At Open House in Bladensburg, a Chance to Unearth the Past

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 6, 2009

The approaching anniversary of the War of 1812, the place of Maryland in history and the predicted return of sunshine are expected to combine in Bladensburg today to give Washington area residents a chance to help dig up the past.

The Maryland State Highway Administration and its partners in archeology are holding an open house today at the Market Master's House in the 4000 block of 48th Street in Bladensburg, a small Prince George's County jurisdiction with a long history.

According to the highway administration, the small house, which remains standing, was built about 1760 and was apparently one of the oldest post offices in the United States.

Excavations, which began this week, according to the administration, have turned up a child's teapot, French gunflint and a Civil War-era gun part.

Although aspects of Bladensburg's role in the 1812 conflict are well known, the sifting of earth is intended to throw more light on the matter, the highway department said.

This week's weather has not been favorable. A blog connected to the dig said archeologists had to bail yesterday "with buckets." Today's forecast calls for sunshine, but a notice of the open house said those expecting to tramp through the site must be in appropriate attire and footwear. The open house is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company