Glover Park Archaeological Museum

While archaeology is best left to those with appropriate credentials, the alleys, yards, gardens, sheds, basements, crawlspaces and attics of Glover Park provide a fertile field for anyone with an antiquarian bent.

The Glover Park Archaeological Museum, a (purely virtual) collection of everyday objects from former times, had its origin during a kitchen renovation in 1990, when the removal of an archaic refrigerator exposed unforeseen archaeological strata to the light of day.

(In the absence of a coherent collections management policy, most of the museum’s holdings were de-accessioned shortly after it went online in 2012, and are now in more responsible hands.)






Raleigh Tipped Cigarettes.

A discarded pack, entombed beneath the floorboards during a back porch enclosure on Tunlaw Road. The series number 115 on the blue tax stamp permits reliable dating of the home-improvement project to 1945.





Dog License Tag, issued by the District of Columbia Office of Collector of Taxes, for the years 1939-1940 (provenance unknown).

The shape of the tag was regularly changed––round, octagonal, heart-shaped, etc.––so that it could be seen at a distance if the license was up to date, and the tax had been paid.





Old Overholt Straight Rye Whiskey, pint bottle. (Private Collection).


Discovered in an obscure corner of a Glover Park basement in 2023, the age of this artifact is not in doubt, as it has retained its green tax strip, which reads “Made, Fall 1941” and  “Bottled, Fall 1946.” Although a case can be made that it might have been consumed and discarded by a contractor during a post-World War II home improvement project, other scenarios cannot be ruled out.

One of the oldest American whiskey brands––widely known as “Old Overcoat”––the Overholt Distillery in Broad Ford, Pennsylvania was founded by Abraham Overholt in 1810, inherited by his grandson Henry Clay Frick in 1881, and passed into the hands of Frick’s business partner, Andrew Mellon, in 1919.

(For further reading, see Sam Komlenic, “The True Story of Old Overholt Rye,” Whiskey Advocate, January, 2018.)




Cavalier Distilled Dry Gin.

This half pint bottle was discovered behind a cabinet during a kitchen remodeling in the 1990s. It is possible that it was finished and hidden by a workman during an earlier kitchen renovation, circa 1950. (The date printed on the label––“Copyright 1933”––refers to the year that the Continental Distilling Corporation of Philadelphia celebrated the repeal of Prohibition by introducing the Cavalier brand.)




Playing Marbles (Cat’s Eyes, Aggies, a blue Clearie, and a Lime Jelly-Mayonnaise Composite).

These glass spheres are the only surviving traces of a formerly ubiquitous children’s pastime. As it was usually played, a number of marbles were placed within a circle incised in a patch of bare ground, and participants then took turns trying to knock them out of the ring by propelling a larger marble at them with a dexterous flick of the thumb.

Marbles are most frequently associated with a Pre-Nixonian clay matrix, and may be found near the sides of older houses, or in well-shaded areas beneath trees at the edges of older playgrounds, but they also turn up in less readily predictable places. Aside from the highly-durable artifacts themselves, little of this ancient Spring ritual survives other than its terminology–knuckling down; funsies, or playing for fun; keepsies, or playing for keeps; and, of course, playing for all the marbles.







Tombstone Fragment, circa 1850.


In the second half of the 20th century, Holy Rood Cemetery was a place where vandalism flourished; the damage was compounded when lawn crews drove their trucks over toppled tombstones. This situation only began to be remedied in 2010, when Holy Trinity Catholic Church––whose burial ground it had been since 1832––and Georgetown University––which held title to the property––began discussion of a plan for its restoration. (Although the fragment, found on the east side of Tunlaw Road, is too small to be deciphered and reunited with its original plot, it was returned to the cemetery.)






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Fossil seashell.

Because limestone is composed almost entirely of the compacted and solidified sediment of ancient plants and animals that settled to the ocean floor, fossils of seashells like this one are frequently found preserved in it. And since the District of Columbia is below the Fall line, which is where the Atlantic coastal plain meets the Piedmont, it is conceivable that the ocean once extended this far inland. But as this particular fossil turned up near the bend in Whitehaven Street, behind Trader Joe’s and the Glover House, it could have gotten there in a truckload of fill, and its scientific value is negligible.





Found in the 2200 block of Tunlaw Road, these cobblestones have been tentatively identified as rejected material for Paleolithic tools, and are likely to have originated in College Run, a former stream that is now a storm-drain under 37th Street.

In the 19th century, amateur archaeologists identified the large deposits of cobblestones in local stream beds as places where prehistoric people obtained the raw material for making stone tools. A promising cobblestone, gradually reduced and shaped by a process called lithic reduction, was turned into a useful implement. When a stone didn’t break just right it was tossed aside after only a few blows. In the 1880s, the local cobble deposits that were dug up and carted away to pave city streets included so many that could (briefly) have been worked by human hands, that the archeologist William Henry Holmes was led to remark that Washington was being “paved with the art remains of a race who had occupied its site in the shadowy past.”




Fossil bivalve mollusk.

The scientific value of this particular fossil (tentatively identified as Cucullaea gigantea, an extinct species that flourished along the Potomac River and its tributaries upwards of fifty million years ago) is almost certainly impaired by the anomalous situation in which it was discovered, i.e. on the lid of a District of Columbia super can in Glover Park.)



Minie Ball, Caliber .58.

This Minié ball, standard ammunition for the army in the Civil War, was probably dropped by a Union soldier on duty at the Signal Camp of Instruction, a training facility for the newly-founded Signal Corps, and a part of a network of signal stations intended to give Washington timely warning of any Confederate threat. While it has always been clear that its northern end was the signal station atop Red Hill (where the Russian Embassy is today), this find, unearthed during backyard excavations on the west side of Tunlaw Road, suggests that the Signal Camp is likely to have extended to a point well south of what is now Benton Street.






Neo-Gothic Tracery Moulding, Indiana limestone.

Shaped elements of this type were left unguarded during construction of the National Cathedral. Discovery of this block at the rear of a former group house on Tunlaw Road is therefore consistent with the hypothesis that this “trophy” was transferred from its original location nocturnally. As it was abandoned in Glover Park circa 1992, it may be associated with the completion of the Cathedral’s West Towers in 1990, but earlier dates cannot be ruled out.




Detail, showing incised markings: “Y-7” “J.L.” “D.H”.


Approximate intended destination for this tracery moulding in the Bell Tower of  National Cathedral.




Entrenching Tool, M-1943,  Government Issue, (handle decomposed).  Military surplus items were ubiquitous during the Cold War, and constituted key elements in building “clubhouses” and “forts”.



Sign, “Long’s Fence”.  The fact that the Long Fence Company was a Washington firm since 1945, and moved to Tuxedo, Maryland in 1965, provides a convenient terminus post quem and a terminus ante quem for this artifact, and a date prior to 1960, when seven-digit dialing was introduced in Washington, is suggested by the letters LA., i.e. Lawrence, one of the old Washington telephone exchanges.  (“C&P Plans Fall Start for All-Number Dialing”, Evening Star, July 12, 1960. The author is indebted to Ariadne Henry for pointing out that the use of the old telephone exchanges persisted, in both speech and print, upwards of a decade.)



Magazine, Newsweek, August 11, 1969. Received by Mrs. Fanny Bonajuto, 2500 Wisconsin Avenue NW. 



Kresge Waxed Paper Folder, early 20th century (provenance unknown, anonymous donor). S.S. Kresge Co. opened its first five-and-dime in 1903. Kresge stores in Washington began to close in 1977, after the company changed its name to Kmart.



Kresge Waxed Paper Folder (reverse). The motto, “A thousand uses in the modern home” applied to the waxed paper sheets as well as the folder they came in: “When This Folder Is Empty Use It For Filing Patterns * Recipes * Accounts * Post Cards * Snap Shots * Souvenirs * Or For Many Other Purposes”.




Golf Balls: TopFlite 3 XL  Regular Trajectory; Wilson ProStaff Distance 4.



Billiard Cue Ball, Acrylic. The physics of the shot that caused this cue ball to achieve escape velocity, and come to rest outdoors, in an ivy patch at the rear of Observatory Place, present a rich field for conjecture.



Lincoln penny, 1951D. Unless something about their date resonates with the finder, coins found in yards are usually returned to circulation.



Lincoln penny, 1973D.



Jefferson nickel, 1963.



Washington quarter, 1974



Penny, “American Large Cent”, 1829 (struck by nail punch?). The site on Tunlaw Road where this coin was turned up by a gardener corresponds to lot 266 of Beatty and Hawkins’ Addition to Georgetown, land owned by Michael Homiller in 1820.



Ford Meter Box lid, installed circa 1950, replaced by plastic ones in 2002. Edwin Ford invented the meter box in 1898, as a place to install water meters outside of houses.



Wall Calendar and Delivery Schedule, Chestnut Farms Sealtest Milk, 1952. The large number of relics from the Age of Milk Man attest the presence of a highly evolved dairy culture. Milk bottles are most commonly found outdoors, under the primeval ivy in alleys. Delivery schedules, order slips and other paper ephemera are more likely to come to light indoors, usually during kitchen renovations, when archaic refrigerators are removed.



Pad of Order Slips, Thompson’s Honor Dairy.



Pad of Order Slips, Thompson’s Honor Dairy (reverse).



Milk Bottle, pint, Wakefield Simpson Brothers Dairy (pre-1940?).



Milk advertisement (Washington Post, April 14, 1924, p.16). A bottle (corresponding in every way to the 1924 advertisement) was exposed by yard cleaning in 1991, but as the site was not residentially developed until 1928, dating is problematic.



Milk Bottle, half pint, inscribed “Safe Milk for Babies”, Chestnut Farms Dairies, Chevy Chase (date unknown).



Milk BottleEmbassy Dairy (1951?).



Insulator, Hemingray-42, aqua glass. Left behind after utility repair at 37th and U Streets.



Mason jar, No.10, Ball Ideal, with glass lid , blue (1923-1933?).



Mason jar, No.8, Ball Perfect, screw top, without lid , blue (pre-1937 lettering).



Bottle, Frank Steil Brewing Company, Baltimore (date unknown).



Bottle, Rock Creek Ginger Ale, Company, Washington D.C. (embossed “4/52”).



Bottle, “REM”, i.e. Remington gun oil.



Bottle, Old Dominion Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co., Arlington, Virginia (1958-1964?).




Carlton Fletcher

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The support of the Advisory Neighborhood Council (3B) is gratefully acknowledged.