April 2007

During April 2007, Statistical Research, Inc. (SRI) continued archaeological excavations in the Joint Courts Complex (JCC) project area. The beginning of the month was marked by the transfer of our field lab out of the building at 240 North Stone and into two modular buildings placed in the project area. Apart from a few minor glitches, the transfer went smoothly, and by the end of the month the demolition of the old building was under way. The end of April also brought us to the end of our first six months in the field, or the halfway point in our projected 12 months of fieldwork. Our progress has been steady since beginning fieldwork last November, and we remain confident that we will complete excavations by the end of October.

The total number of graves discovered in the project area increased during April from 286 to 359, for a month’s total of 73. As in March, we continued to excavate exclusively within the civilian portion of the cemetery while awaiting the removal of underground utilities and utility poles from the project area. Nearly all of our work for the month was in the area north of Council Street, west of Grossetta Avenue, and immediately east of the building at 240 North Stone. This area was most recently the parking lot for the offices in 240 North Stone, and it had served as a parking lot for the same or other buildings since 1960 or so. Before that, a small single-story apartment complex had stood there, built in the late 1920s; and before that, two small houses took up a portion of the area. The density of graves in this area has been consistently high as we have worked our way east to west, and it is highly probable that the same density continues under at least a portion of 240 North Stone. Post-cemetery features found under the old parking lot include a large, deep privy pit filled with construction debris and household trash, probably associated with the house that once stood at 78 Grossetta.

In addition to our work immediately east of 240 North Stone, we also continued excavation in the area just north of that building, where we had previously uncovered traces of the foundation of the John and Dolores Brown residence. The Brown residence was one of the first houses built in the project area and stood at 270 North Stone from around 1890 into the 1930s. In April, we finished documenting the foundation remnants of the house and proceeded to remove them, only to discover a small basement in one corner of the house. The basement is not depicted on the Sanborn fire insurance maps of the project area, one of the best records of former architecture in downtown Tucson, so its discovery was something of a surprise (though we have found other small residential basements in the project area that are similarly unrepresented on the fire insurance maps). The Brown basement had a red brick floor and nicely finished walls of cut basalt laid up with mortar. We found it filled with bricks and other debris, probably from the demolition of the house in the 1930s.