The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Archeology search set at court site
BY ROBYN SIDERSKY
There may be historic treasures below where the new courthouse will be built in Fredericksburg.
Or there may be nothing.
That’s what archaeologists from Fredericksburg-based Cultural Resources Inc. will find out when they begin digging at the site at the corner of Princess Anne and Charlotte streets next week.
With the demolition of the former Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courthouse building nearly finished, the city wants to determine if anything of value can be found underground before construction begins.
When the city’s Architectural Review Board granted permission for the demolition, the board asked that the archaeological evaluation be done when the demolition was completed.
So the city put out a request-for-proposals and received five responses, said Bob Antozzi, director of Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities.
The city interviewed the top three and awarded the contract to CRI, he said.
The cost will not exceed $34,000, he said.
The evaluation is expected to take about six weeks and at the end of it, the archaeologists will determine if a second phase is needed based on their findings.
The archaeologists will work with several organizations, including the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, to search for information about the site, inventory other historical documents, maps aerial photos, Civil War studies and any information that the city might have about the site.
They’ll also visit the city’s library and the Library of Congress, speak with other local preservation organizations, such as the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Antozzi said.
They’ve already started the research phase of the project, he said.
The spot has been home to a variety of buildings over the years, according to a timeline compiled by HFFI.
Some of the uses included a two-story livery and a blacksmith shop in 1907 and in 1927, a two-story 40-car capacity garage and miscellaneous other associated buildings, including an auto repair shop, “stone cutting” structure and smaller auto garage, according to the timeline.
After 1927 it was a two-story funeral home.
The earliest entry on the timeline is from 1788, when the lot was owned by William Jackson.
A similar archeological search was conducted in 2006 before the nearby Marriott Courtyard hotel was built.
Crews then found what was believed to be the foundation of a structure that may have been a former slave quarters.
The work revealed details about the way Fredericksburgers of the 18th and early 19th centuries lived, as archaeologists study what remained of the Indian Queen hotel, which stood on the corner of Caroline and Charlotte streets from 1771 until it burned in 1832.
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413