Building foundation believed to predate colonial courthouse

by Kim Robins - Posted on Jul 27, 2011 - 04:20 PM

Photo: Working next to the Gloucester court circle wall on Monday, local archaeologists Thane Harpole, at left, and David Brown paused to discuss how to best proceed with what lies at their feet. The two have been documenting a discovery recently uncovered by the Gloucester Main Street enhancement project. Photo by Kim Robins.

Working next to the Gloucester court circle wall on Monday, local archaeologists Thane Harpole, at left, and David Brown paused to discuss how to best proceed with what lies at their feet. The two have been documenting a discovery recently uncovered by the Gloucester Main Street enhancement project. Photo by Kim Robins.

Photo:
The Gloucester Main Street enhancement project has uncovered something that may also enhance our knowledge of local history. Last Thursday, work on the project uncovered the foundation of a building that may predate the 1766 colonial courthouse.

"It could have existed sometime before the court building, which would make it of great significance to the evolution of this town that would become Gloucester Court House," said archaeologist David Brown. "It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to look at a colonial building that predates the courthouse."

Brown and archaeologist Thane Harpole are monitoring the project excavations and have been documenting what has been uncovered. "We believe it is an 18th century foundation, but how early is still undetermined," Brown said. "It appears to be the north end of a rectangular building, and appears to be partially underneath the colonial courthouse. There is also a tremendous amount of burn material, indicating the building burned or there was a fireplace."

The foundation is constructed of handmade bricks and oyster shell mortar laid in English bond, Brown said, and is two bricks wide. Inside the foundation wall, chunks of wine bottles, bits of delftware and a large animal bone are clearly visible.