Beneath the Garden: Archaeology at Woodrow Wilson’s Birthplace opens Feb. 1

woodrow wilson presidential libraryThe Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum opens its newest temporary exhibit, “Beneath the Garden: Archaeology at Woodrow Wilson’s Birthplace” on Friday, Feb. 1.

The exhibit runs through Sunday, March 17.

Visitors will learn about the archaeological investigation conducted in the summer of 2018 behind the former First Presbyterian Manse located at the corner of North Coalter and East Frederick streets adjacent to downtown Staunton and Mary Baldwin University.

“We are excited to share the results of the excavations in our garden revealing the unknown history about this Staunton landmark.” said Curator, Andrew Phillips.

Conducted in July 2018, the project was undertaken to evaluate the integrity and information potential in the rear yard of the Manse with a long-term goal of an improved and more inclusive interpretation of the property’s historical landscape. The project would not have been possible without the guidance of Dr. Dennis B. Blanton of James Madison University and a host of volunteers who provided all the hands-on labor.

Recent background research using primary sources in the WWPL archives provided critical historic context and led to shovel tests being conducted in locations that were likely to contain discernable physical evidence throughout the properties many years of occupation. Artifacts on display in the current exhibit are representative of the period before the Manse was constructed, the years during which the structure was occupied by a succession of ministers including Woodrow Wilson’s father, and the over 80 years that the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library Foundation has owned the property.

Robin von Seldeneck, President and CEO said “We are excited about the next phase of this archaeology project in part because of the potential it provides to further engage with our community through hands-on experiences. We hope, with funding in place, to start the second phase of this project, in mid-July of this year.”

A JMU Archaeological Research Laboratory report subsequent to the excavation places the artifacts in the context of other similar projects in the Shenandoah Valley. The Foundation invites you to join them when Dr. Blanton presents a more in depth look at the project findings on Sunday, February 10th at 4:00 p.m. (snow date is Sunday February 24 at 4:00p.m)


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