Kitchen reno turns archaeological dig

The former kitchen and current archaeological digA Maryland couple renovating their old house found thousands of artifacts when they gutted the kitchen. The house is from the 18th c. and is on the National Register of Historic Places, so they expected to find an old thing or two, but they figured most of the goodies would have long since been stripped in countless preceding renovations over the centuries.

How wrong they were. As soon as the contractors stripped the kitchen to the studs, they started finding an immense wealth of objects.

In the dirt under what used to be the floor were parts of old shoes, part of a pipe, bones from a wild boar and other animals, oyster shells, bells, bottles and many pieces of pottery.

For now, the artifacts, most still covered in a thin layer of dirt, are being held in bins.

Homeowners Brian Lees and Gay Carter Lees called the Archaeological Society of Maryland and archaeologist Mechelle Kerns-Nocerito came running. She mapped out the area and came back with volunteers aplenty to find and catalog all the artifacts they can.

She’s hoping they’ll find artifacts that date all the way back the earliest settlements on Kent Island in the mid-17th century. Little is known about that period, so these finds might fill in all kinds of blanks.

Now the Lees’ kitchen looks like an archaeological dig instead of a home renovation, and they’re pleased as punch about it. Kitchen renovations are stressful enough — what do you do to cook in the interim — and building delays are usually bad news, but the Lees are true history aficionados and as far as they’re concerned, this is both the joy and responsibility of owning a historical property.

Once the archaeological study is done, the space will be sealed and the kitchen renovation can begin anew.

The Lees' home with centuries worth of additions