We found the church! At least we found a possible foundation located where the west wall of the church should be. It’s not as substantial a construction as we expected – so we have a lot of questions to answer and more digging to do. Archaeology almost always works this way. You may or may not find what you are looking for, but you always end up with more questions than when you started.
Natalie documenting the wall. It doesn’t look like much in this picture, but it is the linear mass in the foreground with a limestone block on top of it.
The wall we found is about a foot thick. It includes sturdy limestone blocks held together by a very friable concrete. Our first question is whether this is a load bearing wall, or an interior wall? It’s location, running parallel to Asbury Street, suggests it is the outer wall. We need to uncover more of the wall, however, to be sure we have an intact section and not just a chunk of wall floating in the fill layer. Digging deeper will also tell us whether the wall is actually thicker than it appears. Possibly we’re just looking at a narrow remnant of a more substantial wall.
I find the friable cement very curious. It literally brushes away when we try to clean it up. I’m assuming that the church was built before Portland cement became common in construction. Can we determine what kind mortar was used and whether it’s poor condition is to be expected? Maybe the fire weakened the foundation?
Who were the craftspeople that built this wall? What kind of construction techniques did they employ? Was the church built in a standard or vernacular style, or did the craftspeople add unique touches based on their backgrounds and experience?
Besides the wall, we also found some decorative cement work and a small piece of blue flat glass (from a stained glass window?). I’ll write more about these later. I’m excited about the possibility that these finds will add to our knowledge about the architectural details incorporated into the church.