Lamar Terrace Archaelogical Project

The Project

Lamar Terrace Archaeology Project The Lamar Terrace Archaeology Project was a multi-disciplinary cultural resources study conducted by Panamerican Consultants, Inc. under contract with the Memphis Housing Authority (MHA). The demolition of 1939 Lamar Terrace Housing Project in 2005 was part of a capital improvement project funded by the HOPE VI grant. Today, a mixed income, mixed-use development known as University Place occupies the former Lamar Terrace site.

The Lamar Terrace Archaeology Project was conducted in stages, and there are two technical reports that detail the work (see Report Citations). Initially, Panamerican archaeologists monitored the demolition of the Lamar Terrace Housing Project. During the monitoring stage a variety of cultural deposits were documented, artifact samples were collected, and three archaeological sites were defined within the 28 acre study tract based on old block patterns. These sites were assigned the official, or trinomial, designations of 40SY695, 40SY696, and 40SY697 by the Tennessee Division of Archaeology. Significantly, a stratified, artifact rich historic midden was identified within 40SY695, in what was once a courtyard formed by Lamar Terrace buildings 592, 602, and 612.

The Results The results of the monitoring work were presented to MHA in a draft report dated July 2005. In addition to documenting the archaeological deposits and describing the collected artifacts in detail, the report contains the results of archival research that resulted in the development of neighborhood-specific cultural context and an ethnographic study of the Mt. Nebo Baptist Church. The report concluded that the significant deposit at 40SY695 was eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) under criterion D (information potential). The Tennessee State Historic Preservation office (SHPO) concurred, and this lead to a full-scale archaeological excavation at the site.

Prior to initiating the full-scale archaeological excavation, Panamerican prepared a data recovery plan that detailed the field and lab methods that would be used, and outlined a series of research themes that guide the investigation. After receiving the approval of the State Historic Preservation Office, the site was excavated during December 2005 and January 2006. The excavations resulted in the recovery of a treasure trove of cultural material dating principally to ca. 1890-1920, and broadly dating to ca. 1870-1939. Over 22,000 artifacts were recovered, including a large collection of whole bottles. The information and artifacts that were unearthed at Lamar Terrace revel that these early Memphis urbanites were active participants in the global and regional economic systems that emerged during the Progressive Era.

A report that detailed the project results was prepared, and the final edition was submitted to MHA during March 2007. The report is 470 pages long, not including technical appendices, and includes over 400 illustrations and 57 data tables. Copies of the report were donated to the Memphis History Room of the Memphis Main Library, and the Mississippi Valley Collection (Special Collections) of the McWorter Library, University of Memphis.