Preserving and promoting Baltimore's historic buildings and neighborhoods.
Today in Patterson Park, volunteers working with Jason Shellenhamer, Ryun Papson, and archeologist Emily Walter uncovered a brick foundation for the structure identified in our earlier remote sensing survey. With multiple units open, we’ve also started to recover a number of intriguing artifacts including coins, ceramics and even a French gunflint that could potentially have been used with a French rifle during the War of 1812.
Thank you to everyone who came out and joined us last night for our rainy volunteer workshop in Patterson Park. Delayed a day by yesterday’s storm, the field excavation started today led by fieldwork supervisor Jason Shellenhamer and team archeologist Ryun Papson together with a great team of volunteers recruited in partnership with the Archeological Society of Maryland.
Just in time for the start of field excavations in Patterson Park next week, Dr. Tim Horsley has shared some initial findings from his remote sensing survey of Hampstead Hill last month. Tim created the images and maps pictured using data from soil resistivity and ground-penetrating radar surveys that revealed the location of a structure in the park and (as Tim writes) what “looks suspiciously like a cellar or basement to me.”
The map of the Civil War encampment at Patterson Park excerpted in Tim’s survey above suggests that the structure located at the site was used as the “Keeper’s House” in the 1860s (a function later replaced in 1868 by the Superintendent’s House used by the Friends of Patterson Park as an office today).
However, our project team suspects the structure may be much older and could have originally been built by Jacob Loudslanger as the tavern and butcher’s shop that first gave the adjoining neighborhood the name of Butcher’s Hill. Historian Scott Sheads has documented how General Samuel Smith occupied Loudslanger’s tavern as his field headquarters during the Battle of Baltimore sending orders from Hampstead Hill to the troops at the Battle of North Point and to the forces stationed at Fort McHenry—a story that makes this possible discovery a very exciting find.
Special thanks to photographer Amy Davis for sharing her photographs from our recent tour of the Parkway Theater with Jed Dietz, Director of the Maryland Film Festival. Amy has been documenting historic movie houses around the city her upcoming book, “Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters.”
Last week’s remote sensing survey in Patterson Park challenged our project team with rain, snow, chilly temperatures and an initially elusive search for the 1812 earthworks. Fortunately, the team survived the bad weather and successfully gathered critical data to guide our field excavations later this month.
Fieldwork Director Greg Katz and Dr. Tim Horsley shared their reflections on the week’s work by email. Greg was excited about the traces of the earthworks we found through Tim’s survey:
I would say that the results of the work last week exceeded my expectations – I was not expecting to find much of the earthworks beyond what you can see looking at the current landscape. Finding more was a big and pleasant surprise. I really enjoyed working with the Archeological Society of Maryland volunteers. I found them to be enthusiastic and eager to learn… The weather was really a big challenge last week. When you schedule weeks in advance and have a specialist traveling 800 miles to be there, you have to work in the rain and snow.
Tim (our long-distance specialist) shared his own reflections and satisfaction with a “very productive week” in the park:
Friday went well, and I calculate that I collected over 6 miles of ground penetrating radar (GPR) data – much of which was up and down that slope! My very preliminary look at the GPR data suggests that we have successfully detected the ditch continuing north and south from the bastion… Through the week we collected a total of 3 acres of magnetometer data, and although these are largely blown out by utilities and modern iron, there is some useful information in there. Between the various data sets, I’m certainly going to be able to suggest locations for excavation trenches, both to hit some interesting features, and to hopefully avoid hitting utilities!
Today it’s best known for the pagoda, summertime jazz concerts and some of the city’s best sledding. But an archaeological dig planned for Patterson Park’s Hampstead Hill seeks to revive a largely forgotten 200-year-old story. While most know Fort McHenry’s role in the Battle of Baltimore, thanks to Francis Scott Key and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” few know or remember what transpired on the hill overlooking the harbor. Buried there could lie remnants of the trenches that helped Baltimore fend off advancing British land forces and end the War of 1812.