D.C. Historic Preservation Office takes on Hot and Humid 2016 Day of Archaeology Festival!

by Christine Ames
Capital City Fellow

Greetings and Happy Day of Archaeology (#DAYOFARCH)! The D.C. Historic Preservation Office (D.C. HPO) is proud to have co-sponsored and participated in D.C.’s Day of Archaeology Festival on July 16th!  This year marked the 5th Annual Day of Archaeology Festival, organized by the local non-profit Archaeology in the Community, and was held at historic Dumbarton House in Georgetown for the 2nd year in a row.  About 30 cultural resource-based agencies, firms, departments, and organizations participated, and over 500 visitors attended!  It was a huge success, and the D.C. HPO is thrilled to have reached out to so many eager children and adults, who now know more about their city’s archaeological past.

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It was all-hands-on-deck for D.C. HPO staff, interns, and volunteers- providing no less than four engaging archaeological activities and two archaeological displays. Activities included our staple ‘What is This?’ artifact guessing game, which has since grown to include prehistoric, historic, and faunal artifact categories of materials typically found in the mid-Atlantic region, and specifically from archaeological sites in D.C.

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We brought along our ‘Mend Me’ historic ceramic mending exercise, where visitors tried their hand at refitting ceramic sherds. We have since added to the mending exercise, creating puzzles with whole images of ceramic vessels.  These have proved a great alternative for those unable to handle the actual ceramic sherds.

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We also dusted off our Pinch Pot activity, and brought along quick-dry clay for visitors to make their own pots to take away.  Visitors could decorate their pots similarly to prehistoric Woodland Period pottery, using replica tools including sharks teeth, and cordage wrapped paddles. And, thanks to current District Leadership Program Intern Julianna Jackson, we added a new activity this year- Make Your Own Cordage!  Visitors were able to twine fibers into cordage or string, and then use it to create a personal bracelet.  In doing so, visitors got a better idea of how prehistoric peoples made their own personal adornments but also how they would create cordage suitable for so many important purposes like fishing lines, snares, etc.

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Finally, the D.C. HPO had two archaeological displays.  The first was our Woodland Period pottery display, featuring artifacts from the Barney Circle archaeological project.  Various types of prehistoric pottery sherds were on display, and to give the visitor a sense of what an unbroken prehistoric pottery vessel might look like, we also provided a complete replica Woodland Period pottery vessel, courtesy of the Jefferson Patterson Museum Maryland Traveling Trunk and a 3-D printed scan of one by our colleague Dr. Bernard K. Means of the VCU Virtual Curation Laboratory. In this way, the display tied in nicely to the pinch pot making activity. In addition, the D.C. HPO also displayed a variety of replica containers, also from the Maryland Teaching Trunk, made from organic materials such as gourd, birch bark, reed basketry, and wood. These were commonly used prehistorically, but examples are rarely found in our local archaeological deposits and so we know little about them in comparison to the more durable pottery vessels.

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Our second archaeological display contained a variety of artifacts from the 2015 Yarrow Mamout Archaeology Project.  The D.C. HPO conducted a community-oriented archaeology project on the former property of Yarrow Mamout, a freed slave who purchased a lot in upper Georgetown in the early 19th century.  The 17,000+ artifacts are still being processed, and while we cannot definitively say yet if any are directly associated with Yarrow Mamout’s occupation, there are many artifacts that are datable to his period of ownership.  Much of the assemblage represents the households of the families that lived on the property following Yarrow Mamout, throughout the remainder of the 19th and into the 20th century.  Artifacts included personal items such as religious pendants, crosses, and buttons, including potential U.S. Navy and Union Civil War-era buttons, and a possible German Imperial WWI-era button.  A D.C. dog tag from the year 1922-1923, porcelain doll parts, a plastic toy soldier, possible gaming pieces, and quite a few marbles made up a rich and relatable exhibit to all.  In addition, a beautiful and complete agate pottery doorknob, a heavily corroded door bolt (identified via x-ray scanning from the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Lab), Chestnut Farms Dairy milk bottle, and Parke-Davis pharmaceutical bottle were also a part of the display.

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In all, the D.C. HPO could not have pulled off such a successful Day of Archaeology Festival without its hard-working and amazing volunteer team.  Seven people gave up their Saturday to help us set-up, exhibit, and break-down our booths on a day when temperatures were 99 degrees Fahrenheit with 99% humidity!  Our volunteers have shown nothing but love and support to our archaeology program, and we could not effectively do this type of public outreach without them. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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The DC HPO Volunteers:

Lois Berkowitz

Mia Carey

Hali Thurber

Justin Uehlein

George Riseling

Becca Peixotto

Lauryl Zenobi

Photos courtesy of AITC and D.C. HPO

The DC HPO staff team:

Christine Ames, Capital City Fellow

Julianna Jackson, District Leadership Program Intern

Chardé Reid, Assistant District Archaeologist

Dr. Ruth Trocolli, District Archaeologist


Yarrow Mamout Archaeology Project Receives Mark E. Mack Community Engagement Award

As the D.C. Historic Preservation Office (HPO), within the Office of Planning, heads to the annual Middle Atlantic Archaeological Conference this weekend, we would like to share the special honor the Yarrow Mamout Archaeology Project received back in January, at the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA) annual meeting in Washington, D.C. The project, organized by D.C. HPO staff, was the third place recipient of the 2016 SHA Gender and Minority Affairs Committee’s (GMAC) inaugural Mark E. Mack Community Engagement Award. Award recipients included the D.C. City Archaeologist, Dr. Ruth Trocolli, Assistant City Archaeologist, Chardé Reid, Mia Carey, Ph.D. candidate at University of Florida and Project Field Director, and Charles LeeDecker, Project Archaeologist.

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[L-R] Chardé Reid, Mia Carey, Dr. Ruth Trocolli, Charles LeeDecker. Courtesy of SHA

The GMAC Mark E. Mack Community Engagement Award honors those who exhibit outstanding best practices in community collaboration, engagement, and outreach in their historical archaeology and heritage preservation work. This award is named after the late Howard University Professor Mark E. Mack (1961–2012). As a professor of anthropology, he regularly encouraged students to work with the public, gave community lectures, and attended civic meetings. In 2005, he was approached by an Adams Morgan community member to conduct a survey of a historic African American cemetery located partially within the Walter C. Pierce Community Park, a District-owned property. Professor Mack and his students conducted much of the work pro-bono, over and above their school commitments. Along with community members, he lobbied for funding to investigate and commemorate the historic African American cemetery, earning him and his students a 2007 Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation for Archaeology. Many of his former students on the survey team have gone on to successful careers or attended graduate school in the fields of archaeology, anthropology, or historic preservation. It is no surprise that former students of Professor Mack are part of the Yarrow Mamout project team.

The Yarrow Mamout Archaeology Project was conducted between June and November 2015, in order to identify and evaluate the historical integrity of the Georgetown property that once belonged to Yarrow Mamout, a prominent African Muslim living in early 19th century D.C. The project was initiated following the concerns of the Georgetown community and James Johnston, author of the 2012 book From Slave Ship to Harvard: Yarrow Mamout and the History of an African American Family. The property at 3324 Dent Pl., NW was on the brink of redevelopment and had never been investigated. Although the D.C. HPO had no clear legal mandate to require the property owner to conduct archaeological investigations, the property owner granted permission for the pro-bono project. To provide operating funds, neighbors established an account for donations administered by the non-profit D.C. Preservation League, and raised over $4000. Donors came from various demographic groups, including ethnic, educational, socioeconomic status, political, and religious. The funds were used for equipment and supplies, and shipping artifacts to the lab for analysis, but the largest amount was spent on rental of a mini-backhoe and operator for deep-testing and backfilling. The D.C. Office of Planning also provided funds for lot clearing, supplies, and permits, as well as office space, and staff time. The archaeological survey included manual excavation of shovel test pits and test units, mechanical testing, geoarchaeology, ground penetrating radar, and 3D photogrammetry. The team provided twice-daily fence talks and tours of the property when on site. Throughout the survey, team members gave public talks to community groups and media interviews on the project.

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Yarrow Mamout Archaeology Project Field Photos. Courtesy of DC HPO and volunteers.

The Yarrow Mamout Archaeology Project collaborated with Masjid Muhammad, of the Nation’s Mosque of America, to hold a funeral prayer ceremony for Mamout on the property. The event drew over 100 people and offered the local community a chance to explore a property that once belonged to a known African Muslim as well as encouraged a safe place to engage in dialogue about the history and contributions of African Muslims. This is especially significant during a time when Islamophobia is rampant, and Muslims are being persecuted for the acts of radical terrorist groups. The participants were touched with the care and attention given to Yarrow Mamout’s former property, and positive message about Muslim contributions to US history.

The overall purpose of the project was to conduct public outreach, promote education, engage with the neighborhood and various communities, and to bring attention to the little-known history of black Georgetown and of African Muslims. The project would not have been successful without its numerous volunteers who contributed substantial amounts of time and effort. The Yarrow Mamout story could not have unfolded without their unwavering support. A special thanks to local residents, D.C. agencies, federal agencies, local Cultural Resource Management firms, Washington Parks and People, the DC Preservation League, Archaeology in the Community, as well as Dan Wagner of Geo-Sci Consultants, Inc., Elizabeth Wilson of Tomb Geophysics LLC and students from Howard University (HU) and Georgetown University.


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Yarrow Mamout Funeral Prayer Service at 3324 Dent Place, August 2015. Courtesy of Washington Post and DCHPO.

The Mark E. Mack Award was presented on Friday, January 08, 2016. The GMAC committee jury, who proposed the creation of the Mark E. Mack Community Engagement Award, included: Justin Dunnavant, HU alumnus and former Mack student, Dr. Florie Bugarin, HU professor, Dr. Chris Fennell, and Dr. Chris Matthews. Two papers about the project were presented at the conference.

The D.C. HPO would like to thank the GMAC committee of the SHA. The D.C. HPO would also like to thank all of the donors, volunteers, and community members who contributed to the project as well as Margaret Cheney, property owner, who ensured that the legacy of Yarrow Mamout lives on. We could not have done this without you!

Summary of Approved Penthouse Changes

A summary of the recently approved changes to the Zoning Regulation penthouse provisions (Zoning Commission Case 14-13) is now available.  It is just a summary, though – for the complete regulations, refer to the Office of Zoning website (www.dcoz.dc.gov).  Also, until the final Order is published in the DC Register, which will happen soon, these changes are not in effect.

PARK(ing) Day 2015

PARK(ing) Day is a annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places. The Office of Planning’s space on 4th Street SW included a large checkerboard, a seating area, and two gardens made from shipping pallets.  We can’t wait until next year!

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Exploring Downtown with Golden Triangle BID

By Emily Pierson

Last Friday, Leona Agouridis, Executive Director of Golden Triangle Business Improvement District (BID), led OP Director Eric Shaw and several representatives from across the agency on a walking tour through downtown. The tour highlighted some of the initiatives Golden Triangle BID has spearheaded over the past few months, working with business owners, workers, and DC government agencies to enhance the environment in and around DC’s central business district.

pic 1pic 2Through their focus on sustainability, the Golden Triangle BID has been focusing on improving the sidewalks with landscaping.  In a partnership with the District Department of the Environment (DDOE), the BID built five rain gardens in Golden Triangle including one at 19th and L Streets.  The garden also includes stone seating and educational signage.

The BID has also worked with local businesses to improve the landscaping in front of buildings throughout Golden Triangle with the annual Golden Streets competition. Each year in the spring, businesses design and arrange trees, flowers, plants, and other landscape elements around a chosen theme. The entries are then voted on by the public and a panel of experts.   The photos below highlight this year’s expert’s choice featuring an “Earth, Wind, and Fire” theme on 17th Street between H and I (Eye) Streets.

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Easily the most successful initiative promoted by Golden Triangle BID has been Farragut Fridays, a weekly festival in Farragut Park during the summer months. On this particularly beautiful July Friday, hundreds of people came out for food trucks, games, fresh air, and sunshine. For these events, Golden Triangle BID provides additional outdoor seating with umbrellas, an “outdoor office,” ping pong tables and corn hole games, and tents for educating visitors to the park on the BID’s mission and initiatives. The vibrant weekly event draws local office workers, tourists, and lunch-seekers from all over downtown. With a great relaxed and fun atmosphere, the park is truly a place for everyone. Be sure to check it out next Friday!

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The 2015 Yarrow Mamout Archaeological Project

by Mia Carey

Yarrow Mamout was a Muslim slave who purchased property at 3324 Dent Place on February 8th, 1800, four years after receiving his freedom. Mamout served the Beall family of Maryland and Georgetown for over forty years after arriving in Annapolis, Maryland in 1752. He is thought to have been born in Guinea, West Africa ca. 1736 before being sold into slavery at the tender age of 16. When  he in arrived in Maryland, Yarrow was able to read and write in Arabic, which suggests that he may have been a wealthy member of his Fulani tribe. Mamout received his manumission  papers on August 22, 1796 as a reward for being a good and faithful servant.  By 1803, Mamout had transferred the property deed to his fifteen year old son, Aquilla.

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Despite losing his savings twice to insolvent merchants, Mamout amassed a savings of $200 which he then used to purchase shares at the Bank of Georgetown.The interest accrued from these shares allowed Yarrow to live out the rest of his life comfortably. He was known for his skills as a brick-maker and basket-weaver,  his experience working on a ship, and his extensive understanding of real estate, finance, and law. Yarrow became well-known in 1819 after Charles Wilson Peale painted his portrait (which now hangs in the Atwater Museum in Philadelphia). When Peale arrived in Georgetown he heard of a man rumored to be 140 years old and sought out Yarrow; during his session he recorded Yarrow’s account of his life in his diary. A second portrait of Yarrow was painted in 1822 by James Alexander Simpson, which now hangs in the Peabody Room of the Georgetown Public Library. According to an obituary circulated by Peale, Yarrow died on January 19, 1823 and is rumored to be buried in the place in which he prayed.

Much of the historical information was developed by James H. Johnston in his book “From Slave Ship to Harvard: Yarrow Mamout and the History of an African American Family.”

For more information, see:

Website: www.yarrowmamoutarchaeology.weebly.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YarrowMamoutArchaeology?skip_nax_wizard=true

“Our RFP”—Community-Based Pilot Process for Parcel 42

Over sixty District residents joined the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) and the DC Office of Planning (OP) for the Our RFP Parcel 42 Public Workshop on Saturday, June 13. Our RFP is Mayor Bowser’s initiative to engage District residents early on in the request for proposals (RFP) process used to redevelop District owned property. Our RFP ensures that the public’s perspective and priorities are incorporated with the District’s goals throughout the entire process. Parcel 42, located at the intersection of 7th and R Streets NW, is the first pilot of the Our RFP process.


At the June 13th workshop, participants had small group discussions about building uses, design, and sustainability. During these discussions, many people expressed interest in unique ground floor uses including incubator space, workforce development services, live/work studios, or office space for District services. When the conversation turned to potential uses of the upper floors of a building on the site, residents discussed a range of ideas, including incorporating affordable housing on the site. During a discussion about the design and sustainability, residents thought a new building on Parcel 42 should be architecturally significant, include green and sustainable best practices, and showcase art within the public realm.

All of this feedback will be analyzed and reviewed by DMPED, which, after receiving additional input at a July follow-up meeting, will develop an RFP to redevelop Parcel 42.

But we still want to hear from you!

Continue to share your thoughts through June 30th about the future of Parcel 42 online at parcel42dc.mindmixer.com or in person at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 317, Washington, DC 20004.

A public follow-up meeting will be held on the evening of July 28th at the Shaw library to discuss how all the feedback should be incorporated into a RFP to redevelop Parcel 42. For more information about the Parcel 42 Our RFP please visit dmped.dc.gov/ourrfp_Parcel42 or email parcel42@dc.gov.