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Sunday March 26th

UNC excavation reveals buildings under McCorkle Place

	<p>The <span class="caps">UNC</span> Research Labs of Archaeology have been digging up a cellar and drainage system dating back to the 1800s in McCorkle Place.</p>
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The UNC Research Labs of Archaeology have been digging up a cellar and drainage system dating back to the 1800s in McCorkle Place.

University archaeologists thought they had stumbled upon an old well in McCorkle Place.

One even older than the Old Well.

But after a week of digging up a plot of land next to Vance Hall, a team of undergraduates, graduate students and faculty believe what they had originally thought to be a well might actually have been a house and hotel.

University contractors first discovered remnants of historical property while preparing to install a new storm water pipe in October, said Steve Davis, associate director of UNC’s Research Laboratories of Archaeology.

David Cranford, a teaching assistant in the anthropology department, said the contractors notified the department. The contractors stopped working, Davis said, and the group began an excavation of the site Nov. 14.

The excavation, which is still ongoing, is being funded by UNC’s Facilities Planning and Construction.

After realizing that the historical remnants were not of a well, the group speculated that the site could be a large cellar or possibly an outhouse.

Now that they are further into the project, Davis and the group believe they have come across a backyard cellar they suspect was associated with a detached kitchen from a house that stood in the first half of the 1800s.

“As we get more exposed, we’re able to narrow down the likelihood of what it is,” he said.

“We have more confidence in our current interpretations.”

The first house built on the lot was constructed before 1797, Davis said.

He said the group also found a drain that might be from a hotel that stood after the Civil War before the University bought it and tore it down.

“In 1905, the University bought the property, tore down the hotel and built Battle, Vance and Pettigrew (Halls),” Davis said.

The group also found green-edged, pearlware plates that were brought over from England and used in the early 1800s, in addition to fragments of locally made plates most likely from southern Alamance County, Davis said.

“We’re really lucky that we have as much history and archaeology here that we do,” Cranford said.“I think a lot of people don’t realize that it’s right below their feet.”

The group members said they are excited about their findings and will analyze them in the spring.

“The artifacts tell us something about the lives of the people here who were living in the 1800s,” Davis said.

Mary Beth Fitts, a research assistant with the archaeology labs, said she thinks the findings will make students aware of UNC’s history.

“There’s a lot of stuff that happened that nobody knows about, so it gives us a more complete understanding of history of the University,” she said.

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