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Hampton, VA

The Goodyear Tire Store lot, scheduled for demolition and redevelopment by the City of Hampton, had a high probability for containing significant archaeological remains. It was situated in the heart of colonial Hampton and previous archaeological excavations at the neighboring Virginia Air and Space Center, Carousel Park, Radisson Hotel Hampton, and the Booker T. Washington Bridge realignment revealed extensive and well-preserved seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth-century structures and features. During the expansion of Settlers Landing Road and enhancement of the sidewalk, archaeological monitoring identified brick foundations, a well, and colonial refuse in the immediate vicinity of the Goodyear Tire Store lot.

JRIA was contracted by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to conduct a survey of the threatened area; and the testing uncovered the bullkhead entrance for an English basement that dated to the 18th century. Based on this information, the City of Hampton contracted with JRIA to undertake a data recovery excavation of the block prior to contraction.

JRIA conducted a 9 month excavation of the block along King Street. Using mechanical equipment and hand excavation, JRIA uncovered the rest of the English basement, part of the foundation of an 18th-century dependency, one 17th-century post-in-the-ground building, two 18th-century post-in-the-ground buildings (one thought to be a store and the other a kitchen), one wood-lined 19th-century privy, one barrel-lined 18th-century well, two barrel-lined 19th-century wells, one cobble-lined 18th century well, and an extensive 18th-century midden or refuse area. The building with the English basement proved to have originally been constructed ca. 1660 as a post-in-the-ground structure with root cellars. It was replaced and expanded by brick-lined basements in the 18th-century and eventually was burned in 1861. Overall, the excavation revealed an important aspect of how this part of Elizabeth City County was transformed into the City of Hampton in the late 17th century and also how Hampton and its inhabitants changed during the crucial, and often under-represented, period of transition from colony to the early Federal period. Further, the excavation illuminated how Hampton evolved as a city that rivaled Norfolk and Yorktown when so few other urban communities developed in the Chesapeake during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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