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News and Events
PAL is committed to sponsoring community and historic preservation organizations and events. Links to information about upcoming events we are sponsoring are provided below.
PAL 2019 Event Sponsorships
PAL Laboratory Manager Heather Olson contributed to a recent Smithsonian Magazine article on the historic Snowtown Neighborhood in Providence read the article.
“Before Rhode Island Built Its State House….” The October 5 online edition of Smithsonian Magazine reported recent work on the history and archaeology of Providence’s Snowtown neighborhood, highlighting PAL’s work with the archaeological collection and the Snowtown Project. Snowtown was a small, mixed-race neighborhood in early-1800s Providence. It was the site of a racially motivated mob attack in the fall of 1831, but it was also home to a diverse community of poor Black and white laborers; eventually becoming the home of waves of migrants and laborers, extra-legal entrepreneurs and widowed mothers. By the end of the 19th century, the Snowtown community was displaced by railroad construction and urban development, including the RI State House completed in 1904. Recent efforts by PAL and the Snowtown Project researchers have focused on bringing this important part of Rhode Island history back in focus through intensive archival research, interpretation, and public programming.
Organized by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, this program promotes Rhode Island's rich archaeological heritage through a series of free public educational events in October led by professional and academic volunteers.
For more information go to https://preservation.ri.gov/archaeology/archaeology-month.
Suzanne Cherau, Senior Archaeologist at the Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc., will discuss the excavation of the Pierce Distillery archaeology site and the history of rum distilling in New England. Cherau was a principal excavator for the site and graciously makes herself available for questions about this important part of the history of Bristol, RI.
Monday, September 28th 7 PM
This presentation is free and open to the public but participants must register in advance. Please contact the Society at 253-7223 for more information. https://bhpsri.org/
In 2007, an archaeological dig at the corner of State St. and Thames St. uncovered wooden vats that were part of “The Distillery”, a partnership of Bristol merchants headed by the distiller Jarvis Pierce. These round and rectangular vats held a mixture of molasses and water that once fermented was pumped into large copper pots, heated, and distilled into finished rum. While some of the rum was transferred into casks or “hogsheads” for local consumption, most was shipped to Africa where it was traded for slaves. A rare find, the Pierce Distillery archaeology site reveals how rum was produced in massive quantities in order to feed the cycle of African enslavement.
A graduate of Georgetown University and of the Universite de Dijon-Bourgogne in France, Suzanne Cherau is a Registered Professional Archaeologist and has worked as a senior archaeologist/principal investigator for PAL, Inc. since 1987. She has directed over 450 cultural resources management projects in New England, New York, and New Jersey. Her specialties also include archaeological predictive modeling, New England historic urban and industrial archaeology including mill dam removal, New England prehistoric archaeology, and historic preservation planning.
Suzanne Cherau, PAL Senior Archaeologist, will be a guest speaker at the Holmes Park Revitaization Dedication. Come celebrate the completion of the Holmes Dam Removal, Newfield Street Bridge Replacement and Holmes Park Revitalization!
Saturday October 5th, 2019 - 10:00am
Newfield Street, Plymouth
Archaeological Site History
PAL industrial archaeologists completed excavations at the nineteenth-century Robinson Iron Rolling Mill and Nail Factory archaeological site, within the Town Brook Historic and Archaeological District in the heart of downtown Plymouth, Massachusetts. The excavations were part of the Town’s project to remove the Holmes Playground Dam off Summer Street, which is the last obstacle to fish passage upstream of the historic Jenney Grist Mill Site. The dam removal was undertaken by the Town of Plymouth and its partners including the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, Division of Ecological Restoration to restore anadromous fish passage on Town Brook between the Atlantic Ocean and spawning grounds in the Billington Sea. PAL’s archaeological work at the industrial site included data recovery excavations in one of the two nineteenth-century iron rolling mill buildings, which contained four side by side large brick furnaces or ovens used to reheat wrought iron bars for rolling into nail stock, plate, and similar products. Large scale machinery parts including timber framing, iron pins and rods, chains, weights, and three 4 ft by 1.5 ft diameter metal rollers from the iron roll trains have also been recovered in the former mill building footprint. PAL’s archaeological site work continued this fall as construction monitoring during the removal of the dam masonry structure and associated excavations in other former buildings at the iron factory complex.
Watch the YouTube video featuring footage of PAL Archaeologist Jen Banister and the archaeological site area and finds. David Gould, the Town of Plymouth’s Director of Marine and Environmental Affairs, discusses the project and the historic and archaeological work being conducted by PAL.
Aerial photos were provided by the Town of Plymouth from their Drone recording the project.
Massachusetts Historic Preservation Conference 2019. Pal senior staff will be participating in two sessions this year. 2019 MHCP Conference Site
September 20, 2019
180 Water Street
Plymouth, MA 02360
Session 1A: Landscape Planning and Preservation – Modern Non-invasive Techniques and Methods
Non-invasive technologies are used to assess, document, and analyze historic landscapes above and below ground. These cutting-edge methods include geophysical surveys (ground-penetrating radar, conductivity, resistance, magnetic gradient, metallic surveys); remote sensing; and 3-D imaging technologies. This panel will showcase properties and discuss specific techniques and how they aid project implementation and inform landscape interpretation and preservation. Case studies include Parker’s Revenge (Lexington), Town Bandstand and Ellis School House (Millis), Franklin Park (Boston), Fort Pickering (Salem), Gore Place (Waltham), and Fowler Clark Epstein Farm (Boston/Mattapan).
Maureen Cavanaugh, PAL Senior Planner, Moderator/Presenter
Session 3B: Archaeology in Plymouth
In the late 1940s, Henry Hornblower II, a summer resident of Plymouth and a self-taught historical archaeologist, introduced the idea for an open-air museum dedicated to telling the story of the Pilgrims through replicas of Pilgrim and Native American dwellings in a village setting. Plimouth Plantation opened its doors in 1955, and since then, our knowledge of the pre-history and post-contact history of Plymouth―Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians alike—has grown considerably, largely due to the efforts of archaeologists, historians, and scholars. This session will discuss the history of the town and the “history of archaeology” as it has been manifested in Plymouth.
Suzanne Cherau, PAL Senior Archaeologist, Moderator/Presenter
Kristen Heitert, PAL Senior Archaeologist, Presenter
We are excited to announce that PAL will be a part of this year’s free festival by Doors Open RI! Saturday September 28, 2019 visitors can tour and experience the beauty of some of the hidden gems in Pawtucket and Central Falls. In 2011 PAL purchased and renovated the historic To Kalon Club on Main Street in Pawtucket to serve as its corporate headquarters. Come by between 10am – 4pm for a self-guided tour of the building and view some of our archaeological collections in our lab. PAL staff will be on hand to answer questions on the building and the artifacts!
For more details on this event visit
The Bristol Historical & Preservation Society's Annual Winter Luncheon will feature guest speaker, Suzanne Cherau, Senior Archaeologist at The Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc. "The Past is Present: An Archaeological Glimpse into Bristol's 18th & 19th Century Rum Distilleries" will focus on the 2007 discovery of early 19th century remains of a rum distillery under the Belvedere development on Thames Street in Bristol. For additional information visit Bristol Historical and Preservation Society Press Release and the January 10th Bristol Phoenix Article
Date:Sunday, January 27, 2019
Time:12:00 PM - 2:30 PM
Cost / donation: $40 per person, pre-registration required
Noreen Stonor Drexel Cultural and Historic Preservation program at Salve Regina University will host this Fall (October 12-13, 2018) its annual cultural and historic preservation conference on the theme “Community Preservation through Adaptive Reuse.” The purpose of this conference is to explore adaptive reuse as a form of community preservation. Potential topics include position papers, conceptualizing adaptive reuse, historical analysis, and case studies.
Adaptive reuse is a strategy commonly employed by preservationists, architects, and planners to extend the use-life of historic buildings and sites. Perhaps because it is not as readily measurable as financial benefits, the ability of adaptive reuse to strengthen community relationships and identities is often overlooked. Despite this lack of attention, adaptive reuse has the potential to be a powerful form of place-making that promotes community solidarity. Taking this perspective, historic buildings and sites are seen as more than fabric. They are also seen as richly layered “texts” that combine material and non-material cultural narratives of a community’s past, present, and even future. In many cases, the range of narratives associated with a particular building or site is as diverse as the community itself, which has the potential to create a shared sense of history.
Friday October 12
8-8:45 a.m. Organized Session
“The Cushing House Museum: Enhancing Community Preservation through Inclusive Access”
Elena M. Pascarella, Susan C.S. Edwards, Kristen Heitert (PAL)
8:45 a.m. – 9:05 a.m. Discussion
9:15 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Adaptive Reuse in Rhode Island
“From the TK Club to PAL: Preserving a Pawtucket Landmark through Adaptive Use”
Gretchen Pineo (PAL)
For additional information visit http://chpconference.salvereginablogs.com/