Campus Survey Work: West Circle Drive

You may have noticed that there is some major work being done on West Circle Drive over the next few months at MSU. For most of May and June, Campus Archaeology is going to be working with the construction teams to make sure that this historic part of campus is protected throughout the process. A couple weeks ago we began survey in this area by checking out the center of the circle, east of Music Practice. We didn’t find too many artifacts, and nothing that suggested that we were at a historic or prehistoric area of importance. We mainly recovered some old nails, broken window glass and terracotta sherds.

Mystery object
Mystery object

We started our survey of the southern edge of the northern half of West Circle this morning. Over the next few days, we will continue to work our way around the circle. The finds from this morning included some heavy industrial glass, bottle glass and an interesting hard plastic portion of a circular object (see picture). This last object hasn’t been identified, although guesses from twitter include the protective covering on the leg of a chair or a bouncy ball. My current guess is a plastic knob. Once we get it cleaned off we will be able to get a better idea of what we have.

Survey along this area is important because it was one of the historic areas of campus, and we have also identified prehistoric material in this area. Along the northwest portion of West Circle Drive there used to be the Faculty Row structures. It consisted of a long row of houses that were built for faculty during the 19th century, stretched along West Circle Drive. This Row ran from the corner of now Gilchrest Hall to Morrill Hall. By the 1910s, these building began to change function. Some became music practice houses, while others were turned over to the Home Economics department and used as practice houses. In the 1940s, when the West Circle Dormitory complex was completed, most of these buildings were torn down, except for the still standing Cowles House and the building under investigation this week, which became the first International Center. It is highly likely that historic material from these homes will be buried in the area we are surveying.

Thursday we will be continuing our survey along West Circle Drive, working eastwards on the northern half of the circle. You are welcome to come visit us during the dig, and check out our twitter feed which will be updating live on our progress, @capmsu

Author: Katy Meyers Emery

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