An archaeological study is taking place this week at Historic Carson House in order to find the foundation for a structure that once existed on the property.
Archaeologist David Moore from Warren Wilson College and his staff are performing a dig at the Carson House. They started their work on Monday and it will take place every day this week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m..
What they are looking for is the foundation of an addition to the Carson House that existed more than 100 years ago.
“This is a one-week project to document the foundations of an L addition to the house that is no longer there,” said Moore to The McDowell News.
He said he and his archaeological team are working with the Carson House’s board of directors to determine precisely where that addition was located.
The house’s board is planning to build an interpretative or visitors center behind the house. It will have more exhibits, modern facilities and offices. But this study has to be completed before any earth-disturbing construction activity is started. The study will include opportunities for science teachers, students and the public to learn and participate.
Martha Jordan, executive director of Historic Carson House, said the structure was built around 1843. It was meant to be a kitchen and there were five rooms upstairs. It was connected to the house with a covered walkway.
The wood-frame structure was built around the time that McDowell County was formed. The Carson House served as the first seat of county government for the newly created McDowell and the first county commission meetings were held there.
During the Civil War, Emma Rankin was a schoolteacher living there and she wrote an account of when the Union soldiers under Gen. George Stoneman raided the Carson House in the spring of 1865. She wrote that her room was located within this section.
Sometime after 1900, the addition was removed from the property.
“We don’t know if it was taken down or burned or washed away,” said Jordan.
Moore and his archaeological team are now trying to determine the location of this structure and if any artifacts are still on the site.
His team consists of laboratory supervisor Abra Johgart and two Warren Wilson students, Ali Minnihan and Braxton Clark. Amanda Biddix, a student from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is also a part of the team.
They will collect any artifacts they find as they try to unearth the foundation of the L addition.
“The Carson House board made the really good decision to learn more about this area,” said Moore to The McDowell News. “If they choose to build a visitor center here, which is one of the prime locations, then the board wanted to do as much archaeological work as can be done before they have to destroy this part of the landscape.”
Once the archaeological dig and study is done, then Moore and his team will present a report later in the year.
“They don’t have any photographs of it,” said Moore. “It is a bit of a mystery.”
Persons 16 and older who are interested in volunteering at the site may contact the Carson House to schedule a time to work. The number is 828-724-4948 or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visitors are welcome to observe the work, but space is limited. Please contact the Carson House for details, said Jordan.