The Gott’s Court site (18AP52) is an 18th- and 19th-century commercial district and 20th-century African American enclave in Annapolis, Maryland. Bounded by Northwest, West, and Calvert Streets, this property was an area of artisans and craftsmen from the 1720s until its transformation in the mid-19th century into a residential zone. The Gott’s Court site presents a profile of commercial and domestic growth in Annapolis, and further details urban settlement patterns and lifestyles between 1720 and 1930.

Archaeological Investigations

In 1989, Archeology in Annapolis conducted an archaeological investigation of the block in which Gott’s Court is located. Four test units confirmed the presence of 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century artifacts from occupation levels several feet in depth.

R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates conducted a Phase II/III investigation of Gott’s Court between October 1991 and February 1992, prior to the construction of a multi-story parking facility. Fieldwork was divided into two stages, and combined manual and mechanical excavations. The first phase involved the excavation of 14 backhoe trenches, ranging from four to seven meters in length and two to four meters in width. These trenches were excavated following natural stratigraphy, subdivided into arbitrary 30 cm levels when thick strata were present. Soils were separated by stratum or level and then trowel-sorted to collect artifacts and ecofacts. Fifteen five-by-five-foot excavation units were placed within the trenches where features, living surfaces, or artifact concentrations were detected. These units were hand-excavated according to natural stratigraphy, subdivided into 10 cm levels. All soil from these units was screened through ¼-inch mesh. The second phase of fieldwork, using the same excavation strategy as the first phase, consisted of six additional trenches, an extension of two original trenches, and ten excavation units within the trenches. One hundred features, representing domestic and commercial yard activities associated with 18th- through 20th-century dwellings and businesses, were recorded and excavated.
Over 21,000 artifacts were recovered during Phase II/III excavations at Gott’s Court. Ceramic, faunal, and botanical materials from selected features were analyzed by distinct periods of occupation in order to learn about the changing lifestyles of the residents and the shifting land use from commercial to residential.

Eighteenth-century artifacts were recovered from 29 features, including a cellar, pit, and kitchen midden associated with the John Golder family. Ceramic and faunal analysis revealed a household of relatively high status. Ceramic sherds included polychrome tin-glazed earthenware, Buckley ware, Staffordshire slipware, Manganese mottled earthenware, North Devon gravel-tempered earthenware, white salt-glazed stoneware, English brown stoneware, Rhenish blue and gray stoneware, and Chinese porcelain in various vessel forms. Faunal remains indicated the consumption of more expensive meat cuts from a variety of animals, including cow, pig, sheep/goat, chicken, other birds, and fish. Other artifacts recovered included a pewter cufflink marked "IG" or "JG", a wig curler, a copper alloy drawer pull, a metal utensil handle, a gunflint, two thimbles, and straight pins.

Twenty-nine 19th-century features, including a well and postholes, contained artifacts that represented the rear yard activities of domestic and commercial occupations. The bulk of artifacts consisted of brick, machine-headed cut nails, earthenware roofing tiles, window glass, ceramics, glass, oyster shell, and coal or coal slag. A barrel well filled in during the first third of the 19th century contained a large number of kitchen and architectural items. Ceramics included creamware, pearlware, whiteware, coarse earthenwares, and American and imported stonewares, with most vessels being hollow forms. Table glass and mold-blown glass vessels were also recovered. The faunal assemblage revealed that a variety of meats were consumed, including beef, pork, mutton, venison, chicken, turkey, wild birds, turtles, and fish.

The majority of the 20th-century artifacts relate to the construction, occupation, and demolition of the 1907 Gott’s Court residential complex. Most objects were uncovered from a refuse midden in the rear yards of the dwellings, and represent refuse from coal stoves, food processing, and other domestic activities. Goodwin’s analysis indicated that the residents of Gott’s Court were tied into local, regional, and national markets for the acquisition of foodstuffs and household goods. Faunal materials revealed a growing dependence on inexpensive cuts of commercially-prepared meats, fish, and shellfish from street vendors. In addition, glass bottles manufactured in Baltimore and Annapolis were recovered, as well as utilitarian ironstone, whiteware, porcelain, and yellow ware from various potteries. Archaeologists suggested that the presence of the sheet midden indicates that the African-American enclave at Gott’s Court was not included in the city’s trash removal plan.

Archeobotanical Studies

Soil samples of unknown volume from select features and test units were subjected to flotation processing. Flotation processing was conducted at the Frederick, Maryland laboratory of R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates. Analysis was conducted by Justine Woodard.

Seven flotation samples from five features (0801, 1103, 1306, 1305, 1311) and one general excavation unit (EU 6) were processed and analyzed. Processing of 18 liters of historic cultural fill yielded 2.19 grams of carbonized plant macro-remains. Specimens were quantified by fragment count. The site produced 343 wood charcoal fragments, with the assemblage dominated by pine and red oak species, and small quantities of hickory, maple, and American chestnut. Seed remains total 36 for the site, with pigweed, purslane, spurge, goosefoot, and nightshade species identified. Unidentifiable amorphous charcoal totaled 42 fragments site-wide.

Cultivated plant remains were limited to maize cupules and glumes (five total specimens) from Excavation Unit 5.


Goodwin, R. Christopher, Suzanne L. C. Sanders, Michelle T. Moran, and David Landon
1993 Phase II/III Archeological Investigations of the Gott’s Court Parking Facility, Annapolis, Maryland. Volumes I-III. Report prepared for the City of Annapolis by R. Christopher Goodwin and Associates, Frederick, MD. MHT # AP 48.
Warner, Mark S.
1991 Archaeological Testing at the Gott’s Court Site, 18AP52, Annapolis, Maryland. Manuscript on file, Maryland Historical Trust, Crownsville, MD.

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