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ictured: Gold-banded porcelain plate pieces, most likely imported from England and used at the mansion after 1860, and Willow Pattern plates used in the late 19th Century –
RICHMOND- A new exhibit opened this week at Virginia’s Executive Mansion as a part of the celebration of the mansion’s bicentennial. Unearthing the Bicentennial: An Archaeological Exhibit in Honor of the Mansion’s 200th Anniversary is open to the public and runs through July 2013. The exhibit contains items discovered during an archaeological investigation at the mansion. The contents of the display are the result of an uncovering of a small brick foundation during construction work on the mansion grounds in the late 1990s and features dishes and glassware spanning from the 1800s to the current administration.
Speaking about the exhibit First Lady Maureen McDonnell said, “We are thrilled as we commemorate the 200th anniversary of Virginia’s Executive Mansion, the oldest occupied governor’s residence in the United States, that we are able to share with the public these stories and artifacts. Virginia is steeped in rich history and we hope that this exhibit and all of the activities surrounding the bicentennial celebrations will highlight the incredible role our Commonwealth has played as the cradle of democracy.”
The new display is the result of collaborative effort between the Executive Mansion and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR). DHR conducted the original archaeological excavation, recovering large quantities of glass and ceramics from a small brick foundation on mansion grounds, revealing the artifacts. Following careful recovery, recording and analysis, DHR staff has determined that many of the relics date back to the second half of the nineteenth century, most likely to the administrations of governors Floyd and Smith.
The DHR has been designated as the state repository for Virginia and maintains a repository that includes more than 6 million archaeological artifacts from more than 850 sites that represent all occupation periods and geographical areas in Virginia. It is the DHR’s mission to care for the artifacts recovered from these sites representing Virginia’s prehistory and history. The DHR preserves and manages this collection, as well as other artifacts for the Executive Mansion. The collection for the Executive Mansion includes teacups, several plate fragments and bottles and tumblers used in the mansion and found during the DHR’s excavation.
For more information about the exhibit, visit http://www.executivemansion.virginia.gov/200thanniversary/archeology.cfm. To schedule a tour of the mansion or to view the exhibit, call (804) 371-2642 x2460.
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