City of Alexandria, Virginia
Owner: Carr City Centers
As part of the development team for the Hotel Indigo, Thunderbird Archeology, a division of Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. (WSSI), conducted cultural resources investigations of this site along the historic waterfront of Old Town Alexandria. It was once the site of numerous industries, warehouses, businesses, and residences in the late 18th and 19th centuries; by the turn of the 20th century, the property was occupied by the Bryant Fertilizer Company.
A Documentary Study and Archaeological Evaluation of the property were required as a condition of the Development Special Use Permit. During the investigation WSSI discovered the oldest structural remains found to date in Alexandria: the 1755 public warehouse on Point Lumley constructed under the direction of John Carlyle, and most likely its associated privy (outhouse). WSSI also found house foundations, a brick-lined well, and three additional privies dating to the late 18th to early 19th century, and late 19th and 20th century factory and warehouse foundation on the site.
WSSI also discovered the remnants of a colonial-era ship was buried deep in one corner of the site. The ship had been used as the framework to create new land along the Potomac waterfront. WSSI worked closely with the site developer, the City Archaeologist, maritime archeologists from the United States Navy, and the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab for specialized analysis and conservation of the ship and warehouse timbers to complete the field investigations. Research, analysis, and reporting for this project is ongoing. WSSI reported on the dendrochronology results in our March 23, 2017 edition of Field Notes.
Public outreach is an integral component of archeological work, especially in the City of Alexandria, which has had a successful public archeology program for decades. WSSI staff, in coordination with Carr City Centers and City of Alexandria staff, provided interviews and other assistance to various local, national, and international media outlets. Coverage by NBC News, CNN, FOX News, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Archaeology Magazine, and Smithsonian Magazine, among others, brought this significant archeological story to a vast audience. WSSI also worked with Friends of Alexandria Archaeology to support fundraising for conservation of the historic ship’s timbers. Research has been presented at the March 2017 Middle Atlantic Archaeological Conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia and the January 2017 Society for Historical Archaeology conference in Fort Worth, Texas.
The drawing of the ship prepared by WSSI staff is featured prominently in the interior design of the new Hotel Indigo.
images from the warehouse and ship excavations and ship timber conservation activities
Links of interest include
- "WSSI Archeologists Unearth Exceptional History in Alexandria"
Field Notes, Vol. 24, No. 1, January 6, 2016
- "Dendroarcheological Study Confirms Date of Suspected Revolutionary War-Era Ship"
Field Notes, Vol. 25, No. 6, March 23, 2017
- City of Alexandria: Archaeological Discoveries on the Waterfront
- The ship timber conservation process at Texas A&M University's Conservation Research Laboratory