Category Archives: Archaeology Surveys

Fall 2015

(originally posted on October 22, 2015)

This Fall’s edition of What’s New showcases archaeologists in the field, historical building surveys, a special achievement for one of HDC’s marquee projects, and a special treat from Donut, the office beagle

Stewart Elementary School project achieves LEED for Schools Silver Certification

Stewart Elementary School in the German Village neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio

In August 2015, Stewart Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio, was awarded LEED for Schools Silver Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for its sustainable design and construction methods. Hardlines Design Company, the project’s Architect of Record, led a team that consisted of Columbus City Schools (Owner), Schooley Caldwell Associates (Associate Architect), MKSK Studios (Landscape Architects), Korda/Nemeth Engineering (MEP Engineers), Kabil Associates (Structural Engineers), Williams Interior Design (Furnishings), Smoot Elford Resource (Construction Manager) and Miles McClellan Construction Company (Contractor) to implement 51 points towards the school’s  certification.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the nationally-accepted benchmark for the design, construction, maintenance and operation of green buildings. LEED ratings are based on a point system that measures the impact on the environment and those who use the building. The school’s sustainable design and construction efforts included:

  • Water savings of more than 20% through the use of low-flow fixtures and faucets.
  • Energy cost savings of 34% by utilizing a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VFR) system for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning to optimize energy performance.
  • Diverted more than 861 tons of construction waste from the landfill, or about 96% of all construction waste generated.
  • Using more than 10 percent recycled materials and 10 percent regionally sourced materials in the building’s construction, thereby saving transportation and production costs.
  • Rehabilitating an existing downtown structure to minimize demolition waste and combat sprawl, eliminating the need associated with new buildings to clear new land and build new roads and other infrastructure.

HDC Archaeologists Complete Fieldwork on Prehistoric Sites in Maryland

HDC archaeologist Terry Glaze excavates a test unit in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland

In August and September of 2015, HDC archaeologists were tasked by AECOM/URS to evaluate six prehistoric sites located within the construction limits for the expansion of Maryland Route 404 in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. The six sites had been previously identified after a survey in 1990, with no further work conducted until this year. Working in the steaming late summer weather of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, HDC excavated 378 shovel test pits and 56 one-meter-square test units at the six sites, recovering approximately 1,600 artifacts. The artifacts mainly consisted of debitage, with a limited amount pottery, projectile points, fire-cracked rocks, and groundstone tools recovered as well, along with a handful of historical artifacts dating from the mid-1700s to the present. The sites appeared to represent a series of short-term resource procurement camps. Analysis of these sites for National Register eligibilty is ongoing.

HDC surveys historic resources at the NASA Glenn Research Center

Building 4 at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Brook Park, Ohio

HDC was sub-contracted by Ross Barney Architects to conduct a Historic Resources Survey and National Register of Historic Places assessment for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at Glenn Research Center (GRC) at Lewis Field in Brook Park, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. The survey and National Register assessment included architectural survey of the exteriors of all standing structures within the Central Area of GRC, development of a historic context, and recommendations for a National Register-eligible district. The survey and National Register evaluation was completed to assist NASA and GRC in maintaining compliance with Sections 106 and 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, and to provide guidance for the management of historically significant built resources on the campus.

The GRC is highly significant in the history of American aeronautics. In 1940, the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA), the precursor to NASA, acquired land near the Cleveland airport for an aeronautics research facility, the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory. The focus of this facility would be on developing and improving liquid-cooled and air-cooled engines. Over the years, this facility would contribute to advances in turbojet technology, deicing, and rocket propulsion.

HDC staff performed the survey in June and documented 128 buildings, structures, and objects. After evaluating the resources, HDC proposed the creation of a historic district composed of 82 contributing resources. In addition, HDC recommended that two wind tunnel complexes, the 8×6 Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel complex and the 10×10 Foot Supersonic Wind Tunnel complex, are individually eligible for the National Register, in addition to contributing to the proposed GRC historic district. HDC also recommends that Building 4, the Flight Research Building, is individually eligible for the National Register and contributes to the proposed historic district, because it is the most iconic building on the GRC campus, and the building retains the integrity necessary to convey its significance as a large open hanger and support facilities still used to house aircraft for GRC.

Donut’s First Movie!

Donut the Beagle has often been the target of still photographers since she first arrived at the office in 2004. When she posed for a photograph with Santa Claus at a local Petsmart, the photographer commented that she was “very attentive for a beagle.” (Was that a compliment?) When HDC president Charissa Durst first got a smartphone with video, she made test videos of Donut running around the backyard. It wasn’t until this year that she attempted to edit one of her videos and add free online music to it. This video shows Donut actually swimming in Big Darby Creek at Prairie Oaks Metro Park, with music by The Builders and the Butchers called “Cradle on Fire.”


Spring 2014

(originally posted by Andy Sewell on April 15, 2014)

Welcome to Hardlines Design Company’s Spring 2014 update! As I write this, it sure doesn’t seem like spring, with snow on the ground and 30-degree temperatures, but that just exemplifies how the weather was a big factor in our projects during the last quarter, with numerous weather-related schedule modifications. Despite the weather, HDC archaeologists managed to complete two field projects; more on those in another post. Other updates of note include the following:

HDC Completes Work on Mulzer Mill Plaques for Highbanks Metro Park in Delaware, Ohio

HDC recently completed the design of two interpretive signs for the Ohio Department of Transportation, Office of Environmental Services (ODOT-OES). The signs were created to commemorate the site of the former Mulzer Mills and an associated house located near the intersection of State Route 315 (SR 315) and West Powell Road, at the northwest corner of Highbanks Metro Park in Delaware County. As part of a mitigation effort for the construction and alterations on this intersection, ODOT-OES agreed to install interpretative signs to commemorate the former mill complex, whose foundation ruins were sited within the construction zone. These signs will be erected along the walking path along the Olentangy River in Highbanks Metro Park.

HDC used historic and modern photographs and brief descriptions in the design of the signs to allow for the best possible user experience. Potential sign designs were reviewed and improved over a series of meetings with the public until the text, photographs, and overall design of the signs were approved. High-pressure laminate signs were chosen over the traditional bronze plaque, as they allowed for images and more detailed written descriptions of the site. After the design phase was completed, HDC was able to work with Fossil Industries, a high pressure laminate sign company operating in Deer Park, New York, to have the signs manufactured. Because of the low cost offered by the high pressure laminate versus bronze, an extra sign panel for each sign was delivered to Highbanks Metro Park to provide a spare in case a sign is vandalized or destroyed by an act of nature. The weather this winter has delayed the final installation of the signs, but Highbanks Metro Park will have the signs installed later this spring.

HDC CRM staff attend GAPP conference

HDC was well represented at the Gas and Preservation Partnership (GAPP) Conference, held in the ballroom of the Fairmont Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A historian and archeologist from HDC attended the conference, which is aimed at formulating a working partnership between historic preservation professionals and the oil and gas production industry. The boom in natural gas production in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania has resulted in a substantial increase in hydraulic fracturing. or “fracking’” projects. Because these projects are currently exempted from federal environmental permitting, fracking projects are not legally required take into account any impact to cultural resources. To address the concern of preservationists about the impact of fracking on cultural resources, GAPP hopes to create a voluntary “best practices” approach for the fracking industry to follow regarding the treatment of cultural resources without requiring additional government regulations. HDC will continue to stay appraised of this developing partnership, and will continue to work to preserve and document cultural resources, hopefully with the help and support of the oil and gas industry.

HDC’S Camp Perry Project Nears Completion

Construction on HDC’s project at four barracks buildings and the historic chapel at Camp Perry in Port Clinton, Ohio, is now nearing completion after a slowdown due to excessive cold. The project involved replacement of the asphalt shingle roof with metal, new metal soffit, fascia, gutters, and downspouts at two barracks; and replacement of existing siding, door, and windows at the other two barracks. Exterior work for the historic chapel consisted of washing, tuckpointing, and resealing the brick masonry, along with repair/replacement of fascia, soffits, steeple vents, exterior doors, and entry steps. Interior work included painting the chapel space as well as replacing the aisle carpet and refinishing the woodwork. HDC was also commissioned to prepared construction documents for a new HVAC system at two of the barracks, which would be bid at a later date when funding became available. Construction started in August of 2013 with construction completion in mid-April 2014.

Hard to Believe, but Donut the Beagle turned 10 Years Old on March 25!

This event almost slipped HDC’s collective mind if it wasn’t for an email from her vet reminding us of her birthday and upcoming vaccinations.  The year 2004 went by very slowly with her weekly training classes and daily homework assignments, but once she stopped deliberately biting people, time seem to just speed by!


As you can see in her 2004 photograph, Donut was like a cartoon of a “cute puppy.” This image was once posted on the Daily Puppy website and one of the comments received was “with that face she could get away with murder!” Well, she did get away with biting everyone who touched her but luckily we were able to get her to stop after she was 7 months old. In her early photographs, many people also commented on the “wild animal” look in her eyes.

Like Bagle her predecessor, Donut started going gray at the age of 5 in 2009. However, Sadie the Beagle didn’t go gray until she was 10. Our theory is that beagles (dogs) who are smart and worry a lot go gray by age 5, and those that don’t think about things too much, like Sadie, keep their color until sheer age catches up with them. Donut definitely calmed down by the time she turned one, which led one engineer to comment that she was like a totally new dog. In this Christmas photograph, Donut definitely looks calm!

In 2013 Donut was taken to one of the Columbus Metroparks on nice weekend days. After the recent polar vortex winter, Donut started going to a park whenever the weather was sunny and over 40 degrees Fahrenheit. We’ve learned that it takes a couple of miles to take the edge off her and get her to stop pulling at the leash, and after 5 to 7 miles she’s happily tired and ready for a nap. In this photograph, Donut also needed a long bath to wash the melting snow/mud off her!

A Plantagenet under Pavement: Urban Archaeology can reveal surprises

(by Andy Sewell, originally posted February 11, 2013)

One of the biggest archaeology stories to hit the news recently has been the discovery of the remains of Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England, underneath a parking lot in Leicester, England.  Richard III (1452-1485; ruled 1483-1485) was killed in battle, and buried at Greyfriars friary. Over the years, the knowledge of the grave’s location was lost to history, and successive waves of building at the location led many to assume the site was destroyed over time. However, a project specifically designed to locate Richard’s remains was conducted by a joint effort of the University of Leicester, the Leicester City Council, and the Richard III Society. Using historical maps, the team identified the former location of Greyfriars, under a modern parking lot, and began excavations.  Very quickly, the team found a burial of an adult male, showing evidence of death in battle and exhibiting a spinal deformity, matching the physical description of Richard III (Shakespeare famously described him as “deformed” and “unfinished” in his play Richard III).  DNA testing of descendants of the Plantagenet line confirmed that the body was in fact that of the king. Richard III apparently suffered mortal wounds to the head, and received other wounds at or just after death, likely by Tudor soldiers who intended to desecrate the body. Richard’s body was displayed publically, then buried in the garden at Greyfriars.

What is truly notable about the discovery of the remains of Richard III is the fact that the grave survived intact over centuries of development. All too often, urban archaeological projects must face the preconception that development over the years has erased all traces of what was there before. Urban archaeologists, however, are well aware this is not always the case. In fact, as the discovery of Richard III attests, significant archaeology sites are often just below our feet as we go about our daily lives.

In the United States, the most famous (and perhaps infamous) urban archaeological site is the African Burial Ground in New York City.  The burial ground operated as a cemetery for New York City’s enslaved African population from ca. 1690 to 1794, and was filled over in the nineteenth century to prepare the land for development. A department store was built on the site in 1846. In 1991, a new federal office building was planned for the site. Although planners were aware that the location was formerly a burial ground, they assumed that the site had been completely destroyed through two centuries of urban development. However, burials began showing up during the excavation of the building’s foundation, setting off a controversy that was finally resolved with the redesign of the project to avoid areas predicted to have the highest probability for intact burials and the dedication of a memorial on the site. Study of the excavated remains have yielded much information about the lives of New York City’s earliest African-American inhabitants.

Important archaeological sites in urban locations are not only associated with the people who lived in those communities, but with populations that lived hundreds and even thousands of years before. Even today, excavations in East St. Louis, Illinois, continue to find evidence of Mississippian urbanization associated with the mound center of Cahokia. Excavations associated with a new bridge project have uncovered thousands of house patterns and the base of a previously unknown pyramid mound, in an area that was formerly industrial in nature. Closer to home here in Columbus, Hardlines Design Company has participated in urban archaeology projects of much lesser scale than those in Leicester, New York, or East St. Louis, but prove nonetheless that significant archaeology sites can exist under the modern urban landscapes of Ohio.

In 2007, Hardlines conducted limited archaeological testing at the location of the new Franklin County Courthouse at Mound and High streets in downtown Columbus, Ohio. The objective of the dig was to test the proposition that there were areas within the new courthouse location with intact archaeological deposits. After removing the asphalt in the archaeological testing area, archaeologists uncovered two building foundations, two brick-lined privies, a brick path, and a possible unlined privy, plus two other possible shaft features were noted outside the area where the pavement was removed. One test unit recovered 677 artifacts, including 554 historical artifacts, 17 prehistoric artifacts, and 106 faunal remains. The soil layers appear to be intact, with the oldest (prehistoric) artifacts located in the deepest soil layers and the youngest artifacts nearest the surface, with limited mixing of material. Due to the nature of the project and its funding sources, no further archaeological excavation was performed; however, the limited excavations at the site demonstrated that there is a great potential for the discovery of significant archaeological sites within the urban core of Columbus.

Further afield, Hardlines performed intensive excavations at a Late Prehistoric/Fort Ancient site in Lawrence County that was under a late twentieth century subdivision. Despite disturbances from nineteenth century agricultural practices and twentieth century house construction and installation of  utilities such as septic tanks, several intact prehistoric features were found during excavations, often just next to modern disturbances.  Large numbers of artifacts, including lithic tools, pottery, and food remains, were recovered from these features.

Finally, Hardlines has been working on a project at Salem Maritime National Historic Site in Salem, Massachusetts, investigating the site of the earliest warehouse on Derby Wharf, dating to 1765. The project is ongoing, but has demonstrated that despite nearly two hundred years of development and landfilling, and subsequent land disturbance through renovations of the wharf by the National Park Service, evidence for the warehouse is still present at the location.

What does all this mean for assessing the probability that a significant archaeological site is located in an urban setting? Well, while it is highly unlikely that your parking lot is covering the burial of a king, it is possible that an important archaeological site could be present. How does one go about determining if this is the case? Thorough research into the land use history of a parcel is one key component, using historical maps, photographs, and other documents. Especially useful are Sanborn fire insurance maps, which can be used to construct a detailed picture of development on a piece of property over time. Identifying building locations and landfilling episodes are key to locating areas where archaeological sites may survive, as well as documenting locations that are thoroughly disturbed. Knowledge of prehistoric cultural lifeways is critical, as many cities and towns are located in areas that were highly attractive for settlement in the pre-Columbian period: close to water, elevated above flood plains, and well-drained. Finally, archaeological testing of your property is always a good idea if you cannot determine with research that there is no possibility for survival of archaeological deposits through development.  Keeping the possibility of intact archaeological sites at an urban development site in mind and accounting for it in project planning may pay off in avoiding controversy at a later date, even if there are no funding or permitting requirements calling for archaeological assessment of the project location.

Understanding a Shaker Shop with Historical Archaeology and Architecture

(by Andy Sewell, originally posted February 10, 2012)

In 2005, Hardlines Design Company (HDC) was tasked by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to conduct a Phase III archaeological data recovery at the historic Shaker community of Union Village as part of the realignment of State Route 741 in Warren County, Ohio. The part of Union Village that we examined was the North Family Lot, which included a communal house and numerous shops and outbuildings, and was occupied by the Shakers from 1815 until 1906. No buildings survive at the site.

One enigmatic building was the Pottery/Broom shop, shown below in the only known historical photograph. Before our study, little was known about this building, but our historical research revealed that it went through several phases of renovations. The building began as a one-story brick smith shop in 1826, and in 1836, an addition was built to convert the building into a pottery; then in 1852, a second story was added to convert the shop into a space for making brooms.

The Pottery/Broom Shop at the North Family Lot, ca. 1915

Archaeological investigations revealed two styles of foundation. One foundation was built solely of brick, and a second one butted up against the brick foundation but was made of limestone, raising the question: Which foundation is the original smith shop, and which is the 1836 pottery addition? One hypothesis was that the original foundation was the limestone one, as the communal house and other early shops have similar foundations. Bill Faciane, an architectural engineer with HDC, visited the excavations and determined that the two foundations showed differences in the mortar–lime was present in the limestone foundation, but the brick foundation had only sand–indicating that the foundations were built at different times. Bill noted too that a southern interior foundation was brick, while a similar foundation to the north was limestone. Excavation of the trenches for the foundations also revealed a key difference: The trenches on the brick foundation had relatively few artifacts, while the trenches on the limestone foundation were filled with cast-off pot sherds from the pottery.

Hardlines Design Company archaeology crew excavating the Pottery/Broom shop location

Through the coalition of these three lines of inquiry and expertise, HDC was able to disprove the original hypothesis and instead conclude that it was the brick foundation that was the original smith shop, and the limestone foundation was the addition built when the pottery was active at the site. Further examples of how the synthesis of historical, architectural, and archaeological studies contributed to the understanding of the North Family Lot can be found in the four-volume report on the project, available as free PDFs at this link:

Encountering the Shakers of the North Family Lot, Union Village, Ohio