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Archaeological Dig Reveals More Than Meets The Eye at North End’s Paul Revere House

Team from Public Archaeology Lab inside 5-6 Lathrop Place behind the Paul Revere House.

Renovating an 1835 North End building has turned into a mini-archaeological dig at 5-6 Lathrop Place for the staff at the adjacent Paul Revere House. Executive Director Nina Zanneri shared a quick look at the goings on inside 5-6 Lathrop Place now that the exterior is relatively complete for their future visitors and education center. Much has been accomplished since we checked in last November, but there is still plenty more work to do before the building opens to the public in 2013.

One of the many dig sites inside the Lathrop Place building.Having found a very old blue bottle and other potential artifacts, the Paul Revere House brought in the highly regarded Public Archaeology Lab to further investigate some areas of the property. “We are not sure these pieces ever belonged to Paul Revere, but they might have historical merit.” said Zannieri. In the digging, the team has found what appears to be an interior privy, which may contain some interesting relics.

Bags of pieces ready to go to the lab for testing.Unlike many North End building renovations where artifact finds are deemed to be a nuisance, the Paul Revere House sees an opportunity to research and learn from the project. Dozens of bagged pieces are being collected to be further examined in the lab. The staff hopes to exhibit noteworthy artifacts in the new visitors center.

North End resident and local history pundit, Anne M. Pistorio, shares a Boston Landmarks Commission document of 6 Lathrop Place describing its history. “One of the few wooden buildings left in the North End. It serves as an example of the type of housing in the area before the mass immigration wave made it necessary (and profitable) to build larger brick tenements. A deed search seems to indicate that all the buildings in this alley were constructed about 1835 by John Perkins and Jonathan Robinson, housewrights. Perkins and Robinson bought the land from Lydia Loring in 1835 for $4,245.”

Pear tree in the Paul Revere House courtyard.As for the ongoing expansion campaign, the Paul Revere House Association has raised over two-thirds of their construction goal to complete the project. The next two years will be very busy as the staff works to complete construction, design exhibits and restore the courtyard garden, all while hosting its thousands of annual visitors. Watch for the Association to approach the community and zoning boards in the coming months for necessary variances as the renovation moves forward.

For more information on the Paul Revere House expansion or to donate to the project, see PaulRevereHouse.org. And if you haven’t visited lately, remember that North End residents are waived the $3.50 entry fee.

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