Archeological efforts at Worker's Row House in Corktown honored

The archeological dig at the Corktown Worker's Row House and the Book Cadillac Hotel rehabilitation have won the 2009 Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation.

We all know the story about the rebirth of the Book Cadillac, but the Corktown Worker's Row House Archaeological Project has flown a little bit more under the radar. Wayne State University Department of Anthropology and the Greater Corktown Development Corp teamed up to document what was left behind in the backyard of the 160-year-old building.

The row house served as a worker tenement for most of the time that Detroit grew into what it is today. It served as the home to a number of families partaking in the Motor City's industrialization and rapid immigration of the 19th and 20th centuries. Wayne State students and faculty have been continuously working to see how they lived their lives since 2006.

"There's a lot of variety of people who have lived in Corktown," says Tom Killion, professor of anthropology at Wayne State University who also runs the archeological dig. "We want to get at that and find out who lived there. It's quite unique."

The Greater Corktown Development Corp plans to turn the 2-story wood structure (one of the oldest in the city) into a museum and interpretive center. Artifacts found from the archeological dig will be used as exhibits in the museum. For the time being those items will be displayed at the Museum of Anthropology in Old Main on Wayne State's campus on Oct. 9.

The historic preservation awards were established in 2003 to recognize outstanding historic preservation achievements that exhibit the state’s unique character. These types of projects have also served as an economic engine, pumping $390 million in investment into Michigan, creating 4,500 jobs. Previous winners of the award include the former Detroit home of Motown founder Barry Gordy, Jr. in Boston Edison.

Source: Tom Killion, professor of anthropology at Wayne State University
Writer: Jon Zemke
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