup from Michigan State University Land Acquisition map c. 1966. Source: MSU

Closeup from Michigan State University Land Acquisition map c. 1966. Source: MSU Library

Historically this area was part of the Biebesheimer farm.  The Biebesheimer family lived in the Ingham county area since the late 1860s (Adams 1923:379). A majority of the farm was sold to Michigan Agricultural College in 1925. However, the Biebesheimer and Roney (Mary Biebesheimer’s married name was Roney) families retained a portion of the original farm until the 1950’s. During the years the family owned/worked this farm land they uncovered several important prehistoric and contact era archaeological artifacts. The artifacts have been donated to the MSU museum and are housed in the Paul S. Roney collection.

The construction of the river trail neighborhood (McDonel, Owen, Shaw, Van Hoosen) and east neighborhood began in the mid 1960s (although the grouping of these buildings into neighborhoods is a much more recent university initiative).  So although these buildings, roads, and parking lots of a much more recent timeframe than the areas of campus we are typically called upon to investigate, it is important to remember that we are also charged with preserving and documenting the entire history of the area. So we set out to determine if anything prior to the campus development remained undisturbed. We were looking for signs of both the farm and prehistoric sites.

So we conducted a survey and excavated shovel test pits along the entire green highlighted area in the above map. A shovel test pit is a hole, typically dug by a shovel, that is roughly 2 times the width of the shovel head with a goal of a 1 meter depth.

CAP field crew excavates shovel test pits in IM East field.

CAP field crew excavates shovel test pits in IM East field.

Jeff and Autumn Painter document a shovel test pit in the IM East field along Wilson road.

Jeff and Autumn Painter document a shovel test pit in the IM East field along Wilson road.

Jeff and Autumn Painter excavate a test pit in front of Conrad Hall.

Jeff and Autumn Painter excavate a test pit in front of Conrad Hall.

Becca Albert and Jasmine Smith excavate a test pit in the Vet Med field.

Becca Albert and Jasmine Smith excavate a test pit in the Vet Med field.









The field crew excavate test pits in the IM East field.

The field crew excavate test pits in the IM East field.

Autumn and Jeff Painter excavate a test pit between lot 32 and the tennis courts.

Autumn and Jeff Painter excavate a test pit between lot 32 and the tennis courts.









The field crew dug 312 shovel test pits for the Wilson road realignment.  Unfortunately much of the area was comprised of highly compact soil, resulting in some difficult conditions for the field crew.  Additionally, only 90 of the test pits had any cultural material (artifacts).  Most of which were recent objects near the top third of the test pit.  The most surprising elements were probably the animals the crew encountered.

A pesky woodchuck infiltrates the field site.

A pesky woodchuck infiltrates the field site.

Autumn Painter got to meet a horse being treated by the MSU Large Animal Clinic.

Autumn Painter got to meet a horse being treated by the MSU Large Animal Clinic.









What these weeks of hard work tell us is that the area is highly disturbed.  Any intact deposits are likely much deeper than we could get with the test pits.  It’s also important to remember that the absence of artifacts also tells the specific story of that area.  Once construction begins in March 2018 we will monitor the parking lot and road demolition, and likely excavate additional test pits once the ground surfaces have been removed.



Adams, Franc L. Pioneer History of Ingham County Volume 1 Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Company: Lansing Michigan. 1923




Digging Underneath the River Trail

CAP took the last two weeks off of work due to the holiday and a lack of major construction needing our presence as we prepared to start the major accessioning project we are currently working on. However, at the tail end of last week, we were called out to do some survey underneath the bike lanes alongside the south side of the River Trail between Wells Hall and Erickson Hall.

Newly renovated River Trail sidewalks. Photo courtesy Nikki Silva

Newly renovated River Trail sidewalks.

The bike lanes were pulled up in preparation for a renovation of the river trail on the south side from the Sparty Statue all the way to Erickson Hall and Farm Lane. If you haven’t been on the trail recently, I hope you’ll be surprised to see a completely re-done trail with newly laid ‘green’ sidewalks and a smoother bike path running adjacent to the sidewalk! There are even ‘No Pedestrian’ signs painted into the bike path! This was all in an effort to streamline traffic south of the river where renovations were much needed; the gradient of the trail was also re-worked so as to reduce flooding throughout the year.

The area alongside the Red Cedar River has been a high activity area historically, and prehistorically. Native American groups often utilized the natural resources of the river, and CAP has found evidence for prehistoric occupation. From around 1900 to 1925, the era of campus history that CAP refers to as the Expansion Period, the area alongside the river became a focal point of campus. Several campus activities revolved around the river, including Homecoming floats which were sent down the river. Additionally, there are numerous pictures in the archives of students canoeing down the river and lounging by the riverside.

Red Cedar tug of war- rivalry between freshman and sophomores, 1913. Courtesy MSU Archives

Red Cedar tug of war- rivalry between freshman and sophomores, 1913. Courtesy MSU Archives

With this information in mind, we knew that systemically shovel testing the River Trail could tell us more about the historical use of the river. As the old trail was being pulled up we put in a shovel test pit every 10 meters from Wells Hall all the way down to Erickson Hall. Unfortunately,  the survey wasn’t altogether super interesting, we found some nails and glass as usual. But towards the end of the day when we got down by Erickson Hall, we found a small piece of decorated transfer print whiteware and in another test pit we found an unusual number of nails, a rusted metal water pipe, and some engraved masonry. The increase in artifacts at Erickson Hall makes sense, because of the proximity to the Farm Lane Bridge. That Farm Lane Bridge is one of the oldest on campus (obviously the bridge itself isn’t original, but the location of the crossing is) therefore it is logical that artifacts would be more prevalent closer to a water crossing. Additionally, the riverbank closer to Wells Hall shows evidence of modification, which was most likely done to prevent flooding.

We look forward to more River Trail renovations so we can discover more about MSU’s use of the Red Cedar.

Auditorium Plaza Debrief

Recently, a construction project began in the small plaza between the MSU Auditorium and the Kresge Art Center, which meant that we Campus Archaeologists got to go in first and see what (if any) historic materials were hidden beneath the topsoil. The plaza is an unassuming space really, and without much in the way of benches, shade, or activity space,  the little grass and concrete clearing doesn’t receive much foot traffic despite facing the relatively busy auditorium road sidewalk. As such, one of the goals of the construction project is to rebuild the plaza into a more comfortable and habitable outdoor space.

Kresge Art Center 1959, courtesy MSU Archives

Kresge Art Center 1959, courtesy MSU Archives

With the construction of the MSU Auditorium in 1940, and the later opening of the Kresge Art Center/Museum nearly two decades later in 1959, the Auditorium Plaza was created. As such, while the plaza has not had as substantial of a history as other parts of MSU, its location in the older section of campus maintains the possibility that this construction project will disturb cultural materials from the earlier period of campus history, necessitating that we survey the area prior to its disturbance.

With a large portion of the plaza covered by concrete sidewalk however, we needed to wait until the construction crew had used their excavators and backhoes to break up and haul out the massive pieces of pavement. Once we were able to get to work though, we quickly found that our test pits were coming up empty. As we shovel-tested the area by digging 40-60cm deep holes in a 5 x 5 m grid, one after another each successive pit was turning up nothing.

Auditorium C. 1950, courtesy MSU Archives

Auditorium C. 1950, courtesy MSU Archives

Aside from a sparse few nails (both modern and historic), pieces of brick, and a fragment of ceramic electrical conduit, the whole plaza seemed largely devoid of any cultural materials. Supporting the theory that the plaza was most likely highly modified before construction, wiping away all previous occupation/use debris. The plaza had several tiers, indicating the space was built, and rebuilt, leaving no original stratigraphy. With this in mind, the construction crews were able to proceed with their work to renovate the plaza knowing that they would not unknowingly damage any historic materials. When the project is finished and if these renovations are successful such that the space becomes more heavily used, who knows what future generations of MSU students will leave in the plaza’s archaeological record.

Also, with the 4th of July holiday coming up, take a look at this picture of an MSU student taking part in her hometown independence day parade C. 1949 that we found in the MSU online archives.

Summer CAP Crew

Meet the summer CAP crew.

Ian Harrison

As the summer field season begins, I would just like to introduce myself as one of the undergraduate campus archaeologists. I am dual majored in Anthropology and Geography, and am going into my final year here at MSU.  While taking summer classes on campus, the CAP program wound up being the perfect fit for me to be able to simultaneously take classes while still being able to stay involved with archaeology (ie. not missing a field season and learning more than I ever thought I could about our campus’ history to boot). Otherwise, I am looking at graduate programs in underwater and Mediterranean archaeology that will ideally land me somewhere off the coast of Southern Europe searching for sunken bronze and iron age shipwrecks in another 4-8 years, but, one step at a time. I have already greatly enjoyed this summer in the field on campus thus far, and look forward to spending the rest of the summer with everyone.


Bethany Slon

As a recent graduate of MSU, I am happy to say that I will be working with CAP for one last summer before leaving East Lansing. I started working with Campus Archaeology in the summer of 2012 as a volunteer, and the following fall semester I began work as an intern under the direction of Dr. Goldstein and Kay Meyers. My research involved looking at the early years of the Women’s Building (later called Morrill Hall) and gathering information about the first female students who lived in this dorm. I presented this information at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum, linking it to Campus Archaeology and what the demolition of Morrill Hall meant to us. I’ll be working with the CAP summer team until July, and ten I’ll be leaving for a six month stay in Mexico, in which I’ll be assisting in an excavation outside of Mexico City. Additionally, I have hopes of someday using what I’ve learned from my experiences to continue my research of the ancient Maya in a bioarchaeology graduate program. Archaeology has always been a passion of mine, and I am lucky to have found this experience with Campus Archaeology, both to broaden my skills as an archaeologist and to do what I love.


Caroline Dunham

I am unusual here in the Campus Archaeology crew in that I am not an anthropology student, or even an MSU student. I am a student in LCC’s paralegal program, but archaeology is a big interest of mine. I also have been doing it since I was a kid because my dad is Dr. Sean Dunham, a recent Ph.D. grad from MSU’s Department of Anthropology. This is my second year of working with CAP; my first was in 2012.  I have also worked on numerous Cultural Resource Management (CRM) projects through CCRG. After I get my associates degree, I am considering either law school or an anthropology degree.


Josh Schnell

I just finished my sophomore year at MSU as an undergraduate Anthropology student with an additional Religious Studies major. I have been working with Campus Archaeology since February of 2013 when I began an internship learning how to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software in an archaeological context. This my second summer working as a member of the Campus Archaeology summer team. This past year, I expanded my GIS experience and skills and presented the results of a GIS-based project investigating MSU’s Sacred Space at UURAF in the spring. This summer, we are looking to further expand CAP’s GIS work in a series of map overlays that will enhance our pre-digging research. I eventually want to be a bioarchaeologist working with the ancient Maya. My desire to become an archaeologist was actually fueled by my fascination with the ancient Maya sparked by a freshman year World History class. I am particularly interested in ritual and how it is expressed on the landscape and in power systems with an emphasis on mortuary contexts. I was recently awarded an assistantship next year for a research project under the direction of Dr. Goldstien that will allow me to further investigate these topics. I hope that this summer with CAP will give me another opportunity to further develop my field skills.

Diggin’ Up Munn Field

It’s week three of our summer CAP work, and we’ve spent it digging test pits at Munn Field. I’ll admit, I was a little jealous that I missed out on the cool Vet Lab find two weeks ago, but now I’m finally back working with CAP, and Munn Field has offered us some interesting finds.

Munn Field is the designated spot for Sparticipation, the beginning-of-the-year gathering meant for new freshman to find on-campus groups and clubs to join. Of course, once a year you can find enthusiastic Spartan basketball fans grouped together at Munn Field for the Izzone Campout.

Students camping at Munn Field for Izzone tickets. photo

Students camping at Munn Field for Izzone tickets. photo. Image source

However, most of us think of Munn Field as a central area for football tailgating. Located right next to Spartan Stadium, it’s the perfect place for Spartans to park their cars, set up their crockpots and grills, and throw around a football.

With this in mind, we started digging with the anticipation that we would find a varied collection of bottle caps (what’s tailgating without beverages?) but surprisingly, we’ve found very little. I found one bottle cap on the surface, and Kate happened upon six caps of the same brand, all in the same spot (six pack?). Some modern nails have been dug up, along with a couple of plastic bottle caps, as was expected.

Quonset village 1950, near Munn Field. Courtesy MSU Archives

Quonset village 1950, near Munn Field. Courtesy MSU Archives

While no permanent building has been erected on the surface of Munn Field, it has been used in the past for temporary buildings. In the earlier years of the college, barns had been built to house some of the school’s animals, including sheep and horses, but those barns no longer stand. Ian and I found a plank of wood about 30 cm deep, which we at first thought may have been a remainder of one of the barns. However, we compared the location of the plank find to where the barns used to stand, and the two areas of the field don’t match up. Right now it’s a mystery as to what the plank of wood had been used for, but perhaps with more research we’ll find out more.

Munn Field was also used to house married students in the temporary quonset villages built after WWII. These buildings no longer stand. Because of its use as housing, we hope to find habitation debris while digging this week. What was life like in a quonset village?

The CAP team spent some time at the MSU archives looking at aerial photos of the campus throughout the years, and it is clear that Munn Field changes in use, from a marching field for ROTC cadets in the 30s, to quonset villages in the 50s, to tailgating in the 60s.

Munn Field aerial photo from 1930s

Munn Field aerial photo from 1930s courtesy MSU Archives

Munn Field aerial photo from 1940s

Munn Field aerial photo from 1940s courtesy MSU Archives










Munn Field aerial photo from 1950s

Munn Field aerial photo from 1950s courtesy MSU Archives

Munn Field aerial photo from 1960s courtesy MSU Archives

Munn Field aerial photo from 1960s courtesy MSU Archives











We’ll continue to dig at Munn Field this week, so if you’re walking by be sure to say hello!

The Final Morrill Hall Survey

It is fall 1900 and you are eagerly awaiting your first steps into your new home.  Like many freshman you are nervous, anxious, and ready to taste some independence.  You join the other 59 female students, and as you enter the brand new red sandstone dormitory just for women- The Women’s Building- you are not just taking a few step forward for yourself but also for women of your time.  This is a monumental day in your life and a substantial sign of the turn of the century changes, which led to more opportunities for women.   This red sandstone structure represents a home, a change, and a new century.

Morrill Hall in 1900, via MSU Archives and Historical Records

Morrill Hall in 1900, via MSU Archives and Historical Records

At Campus Archaeology this summer we monitored the demolition of this extraordinary piece of both MSU’s and America’s history. In May asbestos was abated, furniture was removed, windows were taken out, bricks went up for sale, and the building was picked apart and eventually all the remains were removed over two months of demolition work. Over June, the building was slowly torn down. Everyday, Campus Archaeology documented the process of the demolition. Portions of the building were torn down from west to east, leaving the Gothic inspired front stair and columns until the very end. A monument of campus was gone. (You can follow our demolition photos on our Flickr page).

The Final Days of Morrill Hall, only the front remains, via Katy Meyers

The Final Days of Morrill Hall, only the front remains, via Katy Meyers

Shortly after the removal of debris from the area the campus archaeology team members surveyed the area of removed sidewalks for finds.  There were no artifacts recovered from this area and in fact all of the shovel test pits brought up what we refer to as fill, a orange colored sand that is use to fill in areas after construction.

In this area there is a high amount of sewer lines explaining this area of unnatural soil.  Furthermore, the area that was tested by our crew was at the front of the building.  A lack of finds in this area reflects how the fronts of campus buildings act as a showcase for the school and are therefore well kept.  Litter which leads to the types of archaeological finds around campus sidewalks, was likely quickly picked up and not in the archaeological record.

Surveying at Morrill Hall, via Katie Scharra

Surveying at Morrill Hall, via Katie Scharra

Over 110 years have altered the importance and meaning of this building.  It now over the course of this summer has been demolished. The dilapidated red sandstone building was rumored to have been home to cockroaches and bats in the time before it was torn down due to safety issues.  Morrill Hall the building that was once The Women’s Building hardly holds onto the memory of an era of change that it once represented.

Currently the site is being cleared and rebuilt, new winding sidewalks making their way through the rubble, and once again renewing the historical social significance the building had.   A walk will replicate the central hallway of the building, while a sitting area of red sandstone will mark what was the entrance to the building.  Finally, a plaque will stand at the site to describe the plaza’s significance.  A whole new era of Spartans will be able to experience the memory of change the Morrill Hall represented.

Works Cited

Gilchrist, Maude. MAC Catalogue 1899-1900. The first three decades of home economics at Michigan state college 1896- 1926.

Summer Archaeology Update

The last two weeks began our first official start to summer survey and excavation.  We have lots of projects this summer to juggle, so we will be bouncing around campus trying to get to them all. Here are some updates from the work we did last week and a couple announcements about where we will be this week.

2013-05-07 10.50.34

Bethany and Josh doing some survey at Jenison Field House last week

Two Weeks Ago: Jenison Field House

During this first week of summer survey we did shovel testing in the green areas to the north and west of Jenison field house. We also did a quick walking survey along the river to check for artifacts.

Last Week: Training for New Peoples, Jenison Field House, Adams Field Sidewalks and Training for FRIB

Our week began with a training day for all the new workers, other then myself we have a completely new team from the one we had last year. Our new team includes two undergraduate students, a graduate student and alumni of the Anthropology department. We did a historic tour of campus and visited each of the construction sites we will be working on this summer. Following this, we discussed the summer and went other the proper methods for doing Campus Archaeology summer work.

The work began at Jenison Field House. They are replacing the parking lot and sidewalks here, but we only need to survey the latter. In preparation for this we did some survey around the area, checking out the green space between the sidewalks. We didn’t find anything exciting but we did get interviewed by Channel 10 news!

Bethany and Katie shovel testing at Adams Field

Bethany and Katie shovel testing at Adams Field

Our next day of work we were out at Adams Field checking out the sidewalks between the Music Building and Cowles House. They are currently replacing the sidewalks in this area with new ‘green’ sidewalks that are made of recycled MSU glass. You can learn more about this cool initiative here: “Even the concrete is green”. Again, we didn’t find too much although there were some nice square cut nails and a portion of an industrial clay pipe.

Our week ended with us doing a safety training with FRIB (Facility for Rare Isotope Beam). As you can tell driving down Wilson by Bogue, they are working hard to move forward on constructing their new buildings. We will be working with them on a number of projects, but right now we are monitoring their progress on creating the power source for the buildings. It is an exciting project to be a part of, and we are looking forward to it.

This Upcoming Week: Jenison Field House and MSU Museum Sidewalks

This week we have two projects we will be jumping between. The first is the Jenison parking lot where we will be starting to survey underneath the sidewalks. We will be beginning this project today around 12pm and will be out there for the afternoon. Then tomorrow and the next day we will be in the Sacred Space area to the North of the MSU Museum working on sidewalks and potentially checking out some green space if we have time.

As always, feel free to come out and visit us, and follow our progress on twitter @capmsu! Just look for the green flag!

Getting Ready for the Summer…

2012-09-06 08.48.34

Excavation from Fall 2012

This summer, Campus Archaeology is going to be very busy doing archaeological surveys and monitoring various construction projects. There are eight different projects occurring over the summer that we will be a part of in some manner. Over the past couple months we’ve been meeting with Physical Plant and construction company members to discuss the projects. We’ve done research with the MSU Archives to determine the historic significance of the area. We’re just about ready, and now all we have to do is wait for all the projects to start up!

The first project is the reconstruction of the Jenison Parking Lot. As we’ve discussed about before, parking lots and sidewalks can be great for archaeologists, because they protect any historic or prehistoric material underneath them. We’ve also had good luck finding things on the banks of rivers, so this project will give us the opportunity to do just that and explore a new section of the Red Cedar River.

Next, there is the renovations occurring at Landon Hall. This will also involve removal of asphalt and concrete, under which will we be testing for artifacts. We know that this area was once Faculty Row, and had a number of residences for faculty that were built in the late 19th century. Third, the Bogue Street round-about is being redesigned to match the intersection between Farm Ln, Shaw Ln, and Red Cedar Rd. This project has already begun. There is also a possible project along the railroad and arboretum to the south. The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams will be placing power ducts from the Power Plant to their main site on Bogue and Wilson, so this will required some survey.

There are also two major demolitions that are going to occur. The first is the Old Botany Greenhouse, part of which has already been removed. The greenhouses are over 100 years old, and no longer are in use. The second demolition is the one we’ve all been talking about- the Morrill Hall demolition. Sadly, the building cannot be maintained, so it will be torn down over the summer. For both of these, we will be recording the process for history and then checking the sites prior to renovation.

Finally, just as there was last year, a section of West Circle Drive is going to be removed to replace steam tunnels. We will be closely working with the team to record and survey all their work. In particular we hope to find out more about what happened to the brook that ran through MSU’s north campus, and whether there are remains of the bridge that once was there. Along with this project there will also be some sidewalk replacement around the Sacred Space.

It will be an exciting summer, and we invite you to come out to visit us throughout May, June and July. Further updates on the blog will be given about specific project details, and we will be sharing information from the field on facebook and twitter!


Map of campus with red circles indicating CAP projects occurring this summer. Sidewalk project not circled.