Could you imagine walking through your house and finding historical artifacts left under floorboards or buried in the basement more than 250 years ago by the home's past owner andbuilder, George Washington? Alexandria, Virginia couple Rick Garcia and Heather Price Garcia are carefully excavating their time capsule of a home, built by Washington himself, after he purchased the property in 1763. City archeologists and those from Washington's more famous nearby home, Mount Vernon, are working closely with the Garcia's as they work to preserve and document unearthed items with such a rich history.
(All Photos: Missy Schrott/Alexandria Times)
Missy Schrott of the Alexandria Times interviewed the Garcias about living in George Washington's "city house" at 123 S. Pitt St. in historic Old Town Alexandria, outside of Washington, DC. Garcia says they were excited to purchase the property about four years ago since his wife is actually a distant relative to George Washington through Washington's great-grandfather, John. They never thought they would find bottles, glass, trinkets and shells when the couple decided to add a basement to the house. Garcia said an engineer and an architect found a well and a cistern during the digging. He says, "Nobody had ever been down there, so nobody knew what was there!"
Now the dirt basement is an archeology site that has the city and Mount Vernon Estate very intrigued in what lies beneath the Garcia's living room floor. City Archeologist Garrett Fesler says, "We always appreciate it when owners of pieces of Alexandria...contact us and let us know that something interesting is coming out of the ground on their property, so we can be there and work with them to record it." Fesler says Washington's home is very exciting because of the well, which he calls a real "present from the past."
Fesler says, "Wells and cisterns are one of the most exciting things that an archeologist working in Alexandria can find. They’re sort of like time capsules of history. You never know what somebody may have dropped down that well or put in it on purpose or how it got filled up.” Fesler says the Garcias have been great stewards of the history of their property, which is so important for the entire city. The family has collected over 2,000 pieces ranging from civil war buttons, tools, and antique beer bottles to bones, teeth and marbles. Garcia says, "This is the perfect house for my wife and I, and that her family built it makes it much more worth it." He adds, "There's nothing like that, being able to walk into a house and say, 'Well, my relatives, my lineage, built this home 250 years ago'." After Washington's death in 1799, ownership was transferred to his wife Martha. When she died almost three years later, it went to Washington's estate and passed on to his nephews. The digging continues to the delight of the homeowners and historians.