It happened quickly and without comment Oct. 24 as part of the Vienna Town Council’s unanimously approved consent agenda, but the Council voted for a lease addendum that will allow Historic Vienna Inc. (HVI) to dig for archaeological treasures on the Freeman Store & Museum’s grounds.
HVI leases the property from the town and needed the Council’s approval for the survey and excavations, the pits of which will be covered when not in use and filled in and resodded when work is finished.
HVI on Nov. 21, 2021, had a non-invasive survey made of the site using ground-penetrating radar and had a local archaeologist analyze the results.
The group now will foot the entire cost of $19,530 to have The Ottery Group Inc. of Kensington, Md., conduct a 10-day excavation at several locations on the site.
The company will focus its efforts in 1-by-1-meter locations along the barn area or road in the front side yard; two spots, possibly wells or privies, next to and behind the Freeman Store; and the backyard area by the current brick patio. Workers also will conduct “shovel pit tests” the size of 14-inch-diameter pizzas every 10 meters in identified areas of interest. Those pits will go only as deep as necessary to find undisturbed dirt, HVI leaders said.
Work will need to be completed before events kick off at the Freeman Store next spring. The Ottery Group will document, wash, catalog, bag and tag all of the artifacts discovered – estimates are there could be 500 to 700 of them – and HVI will be in charge of their long-term storage, possibly using Fairfax Archaeology as the repository.
The Freeman Store has been located at 131 Church St., N.E., since 1859 and was used by both Union and Confederate troops in the Civil War.