Traces of those who came before are all around us. This spot, for example, holds clues to the life of Catherine Foster, a free black seamstress and laundress, who purchased 2 1/8-acres here, in 1833, for herself and her family.
As this "reveal" shows, there are bricks and cobblestones still below ground, not just rubble, but stones laid with purpose. To what end? These bricks and stones are part of a path leading to the Foster home. Archaelogy on this site also uncovered foundations and the basement of the Foster home, a well, a paved courtyard (possibly used for the family laundering business), and many small artifacts.
While each unearthed feature has been covered again for preservation, transparent protection over this feature allows visitors to see something of what lies underfoot and to imagine the generations of Foster who walked this ground.
Both the University and the Fosters
made paths and walkways from similar, readily available materials. Old drawings, artwork and photographs, such as the one to the far left of The Lawn, circa 1890-1895, provide proof.
Archaeology completed in 2008,
such as the work at the Foster site shown to the left, offers continuing comparison.
To learn more about the Foster family, please visit the exhibits on the first floor of Gibson Hall.