Privy 3 Site (18BC81)

The Privy 3 site (18BC81), a small area in the central portion of Property 1, consisted of a circa 1900 privy in the rear lot of either 424 or 426 West Conway Street in the Camden Yards area of Baltimore. Property 1 encompassed all of Block 688 and part of Block 862. These blocks were bounded by West Conway Street on the south, Paca Street on the north, Little Paca Street on the east and Warner Street on the west. The two blocks were divided by Little Green Street. Both blocks were bisected by Burgundy Alley. Today, the site is covered by Camden Yards, the stadium for the Baltimore Orioles.

Development of this area began by the early 1820s, although the land was owned by three brickmakers by the late 18th century. Most early nineteenth-century residents of the general area were unskilled laborers or individual entrepreneurs like brickmakers, laborers, carpenters, bakers, grocers or innkeepers (Kuranda et al 1992:135). After death of George Warner, one of the brickmakers, in 1829, Blocks 688 and 862 were inherited by his daughter Dorothy and her husband Anthony Miltenberger, a cigar and tobacco manufacturer. After 1830, the tract was subdivided and lots sold to a number of individuals. The properties were mostly rented out to tenants, who used the properties as both homes and businesses. By 1837, lots in block 688 along South Paca Street had been developed as townhomes. Tenant and owner occupation was evenly divided and residents were, for the most part, upper middle class. Most structures in the 400 block of West Conway Street were residential, with most being 2.5 story brick buildings; some with stables, carriage houses or brick dwellings on Burgundy Alley. Residents were primarily middle and upper middle class entrepreneurs who owned businesses in other parts of the city. Several residents were tenants.

Between 1837 and 1858, the character of the neighborhood changed, with the establishment of several industries, including an iron foundry, a chemical factory, a lead works and a shot tower. Residents were more likely to be tenants and to include tavern keepers, saddlers, clerks, police and railroad workers. African American residents lived primarily along Burgundy Alley; by 1858 there were 22 small dwellings occupied by free blacks. Large scale commercial development began by the end of the nineteenth century, with stores, warehouses and manufacturers along the south side of Conway Street. The Burgundy Alley dwellings had also been converted or replaced for commercial uses. In the late nineteenth century, multi-family dwellings predominated, with residents (including Italian immigrants, second generation Irish and Germans, as well as African Americans) generally consisting on unskilled or semi-skilled laborers. By the turn of the twentieth century, Block 688 was largely commercial, with only twelve dwelling surviving by 1928. Block 862 remained almost entirely residential until its demolition; the block was characterized by multiple or extended family occupancy, mixed ethnic backgrounds, semi-skilled occupations and tenancy.

This site was examined as part of the larger Camden Yards project conducted by R. Christopher Goodwin and Associates between October 1989 and March of 1990. Construction activities had destroyed the upper levels of the privy feature, with only the lowest 10.63” (27 cm) remaining. It appears that this was the only feature excavated/salvaged on this portion of the property. A total of 1285 artifacts were recovered from the privy feature, with 100% of the artifacts retained. The feature contains a collection of sewing related items, probably associated with one of the tenants. Faunal remains and paleobotanical remains were identified, but full-scale analysis is not believed to have been completed. It is believed to represent a multi-family privy, probably associated with the German immigrant households of Julia Proffen, seamstress, Alexander Haas, plumber, and Adolph Pfeffer, day laborer.

(Written by Patricia Samford)

References

  • Kuranda, Kathryn, Elizabeth Pena, Suzanne Sanders, Martha R. Williams, David Landon, and Justine Woodard
  • 1992. Archeological and Architectural Investigations at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland 2 vols. R. Christopher Goodwin and Associates, Inc.

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