Villa Louis walkway reconstruction finds previously unknown structures

Error message

  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 133 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/
  • Notice: Trying to get property 'settings' of non-object in _simpleads_adgroup_settings() (line 343 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/
  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 157 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in include() (line 24 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/templates/simpleads_ajax_call.tpl.php).

Although it may not look like much, this archway, discovered by the removal of tree roots, could be a part of the original Fort Crawford or the first house built on the Villa Louis site. (Melissa R. Collum/ Courier Press)

By Melissa R. Collum

The sidewalk renovations on the second phase of the carriage drive and walkway replacement at the Villa Louis, have come to a slowdown owing to the unearthing of previously unknown structures.
The areas on the south side of the building, near the rose garden and the front veranda the excavation work has been temporarily halted owing to the fact that a cistern and a possible well, have been unearthed.
“The plan was to remove the stone that was there and create a level foundation and put the gravel in and the new walkway,” notes Mary Elise Antoine, Villa Louis site curator. “As they were scooping up the fill, they hit a lime stone channel. The channel goes to a cistern. It is all a part of the water system of the house.”
According to Antione, when the house was built in 1871, the roof was constructed with built-in gutters and all of the water was collected. It was brought down via drainpipes to the cisterns. “There are cisterns on the south side of the veranda,” notes Antione, “we figure that this must be an overflow.” The site archeologist did an interior photograph of the structure and found that it is all limestone, built in a circle, with a beehive top, and dry laid.
The roof of the house has gone through several reshinglings and it was when the metal roof was taken off and the current cedar shingle roof put on, that the gutter system was closed off. “We have an architect working on all of this because there is another whole project having to do with the roof, molding, and trim,” states Antione. “They went up where the one chimney is and they took off some of the cedar shingles, and sure enough, there it is! So, we want to reconstruct the gutter systems.”
Upon the removal of a tree whose roots were impacting the walkway on the north west side of the house, another structure was found. “It seems to be an arch. It has not been fully excavated because they don’t want it to collapse. It is historic but we don’t know if it is from the Fort or the first house,” states Antione. “It seems the arch has been filled in with soft red brick, which would have been first house, but we don’t know what it is. It could be a part of the Fort, because the barracks ran up to the mound and ran back down the mound. There is an 1827 map of the main village and there is a building here inside of the Fort.”
There is an archaeologist on site when Rock Church Construction is doing any work. All of the work is monitored and must be mapped and records kept for the state historical society. This site, will be a more intensive archeological dig because of the unknown origins of the structure. “It will be more than monitoring. They will set up a grid system, every archeological excavation is given a number, and anything that is found will be categorized. Then there is a report written,” comments Antione.
It is very important to note that “The whole island is a historic site because of all the people who have lived here for thousands of years. It is always very questionable when private individuals metal detects on property that is not their personal property,” comments Antione. “Professional archeologists will use metal detectors, to determine if something is there and then there is a recorded archeological excavation. They don’t go in with a share object and dig it out.” The Villa Louis structures and grounds are the property of the Wisconsin State Historical Society and no metal detecting is allowed by private individuals.

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (10 votes)