New Haven History
8:58 am
Wed April 30, 2014

Construction at CenterPlan Unearths Artifacts From New Haven's Past

"This is the exact area of New Haven that the original settlers in 1638 landed."
Robert S. Greenberg

Artifacts from New Haven's past are surfacing in the huge construction site at College and George Streets in the Elm City. Many citizens are concerned that the construction could destroy a link to New Haven's earliest days.

When construction crews at the CenterPlan development started unearthing old glass and pottery shards, amateur historian and life-long New haven resident Robert S. Greenberg, wasn't surprised. He said underneath this site could be New Haven's "holy grail."

"This is the exact area of New Haven that the original settlers in 1638 landed," Greenberg said. "It could be the earliest material that could be buried in the ground, right there."

Greenberg has been barred from searching the site for artifacts by CenterPlan, citing OSHA regulations. So Greenberg contacted state archeologist Nick Bellantoni, who was granted access.

On Monday, Bellantoni unearthed hundreds of items, mainly shards of glass wine bottles and cattle horns dating to the 1700s, suggesting a wine-making and cattle-processing operation on the site. Greenberg said that when crews dig deeper, they will find the privies, or personal landfills, of the earliest settlers. "I believe that they're still there," he said, "and these guys are getting closer and closer to those areas."

Greenberg said CenterPlan has promised to record artifact locations on a site map for Nick Bellantoni, who plans to return when the crews dig deeper in spots that seem the most promising for more artifacts.