Happy October! We hope everyone is doing well and is staying safe! Things are definitely looking a little different here this fall, as MSU has made the decision to stay remote for the entire semester. As our director, Dr. Camp, mentioned in her blog post …
Happy Halloween! Yesterday we hosted our 5th annual Apparitions & Archaeology: A Haunted Campus Tour. For this year’s tour, we decided to change several of the stops and the MSU Paranormal Society added stories from their investigations of each area! If you weren’t able to …
Announcing the 2017 Campus Archaeology Field School!
We are pleased to once again offer our on-campus field school. This five week field school will take place May 30th – June 30th, 2017. The class takes places Monday through Friday from 9am – 4pm. Students enroll for 6 credits of ANP 464. This class is open to MSU students and non-MSU students. There is a $150 equipment fee that is used to supply students with excavation tools. At the end of the field school students will keep this toolkit. Space is limited to 20 students, and applications are due to Dr. Goldstein (firstname.lastname@example.org) by March 5th.
Through excavation, lab work, and digital outreach students will examines several unique and interesting places on MSU’s historic campus. In this course students will get the opportunity to actively engage in archaeological research. You will learn excavation methods, survey techniques, how to map and record an excavation unit, laboratory methods, cultural heritage and digital outreach engagement, as well as an introduction to archival research.
This summer we plan to excavate in two areas: Beal’s Botanial Lab and Station Terrace.
Dr. Beal is an important person in early campus history. Though Beal served as a botany professor at MSU (then MAC) from 1871-1910, he made mark on campus that survives to this day. The Beal botanical garden (directly east of the MSU main library), established in 1873 is the oldest continuously operated university botanical garden in the U.S. Beal also started, what is today, one of the longest continuously running experiments in the world! In 1879 Beal buried 20 bottles containing seeds with the intent to see how long a seed could lay dormant and still germinate. The next bottle is scheduled to be dug up and opened in 2020. The location of the experimental bottles is a closely held campus secret. Beal was known as an incredibly eccentric professor, and the design of his first botanical laboratory was fittingly eccentric as well.
Built in 1879 (more detail), this building burned to the ground on March 23rd 1890. Although specific details about the fire have been lost over time, we do know that lab equipment (such as microscopes) was salvaged from the wreckage and the fire prompted the university to establish a fire brigade. We’ve established that portions of the building foundation still exists, and field school students will have the opportunity to excavate in this location.
Station Terrace stood at the souther end of what is now the Abbot street entrance. This building was constructed between 1892-1895 and originally housed visiting scholars from the experimental research stations. It was also later used to house bachelor faculty members, the East Lansing Post Office, and the Flower Pot Tea room (read more). The building was moved off campus in the early 20s but the foundation, as well as many artifacts remain. After excavations at Beal’s lab it’s expected that the field school will move to this second location.
For more information about the field school, head on over to the field school webpage.
Download the application. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have here, on Twitter, or email Dr. Goldstein directly.
In my previous blog post, I discussed Professor Beal’s pioneering hands-on teaching strategies and his efforts in building the College’s first botanical laboratory. As I delved into research about the botanical laboratory and Beal, it became apparent that the lab was not Beal’s only, or …
The tragic fate of Michigan Agricultural College’s first Botanical Laboratory is the stuff of campus lore. Built in 1879, it burned to the ground in March of 1890 when a defective flue—and, legend has it, incompetent graduate students—contributed to a fire in the building’s attic. …
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 was not directly impacting the north west corner of the Abbot entrance, I wanted to conduct a survey in this area so that we could consider the entire west side of the road surveyed. The NW corner was home to the U.S. Weather Bureau. The building was constructed in 1909 and demolished in 1948. Dewey Seeley and his family occupied the building, while Mr. Seeley recorded daily weather data and provided forecasts for the area. As the campus, and East Lansing, grew around the Weather Bureau Mr. Seeley complained about the encroachment near the bureau. He petitioned the federal government for the construction of a new weather bureau in a different location, and a new structure was built by the federal government on land leased by the college. That building is today known as the Wills House, located just west of Mayo Hall. From 1927-1940 the old bureau building served as the music center, from 1940 to approx. 1943 it was the Works Progress Administration Headquarter, and finally the Placement Center until its destruction in 1948.
The bureau was demolished by George Boone of Jackson MI, who paid the college $400 to remove the building. Because Mr. Boone paid the college, rather than being paid by them, our investigation sought to discover how much of the weather bureau remained after he salvaged/scrapped the building.
We were unable to locate any intact foundation walls or floors. However, a dense layer of rubble does cover that entire area. Artifacts were mostly building related including bricks, nails, roofing slate, and concrete. One curious artifact category were bricks made out of concrete, something we had not encountered before. Two of the concrete bricks were sent to Civil Engineering for inspection.
Lansing State Journal
While we were excavating the weather bureau a reporter from the Lansing State Journal came by to write a story on CAP. We even made it on the cover of the journal! The complete article, along with a short video, can be found on the journal’s website.
Beal’s Botanical Laboratory
The location of Beal’s first botanical laboratory is marked with a large historical plaque. We did some brief investigations in this area in 2009 or 2010, but aside from probing have just assumed that the building foundation was still present. Earlier this week we opened three 1×1 units on the eastern edge of the grassy area to determine the extent of the foundations/artifact presence. We were also trying to determine the orientation of the building.
Our excavations were exploratory in nature, and we limited the disturbance to three units. One unit appears to be outside the extent of the buildings footprint, but two units located walls.
Unit one locate a large field stone wall just below the modern ground surface. This wall section ran almost due N/S (4 degrees), and was 80 cm in total height. The wall was surrounded by sterile fill sand, most likely a builders trench from the construction of the building. Interestingly, although this unit had melted glass, they did not have a burn layer.
Unit two located a smaller, possibly interior, wall made of medium size cobbles with a mortar layer on top. On one side of the wall was sterile fill sand, while the other side had a larger rubble and burn layer. This unit also encountered large amounts of burned and cracked glass, as well as hand cut square nails.
Finding these two walls, as well as discussing the presence of a third known wall with people that work in the Beal Botanical Garden, helps us better understand the orientation and current state of the structure.
Author: Lisa Bright
Board of Trustee Meeting Minutes October 21st, 1948: http://onthebanks.msu.edu/Object/3-F-43F/meeting-minutes-october-21-1948/