During recent construction near a Prince Frederick shopping center, archaeologists discovered remains of an 18th century home, the oldest historic site found to date in the interior of Calvert County.
Kirsti Uunila, the county's historic preservation specialist, said the site is believed to be part of Overton, a large home owned by Benjamin Hance in the 1700s. The Hances were among the founding families of Calvert and controlled extensive landholdings in the middle portion of the county.
The remnants uncovered in Prince Frederick are believed to be quarters that housed either slaves or freed slaves who worked at Overton. "We're pretty excited about it," Uunila said.
The site was uncovered during work on Chapline Place, a housing complex being built next to a new shopping center on the east side of Route 2/4 in Prince Frederick. County laws require archaeological surveys prior to construction projects in Prince Frederick and St. Leonard and before construction of town house developments anywhere in Calvert, Uunila said.
Uunila suspected the site might be connected to Overton after an archaeological survey of the area was performed several years ago before road construction in Prince Frederick.
In compliance with county law, the developer of Chapline Place, the Osprey Group, hired an archaeology consultant to perform a three-phase study of the property.
That work, which began in 1996, is expected to cost $40,000 and be finished by late this year. Dames & Moore Inc., the Bethesda-based firm, has analyzed hundreds of artifacts pulled from the ground and is preparing a report for the county.
"The thing that really got us is we found a wine bottle seal from 1771 on the surface of the field," Uunila said. "That isn't the kind of thing that would have dropped out of someone's pocket."
Archaeologists found bits of ceramics, nails, buckles and pieces of clothing, as well as storage pits and a hearth. Much of the remains were buried several feet below the surface, which has been used as a farm field for at least a century.
While the artifacts are analyzed, construction on the Chapline Place project continues.
The artifacts eventually will be sent to the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory at Jefferson Patterson Park for permanent storage, Uunila said.