Artifacts from centuries-old Hagerstown home in historic Black neighborhood being studied

Artifacts from a nearly 200-year-old log cabin in one of Maryland’s oldest African-American neighborhoods are being studied by archaeologists from the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration. (Courtesy Preservation Maryland)

Artifacts from a nearly 200-year-old log cabin in one of Maryland’s oldest African-American neighborhoods are being studied by archaeologists from the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration.

MDOT SHA announced Thursday it will have archaeologists study artifacts from a Hagerstown, Maryland, house on Jonathan Street that sits near two sites known to have been listed in the Green Book — a driver’s guide to Black-owned and Black-friendly businesses during the Jim Crow era.

“Preserving and recording history is a little-known part of our responsibilities at MDOT SHA,” Administrator Tim Smith said in a statement.

“It is such an honor to be involved in a project that will teach us more about the story of Hagerstown’s roots in Maryland. Our transportation network connects us to life’s current opportunities and also our past history.”

The announcement comes a month after Preservation Maryland began refurbishing the home, which was in danger of being demolished before it was bought by the group. MDOT SHA said it is partnering with Preservation Maryland in the effort to learn more about the house.

The house is estimated to be 180 years old and MDOT SHA said they have an archaeologist on site “working to determine the cabin’s age, who once lived there and what life was like for those residents.”

According to MDOT SHA, this week’s research will be the first step in a monthslong process of lab study and analysis to make a determination about the property’s history.

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