Archive for the ‘garden archaeology’ Category

Savannah Needs Archaeology!
June 19, 2016

Article from Savannah Morning News, June 18, 2016:

Petition urges protection of Savannah’s buried past
‘Archaeological ordinance’ would require builders to consider historic remnants

Within a city block-sized hole immediately north of downtown’s Drayton Tower apartment complex, excavators have been moving earth deep below the surface to make way for a new hotel. The project is just one of multiple developments underway or pending in Savannah’s Historic District, now that construction activity has picked up after the 2008 recession.

The renewed building activity has recently revived a decades-long effort to protect the city’s underground historic resources.

Archaeologist Phillip Ashlock said seeing the Drayton Street hotel development was a motivating factor behind an online petition he recently posted, which urges the city to adopt an archaeological ordinance.

The large hole in the Historic District, just west of Colonial Park Cemetery, was another reminder that Savannah has no archaeological requirements in place for city or private projects, Ashlock said.

The goal of the petition is to garner support for building requirements that would help prevent the loss of historic resources, Ashlock said, in addition to persuading the city to hire an archeologist who would coordinate preservation efforts. His aim is not to stop development, Ashlock said, but to make sure there is a review process for developers to follow to preserve and document historic sites.

“The past doesn’t belong to anybody,” he said. “We’re stewards of what came before us, and it’s our responsibility to take care of it.”

No ‘champion’

As of Friday afternoon, Ashlock’s petition on Change.org was more than halfway toward meeting his goal of 1,000 signatures.

The petition is raising awareness about the issue as the Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission creates an incentive for developers to voluntarily conduct archaeological studies.

Under the policy, developers that agree to perform studies for large-scale projects would be permitted to build an additional story beyond the area’s height limits. Four percent of the project’s cost, with a cap of $500,000, would have to go toward archaeology, outreach and education.

The incentive approach is a change in direction after an attempt about four years ago to develop an archaeology ordinance failed to move forward, said Ellen Harris, MPC director of urban planning and historic preservation. Options considered at the time varied from only requiring archaeological assessments for public projects to also mandating that private developers conduct evaluations, with potential incentives to offset additional costs.

The reasoning behind the ordinance was explained in a planning commission memo that said large segments of the underrepresented community — such as slaves, women and immigrants — could be more thoroughly understood through archaeology. Also, 95 percent of the area’s past is considered prehistoric and archaeology remains the only effective means of studying the 13,000-year-old heritage, the memo stated.

Archaeology helps tell the story of the people who built the buildings, Harris said.

“That story isn’t told in the structure anymore,” she said.

That abandoned 2012 endeavor followed a previous failed attempt in the late 1980s. At that time, the planning commission approved an ordinance that would have established an archaeological review policy for city projects, in addition to prohibiting the removal of artifacts from city-owned lands.

The ordinance was never approved by the mayor and aldermen, however.

“We just haven’t had a champion at the city council level for it,” Harris said.

With a new council in place, the issue could be brought back for consideration.

Savannah Alderman Bill Durrence, who represents the downtown Historic District, said last week that he was surprised to learn the city does not have an archaeology ordinance in place. The lack of a policy was something he would look into, Durrence said.

“That’s kind of odd, considering our history,” he said.

Underground stories

Most people in Savannah have no idea the city does not have an archaeological ordinance, either for city or private projects, said Rita Elliott, education coordinator and research associate with the Lamar Institute archaeological nonprofit. Elliott said she has been supporting the effort to “get the ball rolling” for implementing protections for 30 years, but that the lack of community awareness to the issue has played a part in the planning commission’s failed attempts to get regulations enacted.

“I think they need public support,” she said.

The false perception that archaeology and development can’t coexist is another barrier to an ordinance, said Laura Seifert an archaeology professor at Armstrong State University. Archaeology would just be another component of the historic review process, Seifert said, and the cost and time it takes could be built in if developers know their responsibilities at the start.

“If there is good planning, it shouldn’t be a problem,” she said.

Certain projects that receive state or federal funding are required to conduct archaeological studies. That requirement was why Chatham Area Transit had to have a site evaluation performed in 2012 when it was building a transit center on Oglethorpe Avenue west of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

The archaeologists for that project evaluated two brick wells found on the site, which were believed to date back to the 18th century. The excavation work uncovered artifacts from the 1700s, as well as ceramic shards dating back an estimated 1,500 years, said the project’s archaeologist, Angus Sawyer. More artifacts would likely have been discovered if it wasn’t for the damage caused to the site by the construction of a bus station there in the early 1960s, Sawyer said. Now more than 50 years later, Sawyer said, that damage continues throughout the city.

“There is a story under Savannah that is being lost piecemeal,” he said.

Digging versus archaeology

Historic artifacts are discovered regularly during construction projects. Recently, workers dug up about 50,000 19th century bricks hand-crafted by slaves, known as Savannah Greys, during the construction of a hotel on the south side of River Street at MLK.

A stoneware jug dating back to the early 19th century was also recently discovered during the construction of a ferry shelter on River Street north of City Hall.

The handle was broken off by machinery during the project, but the rest of the jug is intact and in the city’s possession after Luciana Spracher, Savannah’s library and archives director, heard about the discovery and rushed down to claim the artifact.

“I’m not sure what would have happened if I hadn’t found out about it,” Spracher said.

However, Ashlock said the discovery of an artifact is not the same as determining the historic object’s story.

“Context is very important,” he said. “Digging is different than archaeology.”

Savannah would not be the first city to adopt protections for its buried past. Other governments that have adopted archaeological ordinances include St. Augustine, Beaufort County, and Hilton Head.

Alexandria, Va. has one of the best models, Harris said.

That city’s archaeological protection code requires the evaluation of a project on a case-by-case basis. The developer is only required to hire an archaeological consultant to conduct research after it is determined there is potential for archaeological resources to be impacted.

‘Careful’ crafting


Local architect Patrick Shay said requiring some sort of historic investigation makes sense, but that an archaeological ordinance would have to be carefully crafted so it doesn’t make it impossible for development projects to move forward.

“It can get in the way of people using their property the way they want to,” Shay said. “It depends on how it’s worded, but it’s got merit.”

Shay’s firm designed the Rockbridge Capital hotel now being built along River Street, where the Savannah Grey bricks were found. An ordinance requiring work be halted in the middle of a project when such discoveries are made could be problematic for the developer, Shay said.

“If the rules are too strict, it can make it unlikely it is reported, frankly,” he said.

Jim Schrim, senior vice-president of real estate for Rockbridge, said during the project’s recent groundbreaking that the historic bricks would be cleaned and reused at the hotel.

Shay’s firm also designed the cultural arts center the city plans to build directly west of the downtown Civic Center. The arts center site at Montgomery Street and Oglethorpe Avenue is where a three-story private residence known as the Wetter House previously stood from about the mid-19th century to 1950. Noted for the ornamental iron railings that ran along the balconies circling the first and second floors, the house was torn down to make way for a used-car dealership and auto repairs.

The city decided not to conduct any further archaeological studies for the arts center project, since a previous survey was performed about 16 years ago when the site was being considered for the CAT transit center, according to city officials. While a full-scale excavation was not performed, an examination of a limited area on the site failed to locate any significant features and further study was not recommended, according to the survey report.

While it won’t be the same as archaeology, Shay said there are plans to investigate the site when the former parking lot’s concrete surface is torn up for the project.

With construction set to begin this summer, the arts center is among the millions of dollars worth of projects expected to soon break ground. In addition, developer Richard Kessler has announced plans to begin construction next month of an estimated $250 million hotel project along West River Street.

Without an ordinance in place, the revitalized building activity can mean the death of archaeological sites, Elliott said.

“When the source is destroyed, you don’t have that history anymore,” she said.

The History Underneath
May 8, 2012

The History Underneath.

The LAMAR Institute is proud to sponsor the May 12th event in Savannah!

from Connectsavannah:

May 08, 2012
The History Underneath
City explores need for an archaeological ordinance

By Jessica Leigh Lebos

If you own a building downtown and you want to paint it fuschia, there’s an app for that.

Same if you want to demolish it, add a sign to the front or attach a flagpole: You’d have to file an application for approval through the Metropolitan Planning Commission.

It’s because of the city’s rigorous rules concerning the renovation of its old architecture that Savannah remains one of the largest and most glorious landmark historic districts in the country. But you may be surprised that there are no such stipulations for the archaeological sites buried beneath those historic homes and offices.

There was no obligation to examine the old shipyards layered in the banks of the Savannah River as Hutchinson Island was developed, nor was there any archaeological methodology applied to the massive dugout of the underground parking garage near Ellis Square. Those are only two recent examples—there’s no telling how many other sites have been lost throughout the decades.

Fragile remains of Colonial–era homesteads, indigenous campgrounds, slave housing and other historic sites have “literally been bulldozed over” as Savannah has been developed, but the good news is that there is plenty left to explore.

Ellen Harris, the MPC’s cultural resource and planning manager, wants to investigate the possibility of incorporating archaeology into its own zoning ordinance, if not into the complex Unified Zoning Ordinance the commission has been drafting for years.

“The historic preservation of buildings tells only one part of the story,” explained Harris. “The under–represented people, Native Americans, slaves, soldiers—their stories are buried underneath those buildings.”

Digging in old records, Harris found that the MPC had received unilateral support for a code written in the late 1980s that would have required government projects to perform archaeological research before breaking ground, but the initiative fizzled with personnel changes. She hopes to revive the mandate for city and county projects and provide significant tax incentives for private entities.

Acknowledging that an ordinance applied citywide needs current community input before it can be written, Harris has organized a free introductory educational session open to the public. “Perspectives in Archaeology: Digging for the Truth, A Panel Discussion,” will be held at Trinity Methodist Church on Telfair Square this Saturday, May 12 at 2 p.m. A reception will follow.

While research shows that archaeological preservation has economic benefits for cities such as boosted tourism and reduced blight, it can be a scary topic for developers, for whom the discovery of a historic homestead or cemetery can mean the shutdown of a worksite. Harris encourages them to join the conversation.

“This is about dispelling myths and educating the community,” she said. “We’re just beginning to look at what it would take to include archaeology in the code and find out what other cities have done it.”

The nearby city of Beaufort, S.C. has laws mandating archaeological study before any development, and Florida has a statewide network of local archaeology ordinances. But Harris counts Alexandria, VA as the model for archaeological preservation. The city adopted an ordinance in 1989 that protects sites within the city’s center while acknowledging the needs of developers.

Dr. Pamela Cressey, the archaeology guru who helped author the Alexandria ordinance and continues to head the city’s museum devoted to locally–excavated artifacts, will visit Savannah to sit on the upcoming panel.

While Dr. Cressey promises to provide insight into the process that resulted in Alexandria’s ordinance, she counsels that Savannah must develop its own model.

“Every community has its unique characteristics and individual perspectives that will inform what comes out of it,” mused Dr. Cressey over the phone last week. “My goal is to talk about what’s possible.”

It can be challenging to convince people of the value of archaeology, she admits, “because it’s hidden. But down in the ground can be a wealth of materials that can tell us a lot about who lived there.”

Dr. Cressey will be joined on the panel by local architect Neil Dawson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife archaeologist Richard Kanaski and Georgia Southern anthropology professor Dr. Sue Moore. Local historian and filmmaker Michael Jordan will moderate.

Jordan calls the panel “more than just an opportunity for scholars to lecture about what they do. It’s a chance for Savannahians who care about history to start a conversation about what’s worked in other places and what could work here.”

Jordan was present when Lamar Institute archaeologist Rita Elliot excavated the Spring Hill Redoubt, the site of the bloody 1779 Revolutionary War battle now commemorated as Coastal Heritage Society’s Battlefield Park. There Elliot found gun parts and markings for the original fortification wall—factors that add layers to the history of the soldiers who died there. She has also found ditches, flints and other Revolutionary War debris in Madison Square, “steps away from where hundreds of people walk every day.”

Elliot, who will be in attendance at Saturday’s panel, looks forward to a time when Savannah’s buried sites will be as valued as its buildings.

“Archaeology goes in tandem with the preservation of standing structures,” she posits. “That’s how we find the whole story. There is tremendous potential here to expand the horizons of what we know about Savannah’s history.”

Adds Jordan, “Obviously, it will never be feasible to leave every archaeological discovery in Savannah completely undisturbed. That’s not realistic.”

However, even minor construction projects and home renovations “could peel back priceless pages of Savannah’s historic fabric” if policies are in place to preserve archaeological finds.

“That’s why it’s so important for us, as a community, to address the issues of how we preserve the past that’s buried just beneath the surface.”

Perspectives in Archaeology: Digging for the Truth

When: Saturday, May 12, 2 p.m.

Where: Trinity Methodist Church, 127 Barnard St.

Cost: Free and open to the public

The History Underneath
May 8, 2012

The History Underneath.

The LAMAR Institute is proud to be a co-sponsor of the upcoming discussion on Archaeology in Savannah on May 12, 2012 (2PM) at Trinity Methodist Church on Telfair Square. Interested folks may wish to attend.

The pictured Rita Elliot looks a lot like a Rita Elliott that I know.

Chatham Commissioners designate Pennyworth Island as historic following swampy slog | savannahnow.com
July 13, 2011

Chatham Commissioners designate Pennyworth Island as historic following swampy slog | savannahnow.com.

New Archaeology Reports Available
October 13, 2010

Several recent archaeological reports have been uploaded for free public distribution on the LAMAR Institute’s website. These include:

The Search for Redoubt Number 6 at New Ebenezer

http://thelamarinstitute.org/images/PDFs/publication_138.pdf

Smith House Site, Valdosta, Georgia, GPR Survey

http://thelamarinstitute.org/images/PDFs/publication_146.pdf

Archaeological Reconnaissance of Civil War Resources on Rose Dhu Island, Chatham County, Georgia

http://thelamarinstitute.org/images/PDFs/publication_154.pdf

GPR Survey at Behavior Cemetery, Sapelo Island, Georgia

http://thelamarinstitute.org/images/PDFs/publication_155.pdf

Archaeological Reconnaissance of Pennyworth Island, Chatham County, Georgia

http://thelamarinstitute.org/images/PDFs/publication_163.pdf

Fort Perry Reconniassance, Marion County, Georgia.

164. Fort Perry Reconnassaince, Marion County, Georgia. By Daniel T. Elliott, Mike Bunn, Don Gordy, and Terry Jackson, 2010 (0.7 MB).

GPR Survey at Gascoigne Bluff, St. Simons Island, Georgia.

165. GPR Survey at Gascoigne Bluff, St. Simons Island, Georgia. By Daniel T. Elliott, 2010 (1.7 MB).

GPR Mapping fo the Adler Plot, Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia.

166.  GPR Mapping of the Adler Plot, Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia. By Daniel T. Elliott, 2010 (3 MB).

GPR Mapping of Lot K-207, Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia.

167. GPR Mapping of Lot K-207, Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, Georgia. By Daniel T. Elliott, 2010 (2 MB).

GPR Survey at the Copeland Site (9GE18).

168. GPR Survey at the Copeland Site (9GE18). By Daniel T. Elliott, 2010 (2 MB).

TO NAME A FEW, FOR MORE VISIT:

The LAMAR Institute

http://thelamarinstitute.org

Click on REPORTS.

We welcome your comments!

Dawn of American Industry: Ebenezer Silk
February 27, 2010

Please download and enjoy our presentation, “Dawn of American Industry: Ebenezer Silk” by Daniel Elliott, President, The LAMAR Institute and Rita Elliott, Curator of Exhibits and Archaeology, Coastal Heritage Society. This keynote address was presented before the Georgia Salzburger Society at their Landing Day celebration that was held at the Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church, 2966 Ebenezer Road, Rincon, Georgia, USA on March 13, 2010. Here is the link: DawnofAmericanIndustry_EbenezerSilk

Crowfield Update
December 23, 2008

Crowfield and Broomhall were two 18th century Goose Creek rice plantations in Berkeley County, South Carolina. In 1987 Garrow & Associates, Inc., under my direction, conducted archaeological survey of both plantations for Westvaco. The work was underfunded and fast paced. Concurrent work at Broomhall, directed by Steven Byrne was never fully documented. After I completed the survey report, we were contracted to prepare a National Register of Historic Places nomination for Crowfield Plantation. This document was completed and submitted to Westvaco, who promptly filed it away and it was not submitted. That ended the Garrow & associates chapter of Crowfield and Broomhall research. Major portions of these two important and unique 18th century treasures were subsequently trashed by the development project.

The mantle was taken up by several other researchers, including: Robert S. Webb Associates,  the Chicora Foundation, and Dargan Associates (landscape architects). Several more studies ensued. I summarized the work done in a short LAMAR Institute report, which is available online at the LAMAR Institute’s webpage:

http://shapiro.anthro.uga.edu/Lamar/PDFfiles/Publication%2099.pdf

The reports by Robert S. Webb Associates were produced in very limited quantity, despite their substance and signficiant findings. The Chicora reports on Crowfield and Broomhall plantations are OUT OF PRINT, except for one short study of the gardens at Crowfield, which I have uploaded here as a .pdf file and it is also available at this website:

crowfieldlandscape_chicora102

crowfieldlandscape_chicora1021

The other reports by Chicora Foundation are available through Interlibrary Loan.

Ms. Barbara Orsolits, M.H.P. , whom I met in early 2008, created this webpage about Crowfield, as part of a larger study of historical landscape archaeology in the South Carolina low country:

http://www.historiclandscape.org/Crowfield%20Overview.htm

Advances on the Internet have provided easy access to additional information on Crowfield, Broomhall, and the Goose Creek plantations. For example, Leiding’s 1921 Historic Houses of South Carolina is available from Books.google.com as a .pdf. It includes a discussion of Crowfield.

historic_houses_of_south_carolina

And this information about Crowfield is from an 1845 publication (Southern and Western Magazine and Review, by William Gilmore Simms, pages 283-284):

N. B. A few errors, attributable to hurried preparation for the press, occurred chiefly in the notes to our first number. In note on page 210, paragraph 7, line 1st., for “Isaac Marion, his brother, settled in Georgetown, at least as early as 1742,” read “Isaac Marion, the General’s eldest brother, married and settled in Georgetown, at least as early as 1742.” In note on p. 217, line 2d., for “Mrs. Sarah Cutler, of New-York,” read “Mrs. Sarah Cutler, of Massachusetts.” In note on p. 215, par. 2d. line, in relation to the present ownership of Crowfield, for “but now the property of Mrs. Middleton Smith,” read “but now the property of Henry A. Middleton, Esq ” We were led into this error by confounding Crowfield with Bloomfield, the adjoining plantation of Mrs. Middleton Smith. In line 34 of same note, for “Dr. Geddings’ map of Crowfield,” read “Dr. Geddings’ map of ‘The Elms.'” Crowfield was originally the property of the Hon. Arthui Middleton,* who conveyed it Nov., 11,1729, to Wm. Middleton, who, it is said, had a country-seat of the same name in England. During the revolutionary war, he sold it to Rawlins Lowndes, Provost Marshal under the colonial government, and President of the State of South-Carolina after the Declaration of Independence. After six years’ possession, Rawlins Lowndes, and Sarah, his wife, on the 16th March, 1784, conveyed it to John Middleton, whose heirs sold it to the present proprietor. It is said to be a place of great beauty, presenting numerous remains of the great labour and lavish expenditure of money, which the wealthy colonial planter bestowed on his villa or country-seat, when the law of primogeniture gave us a landed aristocracy and kind of hereditary nobility. It is no longer in cultivation ; but it is well worth the visit of the antiquarian, and of all who delight to recal the memories of the past,—and especially the grandeur and magnificence of colonial times. R. Y.

* We find on record an indenture of lease and release, dated November 10 and 11,,1729, between the Hon. Arthur Middleton, of Berkley county, and William Middleton, of the same county, by which deed the former conveyed to the latter two tracts of land in the Parish of St. James’, Goose Creek—the one containing one thousand four hundred and forty acres, (Crowfield,) bounded north and northwest on lands of Matthew Beard and Andrew Allen, south on lands of Benjamin Marion, west on lands of Mr. De La Plain, deceased, east and south-east on lands of Thomas Moore and Benjamin Gibbs: the other containing 103 acres in said parish, bounded north-west on land of Mr. De La Plain, deceased, northeast and south-east on land of John Gibbs, and south on land of Francis Guerrin. The Will of Arthur Middleton, of Berkley county, is dated June 7,1734, and proved Dec. 7, 1737, before William Bull, Governor. It mentions his wife Sarah, and his sons William, Henry and Thomas,—and devises, inter alia., half of his lot No. 199, in Charlestown, to his son William, to be divided lengthways, and the other half to his son Henry; and his brick tenement and part of his lot, bought from Andrew Allen, to his wife. The witnesses to the Will were Tim Mellichamp, Jane Mellichamp and Thomas Corbett.

 

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Interest in the history of the Broomhall plantation continues, as noted in a recent Charleston Post and Courier news story:

Site of former Broom Hall plantation commemorated

Staff report, Post and Courier, Charleston, S.C.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Crowfield Plantation Community Service Association manager Missey Lewis (left) stands with Goose Creek Mayor Michael Heitzler in front of the new historical marker outside the Bloomfield subdivision. 

Crowfield Plantation Community Service Association manager Missey Lewis (left) stands with Goose Creek Mayor Michael Heitzler in front of the new historical marker outside the Bloomfield subdivision.

The land that became Broom Hall was granted to Edward Middleton in 1678 and later conveyed to Benjamin and Jane Gibbs. When Benjamin died, the land was left to Jane, who later married Peter Taylor, who developed the estate until the mid-18th century. The property was later owned by the Smith family and their descendants, who rented sections to freedmen after the Civil War. The West Virginia Pulp and Paper Co. used the land to harvest pine trees in the 20th century with the property finally being developed residentially after 1980.

A historical marker noting the site of the former Broom Hall plantation was erected in Crowfield Plantation.

The marker can be seen in the small park off Westview Boulevard near the Bloomfield neighborhood.

“The Crowfield Plantation Community Service Association is proud to share in this great endeavor with (Goose Creek) Mayor (Michael) Heitzler in educating and recognizing the historical value of our great city,” association manager Missey Lewis said.

http://www.charleston.net/news/2008/dec/19/site_former_broom_hall_plantation_commem65512/

 And a 1994 article from the New York Times:

A Historical Colonial Garden Is Recovered From the Rough

On a recent misty morning here in the Carolina low country, golfers teeing off at the 14th hole of the Crowfield Golf and Country Club were mindful that their golf balls could stray into an archeological dig.http://crowfieldhoa.com/cpcsa-historical.html

A team of garden archeologists, wielding root clippers, trowels, and whisk brooms between the 14th and 17th fairways, was investigating what has come to light as the earliest picturesque, or natural, landscape garden in America. Twelve miles north of Charleston, the 23-acre garden was created at Crowfield Plantation by William Middleton in 1730. The land, including the golf course, is owned by the Westvaco Corporation, the paper packaging and chemical company.

“Crowfield is clearly the oldest ornamental landscape garden we know of in this country,” said Jonathan H. Poston of the Historic Charleston Foundation, “and though now a ruin, its above-ground features are relatively intact.”

Crowfield’s extensive ponds and canals predate by 10 years the famous green, stepped terraces and butterfly lakes of Middleton Place, the nearby garden that belonged to William Middleton’s younger brother, Henry. William Middleton eventually inherited the family’s property in England and returned there in 1754.

Thereafter, Crowfield was sold to a succession of mostly absentee landlords. Crowfield’s survival, even overgrown, was partly due in this century to its inaccessibility along back logging roads cloaked by 2,850 acres of swampy timberland that Westvaco bought in 1930.

Westvaco eventually decided to build a planned community for an estimated 15,000 people around Crowfield. For the future homeowners to qualify for Federal Housing Administration financing, Westvaco was required in 1986 by the National Historic Preservation Act to make an archaeological survey of the site.

Westvaco then proposed saving 15 acres of the historic garden as the centerpiece of the golf course. Several holes on the course, which opened in December 1990, act as a natural buffer between the community and the garden. (This arrangement may be a trend; the Desert de Reiz, a 1770’s garden outside Paris, has also been preserved within a new golf course.)

The existence of a 1730 American garden in this style shows that the wealthy English in the Charleston area were in the mainstream of the British fashion in gardens, and without the time lag usually associated with colonial culture. And the style of that day was turning toward the natural over the formal and developed into the English-style landscape. (The earliest documented formal colonial garden is at Bacon’s Castle in Virginia, dating to 1680.)

Although it is not known who designed Crowfield, English landscape designers were advertising in Charleston newspapers at that time, and colonists had access to books like Stephen Switzer’s 1718 “Ichnographia Rustica” and John James’s 1712 “Theory and Practice of Gardening.”

William Middleton was 19 years old in 1729 when his father gave him the 1,500-acre plantation that was named for Crowfield Hall, the family’s English seat in Suffolk. The Middletons, who were prominent in colonial government, were part of the Charleston community that had originally been sugar planters in Barbados in the 17th century. Born in the American colony, William cultivated the rice that was called Carolina gold because of the high rate of return that made the low country planters so wealthy.

In May 1743, on a visit to Crowfield, Eliza Lucas, a young colonist who pursued an interest in local agriculture, described the garden at its height in a letter to a London friend. She wrote of the plantings, the perspectives, and the “large fish ponds properly disposed which form a fine prospect of water from the house.” This letter, the only reliable documentation of the way the garden appeared at the time, has been crucial to the restoration project.

Massive oaks draped in Spanish moss still line the old avenue to the ruins of the plantation house. The moon pond at the entrance, 200 feet in diameter, lies just before the house. The house was abandoned in the early 1800’s, and it has succumbed over the years to fire and earthquake, as well as vandalism to its handsome Flemish-bond brick work.

Some old magnolia trees are positioned behind the house near the section of the bowling green that has survived the golf course; in all, about eight acres of the original gardens were lost to development, the archaeologists’ report said. And in the middle of the wilderness area, which may have had symmetrical plantings, a 15-foot-high hill, or viewing mount, indicates that the garden’s features like the ponds and the terraces were meant to be surveyed from above. All of these features are more visible now, after Hurricane Hugo felled many trees in September 1989.

The “fish ponds” that terminate the view are more precisely a central rectangular lake, framed on three sides by long canals. “There are few, if any other, gardens in America with authentic mounts or canals,” said Rudy J. Favretti, a consultant on historic landscapes from Storrs, Conn. It is conceivable that the ornamental lake and canals were also part of a system to irrigate the rice fields.

In particular, Crowfield’s plan, which included a Roman temple, resembles such English landscapes of the late 1720’s as the water garden at Studley Royal in Yorkshire or the bowling green and serpentine walks at Claremont in Surrey.

In the most recent stage of garden archeology, conducted in April by Michael Trinkley of the Chicora Foundation, a non-profit heritage preservation organization, Westvaco acted with the advice of its consultants, Hugh and Mary Palmer Dargen, Charleston landscape architects who specialize in historic preservation.

Although the archeologists uncovered two brick foundations of garden structures, perhaps summer houses, and such artifacts commensurate with wealth as fragments of Chinese porcelain and glass goblets, the real work, as Mr. Trinkely saw it, “was to try to determine pathways and to study soil stains and topographical features that will guide in the garden’s rehabilitation and restoration.”

During this dig, the team analyzed earth berms that elevated the garden and separated it from the cultivated fields. Team members were also able to determine areas where shallow top soil indicated grassy areas rather than deeply rooted flower beds.

Current plans call for the garden to be turned over to the homeowners’ association when the houses encircling the golf course are completed. But Charles Duell, a Middleton descendant and president of Middleton Place Foundation, said he hoped that Westvaco would “donate a conservation easement on the property” to a consortium of preservation groups. This group could then control further archeological research and restoration. So far, the site has been open only to researchers.

Although Crowfield is now only a beautiful ruin with classic water features, it is evidence of how the first settlers transported high style to the New World. “It is the Mona Lisa of early American landscapes,” Mr. Poston Said.

The New York Times, Thursday, June 23, 1994