HOUSTON – More than 150,000 historical artifacts were discovered in a park near downtown Houston.
Here's what Danny Perez, the public information officer for the Texas Department of Transportation - Houston District, had to say about the discovery:
Did archaeologists find more than 150,000 artifacts near downtown?
Yes. The artifacts date from the 1830s through the 1950s and are associated with the former neighborhood of Frost Town, Houston’s first working-class neighborhood.
The residents of Frost Town were among the first to work in the earliest industries to develop along Buffalo Bayou, providing the labor that supported Houston's commercial and industrial growth.
Today Houston is the most diverse large city in the United States, with the economic opportunity it offers attracting people from all parts of the country and world.
That proud heritage began with Frost Town, and the archeological work done there will preserve that legacy for all future generations to appreciate.
What is Frost Town?
Frost Town was located in the area now occupied by James Bute Park.
The location is south of Buffalo Bayou and just a few blocks north of Minute Maid Park.
Portions of the Elysian Street Viaduct and I-69 cross over the Frost Town area.
During which project were the artifacts found?
Major excavations, completed in 2018, were associated with the replacement of the Elysian Street Viaduct. A smaller excavation, completed early this year, tested an area adjacent to I-69 in association with the North Houston Highway Improvement Project.
Were house foundations, cisterns, brick sidewalks, animal burials, and yard decorations found during the excavation?
All of those features were identified.
House foundations varied from hand-made brick piers from the earliest homes to cement piers used in and after the 1930s.
Both wooden and masoned-brick cisterns were discovered (one, associated with the Elysian Project, but outside of Frost Town, was signed by the mason – the only signed cistern reported in Texas).
One form of interesting yard decoration was in the form of bottle alignments.
These were rows of upturned bottle half-buried in the ground that bordered walkways and garden areas.
One alignment contained a Carl Conrad & Co. Budweiser bottle from 1878.
Is TxDOT is partnering with the Houston Archeological Society, a group that engages in and promotes scientific archaeological exploration, research, publication, and public awareness of the state's heritage resource?
“Partnering with” is perhaps a mischaracterization. The HAS has volunteered to work on several of our projects, as they have worked on projects sponsored by the Texas Historical Commission and other groups.
While we are not always able to accommodate such requests due to the particulars of any given project, working with regional archeological and historical societies when it can be accommodated is an important part of TxDOT’s consultation and outreach efforts.
Anything else about the artifacts, the project, the excavation that TXDOT wants the public to know?
Artifacts from Frost Town are currently undergoing analysis. Completion of the final report is likely to take the next two years.
Once complete, the report will be available in hard copy at several libraries across the state.
TxDOT will make a digital version of the report available online for free download.
All artifacts will be kept in a state curatorial facility, but TxDOT will work with museums (particularly those in the Houston area) to accommodate exhibits.