Levering Coffee Site (18BC51)
The Levering Coffee site (18BC51), more commonly known as
Chase’s Wharf, contains late 18th- and 19th-century residential
and commercial buildings and mid-to-late 19th-century
warehouses at Fells Point in Baltimore. It is south of
Thames Street along the Patapsco waterfront. Chase’s Wharf
was one of many wharves located in this area since the
early 18th century. A 1773 plat of Fells Point depicts
it on Lots #53 and #54. Because of landfilling activities
in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Chase’s Wharf
was extended a considerable distance into the Patapsco
River. Therefore, the modern site rests partly on original
land and partly on fill soils.
In 1767, Ann Fell sold Lot #53 and the west half of Lot #54
to Hercules Courtenay. He likely built a wharf and accompanying
buildings there. In 1771, Fell leased the other half of Lot
#54 to Abraham VanBibber, who conveyed it to Isaac VanBibber.
VanBibber began filling the shoreline, and constructed a wharf.
By the end of the 18th century, there were several dwellings
on Lots #53 and #54. In 1798, Thorndick Chase bought a half
interest in #53 and the west half of #54, and was living there
by 1804. By 1816 he was also leasing the east half of #54.
The properties stayed in the possession of the Chase family
and their business interests until 1873, and Chase’s Wharf
derives its name from them. During the Chase period of ownership,
numerous brick or frame warehouses, a brick office, and brick
dwellings were erected on the lots. A three-story brick
warehouse, built between 1846 and 1848, still stands there
In 1873, the Chase’s Wharf property was sold to the B&O Railroad,
and most of its buildings were used as coffee warehouses. The
B&O razed a number of older structures, constructed at least
one new one, and probably replaced a few existing warehouses.
By 1890, the Levering Coffee Company occupied a warehouse there,
and gave the site its “official” name. The B&O used Chase’s
Wharf for unloading and storing coffee into the early 20th
century. After 1914, it called the location “Chase’s Station.”
But the coffee trade declined in the early 1900s, and by 1914
only two warehouses were still used for coffee. Over the next
few decades, the warehouses stored lumber, ship supplies, rags,
railroad materials, and other articles. By the early 1980s,
Bond Street Associates had acquired a number of former industrial
properties in Fells Point, including Chase’s Wharf.
Chase’s Wharf was excavated in 1984 as part of the Fells Point
Project sponsored by the Maryland Historical Trust. 18BC51 and
a number of other sites were investigated. The property owner,
Bond Street Associates, funded the survey in advance of development.
But they declared bankruptcy in 1987, so the development never
occurred. As a result, no report was completed. However, in
2003 existing field records were examined to reconstruct the
In 1984, 18CV51 was first graded down to pre-1850 levels. Backhoe
trenches were then excavated, along with at least 25 test units.
Remains from three building phases were uncovered: 1) late 18th-/early
19th-century residential and mercantile establishments; 2) mid
19th-century warehouses; 3) 1860s-1880s warehouses. Artifacts
included Rhenish stoneware, slipware, Chinese porcelain, creamware,
pearlware, whiteware, wine bottles, and clay pipes. Dates ranged
from 1750 to the 20th century. Numerous features associated with
warehouses and other infrastructure were identified. Excavation
records for the northwestern and extreme southern portions of the
site are missing, although artifact catalogs for these areas are
present. The oldest portions of the site, the northeast and center
sections, were the most extensively excavated. The original shoreline
and filled areas, along with associated bulkheads, were identified.
The excavation documented the construction of several
Monitoring of the site took place in 2004, when development by The
Living Classrooms Foundation required the removal of an existing
bulkhead and pier, as well as the construction of new facilities.
The extant 19th-century coffee warehouse was also restored. The
remains of timber cribs used to create the filled land of the site,
two overlapping sets of railroad tracks, and a former water break
were documented. While the lower set of railroad tracks was somewhat
unexpected, no significant archaeological features were observed
(Edited from Diagnostic
Artifacts in Maryland, Small Finds)