The Ruth Saloon site (18BC79) contains archaeological evidence of an early to mid-19th-century brick house, a late 19th- to early 20th-century house and saloon, and a early 19th-century privy.

Archaeological Investigations

The Ruth Saloon site was studied as part of the archival, archaeological, and architectural investigations at Baltimore’s Camden Yards conducted by R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, Inc. The Camden Yards project area extended over 85 acres and encompassed the 71-block former Camden Yards Industrial Park. Cultural resource investigations were conducted in advance of the planned construction of professional sport stadiums in downtown Baltimore.

The Ruth Saloon site contains the foundation and yard features of a 2-story brick dwelling with a 2-story rear ell addition. Built in the early 19th century as the single-family home of the Whittington family, it was later rented to John George, a lumber merchant. By the end of the 19th century, the structure had become a multi-family dwelling, with a saloon on the ground floor. Its occupants rented the premises, and they tended to be either first generation German immigrants or of German extraction. This included the Wendler, Wolf, and Borcherding families. Between 1906 and 1912, the Ruth family, also of German extraction, occupied the house and ran the saloon. The family consisted of George Herman Ruth, Sr., his wife, his son "Babe," and his daughter "Mamie."

Three trenches placed within the site located the foundations of the building and an associated coal chute, as well as a brick-lined privy vault and overlying two-barrel privy. A remnant of a back alley wall was also found.

Artifacts from the privy feature date from 1780 to 1830, and probably represent the period between 1829 and 1837, when Frances Whittington and her children occupied the house with either two children or with three females aged 10-15.

Archeobotanical Studies

Faunal and botanical analyses were performed on samples from the brick-lined privy vault (Feature 5). Bones were mostly from pig, cow, and chicken, with a few wild animals.

The botanical assemblage from the Ruth Saloon site privy derived from (estimated) 1-liter flotation samples secured from 10 cm excavation levels. Justine Woodard analyzed the material, identifying a variety of comestible remains. Recovered nut remains totaled 31 specimens weighing 63.9 grams. Identified taxa included hickory, black walnut, hazel, English walnut, and almond. Seeds of cultivated fruits and vegetables totaled 661 specimens weighing 185.9 grams. Prune, peach, apricot, black cherry, watermelon, melon, persimmon, blackhaw, squash, and maize were identified.

Based on the recovered archeobotanical remains, the 19th-century residents enjoyed a variety of foods with high nutritional values. A diversity of nut species and stone fruits reflect the socio-economic status of the Ruth Saloon household.


Goodwin, R. Christopher
1992 Archeological and Architectural Investigations at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland. R. Christopher Goodwin & Associates, Inc., for the Maryland Stadium Authority. MHT # BC 74.

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