Archaeological Report Number
An intensive archaeological survey was conducted at the James and Ellen G. White House site (20CA118) in Battle Creek, Michigan over a seven-week period from May 4-June 24, 1998. The house is a well-known local landmark that was occupied from 1856-1863 by a family that was instrumental in founding the Seventh-day Adventist denominational movement. Although the original site has been subdivided and subjected to significant modification since the third quarter of the 19th century, the 1856 wood-frame Greek Revival house remains extant. Investigations were oriented towards identifying the presence of subsurface archaeological remains and site features that can inform about the landscapes and social identities of the 19th century occupants and subsequent changes.
Documentary evidence suggested the presence of various outbuildings and other landscape features that were typically associated with mid-19th century suburban households in the region. The purpose of the survey was to identify and evaluate material traces of buildings and activity areas in the vicinity of the house and the adjacent property to the south. The identification of archaeologically-sensitive areas would assist preservation planning by the Historic Adventist Village in their efforts to develop the neighborhood for interpretive and religious purposes. A geophysical survey employing magnetometry, soil conductivity, and ground penetrating radar was conducted to locate subsurface anomalies of potential archaeological interest. These results-along with information from local informants, surficial clues, and limited testing in 1996-were used to guide the placement of 29 hand-excavated units of varying size.
Our survey indicates that the site of lot 64 in Manchester's 3rd Addition has experienced disturbances, particularly in the areas south and west of the White's house. However, investigations also exposed artifacts and features in undisturbed contexts from the mid-19th century through the present. Thus, there appear to be intact material deposits with contextual integrity, some of which probably date to the period associated with the Whites' occupation of the house. Noteworthy artifacts and features include: significant quantities of mid-19th century ceramic types, canning jar fragments that may date to the third quarter of the 19th century (1858-1875), a cement-plastered cistern, and a possible root cellar in the door yard immediately behind the house. Given the presence of these deposits, the site appears eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historical Places. Furthermore, we recommend that subsurface disturbance be avoided in these areas of the site until further evaluation can be conducted.