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Site Name: Hotel Pontchartrain (aka Importer's Dump Site)

WSUMA Accession Nos.: 250, 1140

Site No.: 20WN270 (aka: WN-H15)

Excavated By: Arnold Pilling

Excavation Year(s): 1963

Site Description:

This site is located in Detroit , MI in the block bounded by Larned, Shelby , West Jefferson , and Washington Street . The site was brought to the attention of Arnold Pilling during the construction of Hotel Pontchartrain. During the 1780's, the site was a British urban and civilian dump. It was an American urban civilian dump in 1820, 1842 and 1848. The collection contains fragments of about 700 broken vessels altogether, in addition to some other sherds from 1780, 1820, 1842 and 1848.

Artifacts:

  • Ceramics: earthenware: North Staffordshire vessels. There are tens of thousands of pieces altogether. In addition to the ceramics, there are also pieces of bone present in this collection.
  • Faunal Remains
  • Glass
  • Misc.: comb fragments, gun flints

Cat. Nos.:

1W243183 - 1W243185; 1W243357 -1W244836; 1W223449 - 1W223500; 1W227151 - 1W227650; 1W227851 - 1W228179

References:

  • Maps, clippings, and also a report entitled “Pontchartrain Hotel Excavation.” [WSUMA # 11W442]
  • Pilling, Arnold (1963-1967) Pontchartrain lot information and numbers. Unpublished manuscript on file at WSU Museum of Anthropology. [# 11W741]
  • This manuscript contains information about the materials recovered from the various lots of the site.

Hotel Pontchartrain (aka: Importer's Dump site), Michigan site: MHD 20 WN270 and MB 8

This site was excavated in 1963 and is very unique in nature. The site was excavated because of the planned construction of the hotel. During the 1780's, the site was a British urban and civilian dump. It was an American urban civilian dump in 1820, 1832 and 1848. However, at one time, the site was home to a merchant who routinely imported goods from England . A ship arrived from England in 1829. Unfortunately, all of the ceramics that were ordered are believed to have been badly damaged during a storm that raged on the Great Lakes that year. Instead of moving the ceramics to another site, the importer just “dumped” them behind his shop and buried them there. Needless to say, the collection contains fragments of about 700 broken vessels altogether, in addition to some other sherds from 1780, 1820, 1842 and 1848.

The broken ceramics consist of mostly bowls, cups, saucers, and other types of dishes. The materials have been identified as earthernware, in particular they are North Stafford shire vessels. There are tens of thousands of pieces altogether. In addition to the ceramics, there are also pieces of bone present in this collection. This collection is most important because of its precedence. Before this collection, there had been no illustrations for nineteenth century ceramics. They had been identified largely by description prior to its unearthing. This collection includes catalogue numbers 1W243183 - 1W243185, 1W243357 -1W244836, 1W223449 - 1W223500, 1W227151 - 1W227650 and 1W227851 - 1W228179.

The museum has a manuscript which is related to this site. Manuscript # 11W442 includes maps, clippings, and also a report entitled “Pontchartrain Hotel Excavation.”

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