The Secrets Lie Below…

On a wooded lot almost entirely reclaimed by the surrounding woods once stood the Eutaw Farm manor house measuring sixty by sixty feet. Today almost no evidence of the once-grand abode remains …. above ground.  The secrets lie below.

On Saturday, April 21, ten Notre Dame Prep students and three teachers ventured to this site, situated in Baltimore City’s Herring Run Park, to uncover the history of the plantation and 19th-century Baltimore life.

Lisa and Jason
Archeologists Jason Shallenhamer and Lisa Kraus

The excavation of Eutaw Farm is a joint project among Baltimore Heritage, Northeast Baltimore History Roundtable, Friends of Herring Run Park, Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, and Baltimore Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation. Husband and wife archeologists Lisa Kraus, Ph.D., and Jason P. Shellenhamer are spending a vacation week leading an army of volunteer archeologists to unearth the secrets of Ivy Hill, which was consumed by fire in 1869.


The hilltop home site was continuously occupied for 200 years before the post-Civil War fire.  The on site archeologists, working shoulder to shoulder with NDP students, talked to them about their own paths to archeology, their colleges, and their most exciting finds. The experts were able to place each artifact found in some sort of chronological context, and every item gave a clue as to what part of the house they were in. Items included everything from buttons to bones, pipe stems, window glass, pottery shards, a large kitchen pot hook, and dozens of nails.  The kitchen seemed most likely because of our STEAM girls’ work.

These students who went on this STEAM adventure included:   Autumn Arvig ‘17, Taylor Connell ‘18, Marcie Guerra ‘17, Sarah Hannon ‘17, Paige Little ‘18, Carly Sottak ‘18, Mary Tadeo ‘18, Kate Walsh ‘18, and Emily Grasso ‘18, who shares her reflections of the experience:

Emily sifting

As someone who has recently discovered her passion for History, I jumped at the opportunity to experience a real life archeological dig. The site was not set up like any of us expected. Instead of large tents filled with tools, we instead saw a small forest clearing with holes marked off on the ground. Our job was to sift through bucketful after bucketful of dirt using (what else) sifters and pick out anything that wasn’t dirt, rocks, or plants. We would then put our important finds into a paper bag. The highlight finds of that day’s dig were buttons, ceramic shards, and a fireplace hook. Despite the cold and the mild rain all of the girls (and the teachers) had a great and memorable time. It was entertaining to see the professional archeologists glance over a pile of dirt and tell if there were any more artifacts left in it. The day flew by almost too quickly and we all left knowing that we had helped add to the rich History of America.


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