Photograph by Rebecca Crew, 2014.

Herring Run Park Archaeology: Volunteers are digging for artifacts and answers in northeast Baltimore

Over the next two weeks, visitors to Herring Run Park can meet archaeologists Lisa Kraus and Jason Shellenhamer along with dozens of volunteers working together to uncover 200 years of hidden history. With support from Preservation Maryland, the Herring Run Park Archaeology project is bringing neighbors together to answer exciting questions about the history of northeast Baltimore and protect archaeological resources. Read on for a quick introduction to the project and details on the Herring Run Park Archaeology Open House Weekend, May 16-17.

Portrait of William Smith and His Grandson, Charles Wilson Peale, 1788. Courtesy Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Portrait of William Smith and His Grandson, Charles Wilson Peale, 1788. Courtesy Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

On the park side of quiet Eastwood Drive, our team is searching for Eutaw – an 18th century country estate owned by William Smith. In addition to a long career as a merchant, Smith (not to be confused with General Samuel Smith) served as a representative from Maryland to the House of Representatives, the Maryland State Senate. Beyond this fascinating site, additional survey work (see the project update by archaeologist Lisa Kraus from last December) opened up new questions about a complicated landscape of archaeological remains that we hope to continue to explore through a nine-day excavation that begins this Saturday.

Eric HolcombBut this project is about more than history. Public archaeology bring neighbors together to share stories and preserve historic landscapes. For our third public archaeology project since 2011, we are excited to partner with the Northeast Baltimore History Roundtable and the Friends of Herring Run Parks. We are also glad to continue our partnerships with the Archeological Society of Maryland, Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, and Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks. Best of all are the amazing group of residents in Lauraville, Hamilton, and Arcadia who have championed this project over the past year. These residents who are donating their time and expertise to this effort and passionate about their community’s history. Local resident (and CHAP’s executive director) Eric Holcomb and his neighbor Rich Dowd even built the screens our volunteers will be using in the field!

Image courtesy Patty Dowd, Friends of Herring Run Parks.
Image courtesy Patty Dowd, Friends of Herring Run Parks.

You can still get involved as a volunteer or by sharing your own questions about the history of the park. Are you wondering who worked at the mills, the hotels, taverns, and farms that existed here in the 1800s? Did Native Americans establish settlements or camps here? How has the neighborhood changed over time, and what has stayed the same? Let us know your questions or ideas in the comments.

Herring Run Park Archaeology Open House Weekend

Saturday, May 16 or Sunday, May 17, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Stop by Herring Run Park at 3600 of Eastwood Drive, Baltimore, MD 21206

Northeast Baltimore residents, archaeology enthusiasts, students and families are all encouraged to stop by to learn more about historical archaeology and the history of Herring Run Park. We’ll be offering guided tours of the site at 10:00 am, 11:30 am, and 1:00 pm; family-friendly self-guided tours with the new TaleBlazer smartphone app; and opportunities to talk with the team and see the finds from the week of work in the park.

Photograph by Eli Pousson, November 2014.
Photograph by Eli Pousson, November 2014.


Updated 2015 May 7: The original version of this post incorrectly named Eutaw as the home of Samuel Smith. Eutaw was the property of William Smith and his cousin Samuel Smith lived nearby at Montebello. Our apologies for the error!

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