Synopsis of Archaeological Excavations at the Monson Motor Lodge,
St. Augustine, Florida, and a Description of Three Trash Deposits
Carl D. Halbirt
Planning and Building Department
City of St. Augustine, Florida
August 23, 2003
Intermittent archaeological investigations by the City of St. Augustine Archaeology Program at the site of the former Monson Motor Lodge (Blocks 3 and 4) occurred over a three-year period prior to the construction of the new Hilton Gardens Motel. The project commenced in June 2000 and ended in June 2003, and approximately 12 months were spent investigating the site.1 It is estimated that about two percent of the project area (estimated to be approximately 53,000 square feet) was examined by means of systematic shovel testing. This testing procedure involved opening up test units both within and outside existing rooms (both rental and storage) in the area of the proposed underground parking garage (Figure 1). This was the location where archaeological deposits would be totally destroyed by construction activities. Only one room would be shut down at any time (Milanich 2002), thereby minimizing the motel's loss of revenue--an issue of concern to the management. A total of five rentals, two storage rooms, and three outdoor areas (two small sections in the parking lot and one in a landscaped area) was investigated while the motel was in operation.
In addition to the systematic shovel excavations, the City Archaeology Program spent four months (February to June 2003) monitoring the demolition of the hotel and mechanical removal of soil deposits within the area of the underground parking garage, which was about 27,000 square feet in area. This resulted in the documentation and
1 The intermittent nature of field investigations at the Monson property was due to the plethora of other properties requiring archaeological evaluation by the City Archaeology Program. During this period the City was responsible for implementing investigations at 14 other properties slated to be developed. The City program at this time consisted of the city archaeologist, one temporary full-time assistant, and a cadre of volunteers-most of who are retired.
excavation of an additional 30 major archaeological features, including the outlines of colonial period structures and property walls whose foundations had been exposed in the test units, wells, large trash pits, shell middens, and the historic road beds of Charlotte Street and Baya Lane. In most cases, recording the features during the monitoring phase was implemented after the initial 2 to 4 feet of modern fill and nineteenth-century occupation zone had been removed. The number of features documented represents only a small fraction of the hundreds of archaeological features that once existed within the area of the underground parking facility.
Even though management placed constraints on the City's ability to investigate large sections of the property while the motel was in operation, more than 170 archaeological features and hundreds of thousands of artifacts were documented and collected within the approximately 1,200 square feet examined in the 10 test units excavated. Coupled with monitoring activities, a total of 200 archaeological features was documented-some of which contained multiple lenses or episodes of use (e.g., a series of floor deposits found within structures occupied from the colonial through territorial periods).
From this assorted database, it was concluded that development of the Monson property commenced in the early 1700s, coinciding with the construction of the First Spanish Period seawall (ca. 1695 to 1705). Prior to this period the property was probably subject to periodic tidal surges and corresponding flooding-a consequence of storms originating off the Atlantic Ocean, which resulted in sporadic use of the bayfront property.2 Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century architectural techniques appear to have been used for the earliest houses, given the presence of daub pits adjacent to post holes and mud sleeper trenches. This would correspond to an era when the community was rebuilding as a consequence of the 1702 siege by Governor James Moore of Carolina and the ensuing decade of frontier violence resulting from the War of Spanish Succession (a.k.a. Queen Anne's War). According to Albert Manucy (1962:25), housing during this period consisted of nothing more than "scanty straw structures." It was probably not
2 Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) generated elevation maps of the historic downtown district show this area to the city to be within four feet of mean sea level (Halbirt 2003). Historical references also mention the problem the town's residents had in this general area to reach the fort during severe storms prior to construction of the seawall (Arana n.d.)
until after 1715 that more substantial structures were built of coquina stone, tabby, and wood, which is substantiated in the archaeological record.
Most of the archaeological deposits (both features and artifacts) documented and recovered date from the late eighteenth through nineteenth centuries when numerous buildings used for both commercial and residential purposes existed on the Monson property (Figure 2). During this era, this section of town was the commercial district and a few of the features observed during monitoring reflect either discarded and/or broken inventories. Associated with these structures were outdoor occupational surfaces, detached kitchens, wells, privies, trash pits, and an assortment of miscellaneous pits whose functions are unclear. Although no one residential or commercial property was fully explored, enough information was accumulated from the investigations to ascertain a general site layout. Structures fronted onto the streets and adjacent to the back of the home or business was a prepared tabby surface(s), which effectively extended the structures' living area. Wells were situated along one side of the rear lot and privies and trash pits the other side, although at some residences wells occurred along the sides of the structures-possibly near loggia areas. Miscellaneous pits occurred throughout the motel property.
At the rear of some lots were enclosed wooden structures, which were partially dug into the water table. These structures were twice the size of typical privies encountered in St. Augustine, and contained an abundance of preserved organic remains (both botanical and faunal). Especially evident were numerous squash and watermelon seeds and fish remains, which are not generally found in privies. Also present were reconstructable ceramic vessels, bottle glass, and leather goods. Generally, nonperishable items were found in the upper fill of these features and probably represents trash discarded into the features after their intended use was discontinued. The enclosures may represent a compost location or possibly were used as animal pens (e.g., a pig wallow) into which spoiled or discarded food was tossed.
The following sections consist of the physical descriptions of three features excavated while monitoring construction activities. They were selected based on the large quantity of faunal remains, which will form the corpus of study for a faunal class at the University of Georgia and will be used as part of a master's thesis at Florida State
University. The three features are a well (Feature 199), which was filled with trash subsequent to abandonment, and two trash pits (Features 177 and 183). What makes these three features enticing is the quantity and quality of cultural material recovered.3 All three features had an abundance and diverse assemblage of cultural material dating from ca. 1764 to 1810, which brackets a tumultuous period in the City's colonial history when East Florida came under control of a succession of different European powers as a consequence of global conflicts. The characteristics and dating of each feature is discussed separately and in chronological order.
Before commencing with the feature descriptions, brief attention is given to the introduction of Creamware in St. Augustine, which is critical for dating Feature 199. What makes the dating of Creamware critical is that it occurs at the cusp of the first Spanish and British occupations of the city. It is generally accepted that cream-colored vessels were produced in the 1750s in a form known as Wheildonware. It was not until 1762, however, that Josiah Wedgwood produced a plain-colored ware known as "Queens ware" (Hume 1991:124). The design of this type was taken from the barley pattern found on White Saltglaze stoneware that involved raised edges that divided the rim into panels. This design type was discontinued ca. 1765 in favor of the "royal pattern" that produced a feather-edged rim design (Hume 1991:124).
These distinctions in Creamware design are significant when considered in
response to recent arguments that Creamware did not reach the British colonies in North American until the late 1760s (Adams 2003; Miller 1987)--a lag time of seven to eight years from the original date of manufacture. Much of the material sent to St. Augustine during the mid-eighteenth century originated from coastal cities to the north, especially Charleston and New York City (Harmon 1969). Kathleen Deagan (1975) has argued, however, that low frequencies of Creamware was present in St. Augustine at the end of the First Spanish Period based on its occurrence in sealed archaeological contexts and documentary evidence related to residential ownership.
While it is beyond the scope of this synopsis to discuss the origins of Creamware in St. Augustine, or when it was shipped to colonies in North America, some assumptions 3 Over the past 14 years, I have uncovered hundreds of trash deposits representing more than 400 years of European occupation. These three features represent some of the best examples of secondary refuse depsoits (Schiffer 1976) uncovered
can be made regarding the types of Creamware that would be expected at the end of the First Spanish Period. First, Creamware at this time would have a distinctive creamcolored (a yellow hew) appearance. In the early 1770s, demand for light colored tableware forced manufactures to develop a lighter-colored Creamware. Second, the rim design pattern would be representative of Queens ware or other White Saltglaze mold patterns, with little (if any) feather-edged rims represented. Third, Creamware would not be the dominant European ceramic type in the assemblage. Instead, earlier English slipware, white Saltglaze, and possibly Spanish majolica would predominate.
Feature 199 is a large square well shaft, which measures 135 cm per side by more than 200 cm in depth (Figure 3), with about 100 cm being submerged in the water table. Unlike the usual colonial period well, which consisted of a series of wooden barrels stacked atop one another and which are the common well type documented at the Monson property, this well consisted of a series of horizontal planks fastened onto corner posts. It is estimated that the well construction pit measured 320 cm in diameter, although only a cross-section profile (i.e., east-west) was obtained. The depositional history of Feature 199 is complex as indicated by soil stratigraphy. There is evidence to suggest that soil deposits were accumulating in the well shaft during its use-life, as represented in the A-series strata. A cleaning event is suggested, after which the well shaft became a convenient location to discard trash and rubble. Ten distinct episodes of dumping and filling are represented in the well shaft, as shown in the C-series soil stratigraphy. Although no cross-mending of ceramic types has been attempted at this time, inspection of assemblages for the different soil layers reveals similarities in ceramic frequencies--indicating a rapid infilling process.
From top to bottom, the soil stratigraphy documented for Feature 199 consists of the following designations, with corresponding field specimen (FS) numbers:
D-1: a dark grayish brown, medium grain sandy loam (FS16.02)-overburden zone
C-0: a dense shell and rubble zone within a brownish gray sandy loam
(FS 16.07)-trash deposit
C-1: a mixed clayey sand with charcoal (FS 16.08)--a cap or sealer
C-3: a dark gray (organic) zone with abundant charcoal, bone, and
trash (FS 16.09)--general trash deposit
C-4: a medium-grain dark mottled sand with rust stains (FS16.16)-this zone may correspond with a layer of discarded metal debris that
was completely oxidized as a result of being near the water table
C-4/5: a mixed deposit removed as a grab sample to define the south
wall of Feature 199.
C-5: a dense layer of shell (oyster with some clam) in a fine-grain
brown sand (FS 16.11)--a trash deposit
C- 5/6: a mixed deposit of strata 5 and 6 removed as a grab sample to
define the south wall of Feature 199
C-6: a medium-coarse grayish brown sand with shell and rubble (FS
16.13)--a trash deposit (also FS 16.14)
C-7: a fine grayish brown mottled sand with pockets of shell and
rubble (FS 16.15)
C-8: a dense concentration of rubble within C-7
C-9: varved zone4 of clay, sand, and silt that represents part of the
well's infilling while in use; at the base of the level an engine-turned Elersware teapot (ca. 1762-1765) and Chinese export porcelain plate
A-series: a series ofvarved deposits consisting of sand, clay, and silt
that represents different episodes of well infilling while in use;
corresponds to C-9
In addition to these FS numbers, which correspond to distinct stratigraphic deposits, a sample (FS 16-1.02) was obtained from the exposed profile when the feature was initially discovered. This was done to ensure that a sample was collected during a period of heavy rains, which had eroded portions of the property, and prior to the feature being excavated.
Dating Feature 199 from the ceramic assemblages is inconclusive. It exhibits most of the earlier Creamware characteristics and is not the predominant ceramic type represented. However, some feather-edged rims are present. Dominant ceramic types are White Saltglaze and English Delftware, with lesser amounts of English Slipware, Creamware, coarse earthenware, and Chinese export porcelains. Surprisingly, Spanish majolicas and Native American pottery, which have traditionally been the hallmark in identifying First Spanish Period archaeological deposits, are found in low quantities in
4 Varved refers to a layering of different soil types within a single depositional unit.
Feature 199.5 As such, a best guess estimate is that the feature dates to ca. 1765. The last recorded owners at this time were Don Juan de Solas in 1764 and Jesse Fish in 1765, although the later may not have every resided at the property. He was an agent representing Spanish real estate concerns who had over 100 properties in his name.
What also needs to be considered in dating the well is its condition and the events that may have precipitated this outcome. In addition to the plethora of ceramic fragments and bottle glass, of which an estimated 20 to 30 ale or wine bottles are represented, an abundance of coquina stone fragments and some brick and ladrillo fragments were found inside the shaft. While finding rubble in well shafts is not uncommon, this well contained an exorbitant quantity, as if the material had been tossed into the shaft so as to limit further use of this feature. This type of activity has been documented at other wells excavated in the city, including a large coquina stone well that was filled with clean sand prior to the outbreak of the 1702 siege of St. Augustine (Halbirt 1997).
One supposition developed while excavating the feature was that the outcome was an act perpetrated by a vengeful or callous person(s). Such an event may have resulted from a person being forced to leave their home, which was probably de riguer for some residents in the city when Spain ceded Florida to Britain in 1763 as a consequence of the French and Indian Wars. Another scenario is wanton destruction of property, which was the case when British soldiers took command of the city in 1764 and torn down many structures for firewood (Darling 1849:283-284).
Why so much material is present in the well shaft is currently unknown. It may
represent a portion of the inventory from a merchant, or it may belong to family of wealth and/or status (e.g., a criollo or merchant family). Both Juan de Solas and Jesse Fish were known to be prominent entrepreneurs. Juan de Solas was a lieutenant in the Spanish militia and was a partner of Don Antonio Rodriquez Arsian-a prominent San Agustin resident. Jesse Fish had resided in St. Augustine from 1730s-as a child-until his death in 1790. Fish was sent to the city as a child by a prominent New York shipping firm to
5 The lack of Spanish ceramic material at this time may be in response to two causes: 1) cheaper English wares, which began to enter the St. Augustine in the 1720s and 2) corruption that was endemic in the Havana Company, St. Augustine's principal supplier of material throughout the Spanish empire. The lack of Native American ware reflects demographic shifts that were occurring in Spanish La Florida throughout the eighteenth century-namely Native American population decline.
learn the Spanish language and customs, after which he became an agent representing the firm's interest in Spanish East Florida.
Feature 177 is a large circular trash pit, which measures 110 cm in diameter by 85 cm deep (Figure 4). The interior of the pit is vertical along the west half, but has been undercut by the water table on the east half of the feature. Five different soil strata exist within Feature 177, which represent varved sands and silts (Stratum A), trash deposits (Strata B and E), intentional filling to seal deposits (Stratum D), and redeposited culturally sterile sands (Stratum C). Above the uppermost trash deposit (Stratum E, F.S. 14-3.04) was a layer of brownish gray sandy loam representing the late eighteenth- to early nineteenth-century occupational zone. Artifactual material (especially ceramics) indicates that the trash pit was used during the British period (1763-1784) with two episodes of trash disposal represented: early (Stratum B: F.S. 14-3.11 and 14-3.12) and late (Stratum E, F.S. 14-3.03 and 14-3.13).6 The fill (sealer) zone separating the two deposits is designated by F.S. number 14-3.10. A mean ceramic date and TPQ place the use of Feature 177 during the 1770s. Records have not been examined to determine who owned the property at this time, although this may be difficult to determine given the number of property transactions that occurred during the British Period.
Feature 183 is a large, circular trash pit, which measures approximately 105 cm in diameter by 44 to 57 cm deep (Figure 5). Its sides are vertical or slightly undercut and the base is graduated, extending in a series of step-like dips. This graduated appearance corresponds to shovel marks. The fill within Feature 183 consists of two basic zones denoted by levels 3 and 4 in the profile. Level 3 (F.S. 15-1.03) is a brown sandy loam with small artifactual and rubble debris and represents a fill or sealer cap. Level 4 (F.S. 15-1.04) is the trash zone, characterized by a dense organic, rubbish-laden deposit within a grayish sandy loam. Above the feature was a layer of dark grayish brown, medium
6 It should be noted that no cross-mending at this time has been attempted. The two trash zones are considered to be distinct deposits.
grained, sandy loam (Level 2, F.S. 15-1.02) that represents the property's nineteenthcentury occupational zone. Artifactual material (especially ceramics) indicates that the trash pit was used during the second half of the Second Spanish Period (ca. 1805-1820) when the property was owned by Antonio Berta and his heirs.
The three features under consideration for faunal analysis contained an incredible quantity and diversity of faunal remains, which will assist students in developing skills for recognizing different faunal types and elements. This information can then be applied to reconstruct changes in dietary practices for that section of town that housed the merchant or business community-an area that can be considered to represent the upper socio-economic class. When compared to other locations within the colonial downtown, especially those of mestizas (or mixed blood) groups a fuller understanding of how resources were distributed throughout the community can be hypothesized.
Adams, William H. 2003 Dating Historical Sites: The Importance of Understanding Time Lag in the
Acquisition, Curation, Use, and Disposal of Artifacts. HistoricalArchaeology
Arana, Luis R. n.d. Castillo de San Marcos: First Spanish Period, 1668-1763. MS on file, Castillo De
San Marcos National Monument, St. Augustine, Florida.
Deagan, Kathleen 1975 New Dates for Creamware from Closed Contexts in St. Augustine. Conference
on Historic Sites Archaeology Papers 9:13-29
Darlington, William 1849 Memorials of John Bartram and Humphry Marshall. Lindsay and Blakiston,
Halbirt, Carl D. 2002 The Apocalypse of 1702: Archaeological Evidence of Moore's Siege. El
.2003 New Evidence of St. Augustine's 16th Century Cultural Landscape. Paper
presented at the 55h" Annual Conference of the Florida Anthropological Society,
Harman, Joyce E. 1969 Trade and Privateering in Spanish Florida. The St. Augustine Historical Society,
Hume, Ivor Noel 1991 A Guide to Artifacts of Colonial America (Reprint). Vintage Books, Random
House, New York.
Milanich, Jerrald T. 2002 Motel of the Mysteries: Urban Archaeology in the Nations Oldest City.
Archaeology 55(1): 50-53.
Miller, George L. 1987 Origins of Josiah Wedgwood's "Pearlware." Northeast HistoricalArchaeology
Schiffer, Michael B. 1976 BehavioralArchaeology. Academic Press, New York.
Figure 1. Map of the Monson Motor Lodge Property Showing Location of Archaeological Features.
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Lessons from the Monson Motor Lodge
Carl D. Halbirt
Archaeologists face a myriad of are impacted by construction activities, challenges both prior to and during is a prime example of this point. Do you fieldwork, Foremost is the challenge to leave the material, which includes determine which area of a site should be perishable organic remains (such as investigation and the methodology to be leather, wood, and inedible plant used. Do you focus on locations that remains) submerged in the water table have a high probability for data where it has been protected for hundreds recovery? Or, is a systematic of years? Or, do you retrieve it for its investigation warranted to understand analytical value. Archaeology is, by its the overall composition of a site? This own nature, a destructive science and challenge is influenced by financial and once a feature or deposit is uncoveredscheduling concerns, which often especially something dug into or resting determine the amount of time that can atop an ancient ground surface, it's be allocated in undertaking a project as contents can seldom be restored. As well as affecting the field strategy. such, it is necessary to determine a Probably the most challenging aspect of prudent course of action: one that fieldwork is decoding what the various enables investigators to document the soil deposits reflect. Are they a complexities and significance of the consequence of human activity and, if archaeological record within budgetary so, what type of activity? Or, is the constraints and sanctioned policies while deposit a result of animal burrowing or attempting to preserve as much of the nesting? Have factors other than site as possible. These are only some of humans or animals contributed to soil the challenges that require consideration. formation, such as that caused by
vegetation, wind, or water? Matters While each site and region in the related to the best course of action for United States has it own unique set of preserving and curating artifacts prior to characteristics that define its their unearthing is, yet, another archaeological heritage, one of the most consideration. The submerged material challenging locations in the country for from colonial well shafts, which rarely deciphering the archaeological record is
St. Augustine's colonial downtown a three-year period (June 2000 to 2003), district. Depending on the location, with more than 5,000 person hours anywhere from 300 to more than 430 devoted to data recovery-most of this years of history is represented within time came from volunteers from the two to four feet of soil deposits. This SAAA. Throughout this period, the history is a reflection of not only property owner (Mr. Kanti Patel) was European activities associated with the both extremely gracious and Spanish, British, and American understanding in allowing us this time to occupation of the city, but also Native investigate his property. It should be American and African influences-all of noted that the intermittent nature of the which contributed to the development of investigation at the Monson was a this unique cosmopolitan settlement. reflection of the development boom that has been occurring in St. Augustine
A medley of archaeological features since the 1990s and the concomitant City (e.g., building foundations and post archaeological response required for holes, floors, wells, privies, animal pens, those other projects. Other City projects trash pits, agricultural/garden plots, that required attention during this water control systems, colonial street interval were the old Woolworth's surfaces, burials, miscellaneous pits, department store, Fish Island, Ximenezetc.) are found buried beneath the Fatio site, Target, the British "Pile-ofexisting urban landscape creating a Barracks", and an area northwest of Fort complex network of superimposed Mose at 33 Prado Avenue. features that comprises St. Augustine's
archaeological legacy. For example, It is estimated that over 80% of the City excavations at the Casa Monica 1.2-acre site Monson property was revealed a sequence of significant adversely impacted by construction of archaeological features (four wells, a the new motel, with most of the privy, a structure, and a trash pit) that disturbance associated with an underdate from the late 1600s to the late 1700s ground parking garage. Less than two within a 10 ft by 10 ft area (Halbirt percent of the project area was 1998). With each new project comes a investigated by means of systematic greater understanding of how to shovel testing (Figure 1), although approach and decipher St. Augustine's additional archaeological data recovery unique and varied archaeological record. occurred while monitoring the demolition of the motel and the
Hilton Garden Inn (aka the Monson subsequent mechanical excavation of the Motor Lodge) underground parking garage.
Monitoring documented some of the
Archaeological investigations at the larger, more visible features present on site of the former Monson Motor Lodge, the property (e.g., house foundations and now under construction for the new floors, wells, and trash pits). More than Hilton Gardens Inn, provides an example 200 archaeological features were of the challenges faced by the City's recorded during the City's investigation; program and the concomitant lessons however, this represents only a small learn through the excavation process. fraction of the projected 5,000 features The project occurred intermittently over that may have occurred on the property.
Some of these features were associated or public works departments were with structures built toward the end of instrumental in the removal and disposal the First Spanish Period (1702 to 1763) of this waste, as well as the two to three and used until fires swept through the feet of fill deposits that had been brought area in 1895 and 1914. Other features onto the property to elevate the motel are representative of an earlier native when this latest incarnation was American occupation along the shores of constructed in the 1950s. Afterwards, Matanzas Bay. the soil contents from each pit were hand excavated and the material brought
From the start of the project, it was outside by wheel barrels to the screening evident that this latest incarnation of the pits. Generally, test units were dug Monson Motel, built in the mid-1950s toward the center of the room so as not and early 1960s, posed challenges, to undermine the motel's building Foremost was the fact that most of the foundations. When Tropical Storm excavation time would occur while the Gabrielle hit St. Augustine in motel was still in operation-a response September, 2001, the combination of to management concerns over revenue tidal surges and an elevated water table loss. Also apparent was the extent of completely flooded the test unit then development on the property that left opened in Room 4---collapsing the test few locations accessible for unit's walls but not affecting the archaeological inquiry without some building foundation. type of demolition activity. These
constraints dictated the excavation Because the excavations were strategy. Only one room would be shut initially limited to rooms within the down at any time (Milanich 2002). A Monson Motor Lodge, which fronted total of five rental rooms, two storage along the east side of Charlotte Street rooms, and one landscape area were (Figure 1), the information recorded was investigated while the motel was in primarily associated with architectural operation. The parking lot was not variation for five structures built during examined due to concerns over limited the colonial period. Information parking availability, although two small recovered included how structures were areas were set aside for screening remodeled over a period of 100 to 150 purposes. In these locations, the surface years, as well as occupational surfaces asphalt was mechanically removed and a (floors) at the rear of the building that pit dug to collect the soil residue from may have been associated with porticos. material brought out from inside the An example of architectural variability rooms. These pits were placed as close was a colonial structure whose to the excavation areas as possible. foundation was originally of block coquina stone atop an oyster shell bed.
In order to excavate each room, The foundation was subsequently the room was emptied of its furniture modified by the addition of broken bottle and carpet and a section of the terrazzo bases placed into a carved notched and concrete floor removed by means of within the coquina stone. It is possible a jackhammer. The areas exposed varied that the bottle bases were used to elevate in size from 1 m by 2 m test units to 3 by wooden floor planking, which may have 3 m test units. City crews from the utility been originally placed within the
notches. Similar carved notches along material culture, and how the city the inside of coquina stone foundations participated in a global, market also was found with a structure once economy. The project area was a major owned by John Leslie of the Panton & component of St. Augustine's Leslie Company at the corner of commercial district during the colonial Treasury Street and Avenida Menendez. period.
It was not until monitoring activities So what field lessons have been occurred that features associated with learned while investigating the Monson "backyard activities" were exposed. Motor lodge? Besides increasing our Documented features found outside overall understanding of the diversity structures included the remains of wells, evident in various types of privies, animal enclosures, and large archaeological features (e.g., wells and refuse (trash) pits; all which could be structural remains), two observations are easily observed during the monitoring readily apparent from the excavation process. Other features that would have procedures employed at the property. been present, but were not observed Both of these observations are during monitoring due to their limited or contingent on the amount of time sporadic surface area and/or depth, available to undertake large-scaled would include posthole or mudsleeper projects. stains to wooden buildings and fences,
small garden ditches or furrows, small First, the variability and overlapping trash deposits, and floors, nature of archaeological deposits adjacent to St. Augustine's colonial
Conclusion streets could not have been adequately assessed through mechanical means
During the excavation of the Monson (e.g., through backhoe stripping). Some Motor lodge a variety of challenges were of the test units excavated contained faced. Not only was the enormity of the multiple floors and floor fill deposits that project of concern-for the project area had been intruded into by trash pits and incorporated two colonial city blocks subsequent building modifications. As (Blocks 3 and 4), but also scheduling such, it was often necessary to handand finding volunteer help to undertake excavated areas within a test unit in 2 to such a large project were factors. 5 cm increments to control for the Fortunately, the property owner (Kanti variation in soil deposits. Should all Patel) was very generous and areas then along colonial streets be only understanding, given all the interruptions be hand excavated? To address this caused by other projects, and members question requires one to evaluate the of the SAAA and local community information already uncovered. If one graciously donated their time. The three feels they have a good understanding of years spent intermittently on the the soil deposits and how those articulate property enabled information to be with human behavior (e.g., the processes gleamed relevant to various issues associated with remodeling structures), pertinent to the city's growth and then mechanical stripping is an option. development, architectural styles, use of This is especially the case if the area has space through time, changes in the been intensively developed or a period
of time, which applied to the Monson within these enclosures. By monitoring property that had witness repeated the mechanical removal of soil deposits reincarnations over the past 100 years. It within large areas that once represented is also applicable if one is attempting to "backyard areas" we were able define a expose an entire structure. For instance, heretofore poorly understood aspect of monitoring activities did enable the size St. Augustine's urban landscape, and configuration of three structures to especially during the 19t century. This be establ;shed after the tr&,Lres had information cabeoher Ci-sponsored ubn LVIt. proJects to deteUr-iUneU whei SI..u patterns of land-use existed. If so, are
Second, mechanical excavation of these reflective of culturally oriented areas not fronting onto the city's colonial behavior? streets is an option to test units when the
scope of construction, time, and The challenges faced and lessons availability of personnel are critical learned while undertaking excavations at determinants in the evaluation process, the former Monson Motor Lodge will While it is realized that the mechanical aid in future excavations carried out in excavation of the underground parking this "Ancient City," especially largegarage destroyed thousands of scale projects. What makes St. archaeological features and the removal Augustine so challenging is the diversity of 100's of thousands of artifacts, this of buried archaeological deposits method did furnish valuable information, representing over 430 years of Foremost, it provided an opportunity to continuous occupation by people of isolate and excavate important features differing racial and ethnic affiliations. (e.g., wells and refuse pits) that When visitors stop by and ask whether contained a plethora of material remains we have found anything interesting, I associated with distinct time periods; reply that "every time we put a shovel henceforth, property owners. It also into the ground, we learn something new helped to clarify how lots were utilized about St. Augustine's unique history." outside residential structures, especially
from the late Colonial period into the References Territorial Perind (i e., frn the 1760.s to
+,-, !oAn % w a +,, -, 16- r- +., +, .+ H albirt, Carl D the 840). Of interest was the fact that 1998 The Other Monica. St. Augustine aniiil peiis (Such as hui used L0or Association Newsletter 13(3): 1-2. pigs)-heretofore not documented in
earlier archaeological studies-were Milanich, Jerald T. present on some nrnnerties These pens. 2002 Motel of the Mysteries: Urban were wooden enclores measuring Archaeology in the Nation's Oldest excess of six-feet per side and extended City. Archaeology 55(1):50-53. into the water table. Thousands of
seeds, vegetal rinds, leather objects,
ceramics, and fecal material were found
about this unique community."
Page 1 of 3
Monson dig uncovers path
SBy PETER GUINTA
Publication Date: 04/13/01
New archaeological evidence found at Monson Bayfront Resort is proving
the theory that St. Augustine developed along high ground north of the Plaza
de la Constitucion, rather than along the Matanzas River.
Excavations at the Monson, 32 Avenida Menendez, were started to discover what artifacts were there before construction begins on a new Hilton hotel on
that site in September.
That controversial project which has already been approved by the city's
Historic Architectural Review Board, Planning and Zoning and City
Commission will contain 19 separate buildings and an underground garage.
City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt says a series of test sites explored to a depth of about six feet uncovered artifacts on side of the property facing Charlotte
Street that date to the 1600s.
However, the eastern side of the site contains nothing before 1700.
SOn Thursday, his volunteers were examining a tabby floor once part of a late
Colonial period building, between 1760 and 1820. The south wall was found
during another dig and the team wanted to see the north and east walls.
"We've found three floors so far," Halbirt said. "We think we have at least one
more floor to go."
Archaeological work involves taking small amounts of soil, sifting it
carefully for artifacts and keeping careful records of where everything was
The team found bullets, crockery, animal bones, nails and buttons. But very
little on the river side.
Halbirt said this is because the river side flooded often. Evidence of flooding
was found in one of the excavations.
"This is archaeological verification that the city grew west of Charlotte Street
and not along the bayfront," Halbirt said. "That growth has shown us that certain pre-conceived notions of what the town layout way like possibly
needs some modifications."
. Storms, high tides and hurricanes probably made the shoreline there flood
frequently. The castillo, however, is on higher ground. Halbirt believes the
shoreline had a much different configuration back then.
Page 2 of 3
Apparently, he said, the Spanish founders of St. Augustine did not build in
that marshy shore area until after 1700, when they began working on a stone
seawall, approximately where the west sidewalk on Avenida Menendez is
"They spent 60,000 pesos on the seawall, equivalent to hundreds of thousands of dollars now. They spent 138,000 pesos on the castillo, so the wall was half
the cost of the fort," he said.
Charles Tingley, of the St. Augustine Research Library, said there is a major
gap in the maps of St. Augustine. The earliest ones were the Boazio map,
drawn in 1586 by a British cartographer, and the Mexia map, drawn in 1594.
"Mexia knew St. Augustine very well, but he wasn't a terrific map maker, and
the other map was made by a good cartographer, but he was only here a few
days," Tingley said.
Tingley said it was suspected a long time that St. Augustine's development was concentrated west of Charlotte Street, because an auger survey done by University of Florida professor Kathy Deegan in 1978 found artifacts in that
area, but fewer along the bayfront.
"(Halbirt's) finding concrete evidence that there was very little occupation of that site up until (1700)," Tingley said. "It makes sense. The beach may have been further inland. To the best of my knowledge, there has been no
archaeological work done between Charlotte Street and the bayfront."
The original downtown St. Augustine extended south from the plaza to about where Bridge Street is today. The town was burned to the ground in 1586 by
Sir Francis Drake's men. A year later, the city saw an influx of residents when
the Spanish colony of Santa Elena, in South Carolina, was abandoned.
Halbirt said that in 1600, the city began to expand northward, especially after
the Castillo de San Marcos was built in 1672.
"Our excavations have shown that in the late 1600s, Charlotte Street was
probably the back yards of homes. We found an animal run, with post holes.
That's the only area we found that predates 1700," he said.
The city was burned a second time by the British in 1702, after a 51 day siege
by the forces of Gov. James Moore of South Carolina.
After that, the Spanish drew a new city plan and laid out new streets.
"Those modifications to the natural landscape resulted in the town plan we
have today," he said.
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3c2[ ^ R ( Page I of 2
Archaeologist: 'Study of trash' brings period of
history to life
By DIANE RODGERS
Special Projects Editor
Publication Date: 05/18/03
Don Domingo Reyes ate lots of fish and chicken, smoked a pipe and indulged
in a bit of gaming namely dice.
But Reyes lived in the 1800s. So how is it we know so much about his
It's all in the trash.
"Archaeology at its most elementary level is the study of trash," City
Archaeologist Carl Halbirt said. "When you're throwing away your trash,
you're throwing away your subconscious behavior."
Historical maps, which show property ownership and lot lines, indicate Reyes
and his family used a trash pit in their backyard between 1790 and 1810.
"It's a good archaeological feature that tells us how the people of that
particular periodlived," Halbirt said.
The trash pit is one of the discoveries that were buried under the site of the
Hilton Garden Inn Monson Bayfront Resort.
At 51,000 square feet, the Monson ranks as one of the city's largest
"This probably ranks in the top five of projects we've done in St. Augustine,"
Halbirt said. "But this one's probably the most complicated."
For one, Halbirt essentially investigated a city block. And, the site sits in the
heart of the city's colonial area, encompassing centuries of European
Halbirt found some artifacts dating into the 1600s. "But they have been very
few," he said.
Most have dated after 1702.
The reason lies in the water.
The Spanish constructed a sea wall in 1695 and 1705, so the site before then
was not under water, but probably quite damp.
"It's right against the bay, so it would be subject to periodic flooding," Halbirt
Page 2 of 2
Some artifacts of note include a decorated well cover; a dish made of pueblo polychrome; and a large, intact piece of annular ware, dated 1810-1840. "It's unusual to find a piece this big," Halbirt said. He also found an enlisted man's breastplate from the 2nd Seminole War, 1835-1842.
Halbirt, an assistant and his volunteers investigated 5 percent of the parking garage property. They documented more than 200 archaeology features and tens of thousands of artifacts.
"At one time Charlotte Street was the merchant street," he said. "That was where there was the most lot coverage in town," historian Susan Parker said.
Workers unloaded supplies at the dock and merchants sold their wares on the main commercial thoroughfare -- Charlotte Street. Charlotte was also home to many residents, she said.
Although the official archaeology dig ended, Halbirt still frequents the site and construction workers continue to collect artifacts. "We've dug below the archaeology," said Jerry Dixon, Monson architect. "What was there was a foundation that we've been mapping." Monson owner Kanti Patel will take some of the more displayable pieces for a display case in the hotel. He will probably donate the rest to the city, Halbirt said
"That way it stays in the city," he said. And Patel plans to display photos of the old swimming pool, which marked the site of civil rights protests in the 1960s, near the new swimming pool. He also donated parts of the pool and the steps where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in 1964 to the National African-American Archives and Museum.
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