Renaissance Center

Site Name:

Renaissance Center (aka Detroit Riverfront Development, Ford Riverfront Development, Ford Development, Ren Cen)

WSUMA Accession Nos.:

1149, 1162, 1163, 1164, 1169, 1171, 1171, 1181, 1183, 1185, 1188, 1189, 1195, 1207, 1208, 1279, 1282  

Site No.:


Excavated By:

Stephen Demeter

Excavation Year(s):

1973, 1974

Site Description:

The Renaissance Center Site was excavated in 1973 and 1974 prior to construction of the Renaissance Center by a private contractor, in assocition with the Detroit Historical Society. A French family (the Beaubiens) owned a farm at this site in 1833. This information was in part yielded by a piece of a newspaper found at the site that was dated April 3rd, 1833. In addition, the site was the home of businesses, warehouses, taverns and boarding houses throughout it's history.

There were 25 privies eventually identified at the site dating from 1825 to 1850. The presence of the privies is what gives the site its unique significance. Often during the 1800s, people would throw their trash into their privies. Because of this, a wealth of materials were gathered from the Renaissance Center site.


  • The materials from the Renaissance Center site number in the thousands
  • Ceramics:

    • Porcelain
    • Pearlware: transfer printed (red, green, blue, and purple), hand-painted blue and white and polychromatic, blue and green edged
    • Whiteware: plain and molded relief
    • Gray stoneware
    • Yellow ware (some is banded)
    • Factory-made Slipware: dendritic, cabled, cat's eye, and slip trailed
    • Redware
    • Rockingham ware
  • Clay Pipes:

    • complete as well as numerous bowl and stem fragments
  • Faunal Remains:

    • (over 3000 bones) Collections include:
      • bird (goose, chicken, passenger pigeon and unidentified birds)
      • fish ( Icaluridae, Percidae, Cyprinidae, Scianidae, Contrarchidae and unidentified fish)
      • mammal
      • mollusk
  • Glass:

    • bottles and bottle fragments, including colored glass and transparent glass.
  • Leather:

    • footwear
  • Metal:

    • iron fragments 
    • nails 
    • metal pieces
  • Soil samples

Cat. Nos.:

  • 1W320001-1W323332 (Animal bone), 1W374526 - 1W375995 , 1W261341-1W262810, 1W370014 - 1W371000, 1W300000 - 1W307668


  • Mudar, Karen (1977) “ Renaissance Center Salvage Project: Faunal Remains Technical Report.” Unpublished manuscript on file at WSU Museum of Anthropology. [# 11W279]
  • Taylor , Kent Charles (1992) “Analysis of early nineteenth century footwear from the Renaissance Center site, Detroit : Economic, Socio-cultural and Environmental Determinants.” Master's Thesis, Dept. of Anthropology Wayne State University, Detroit , MI  
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