Tales from the Archives: DAR's "Big Dig"

Written by: Amanda Vasquez, DAR Archivist
March 13, 2019

DAR takes pride in its beautiful National Headquarters located in Washington, DC. When turning the pages through history, a theme that emerges time and time again is the restoration and maintenance of these historic buildings as they age.

In the mid-2000s a survey was conducted that identified several large construction projects, some of which were deemed critical, that needed to be completed over the next 10 years.

At the time, President General Linda Gist Calvin incorporated some of these building improvements into her President General’s Project “Open Doors of Hospitality.” In 2009, a major construction project stabilized the Memorial Continental Hall terraces and installed a new storage vault under the north terrace on D Street. DAR staff nicknamed this project DAR’s “Big Dig.”

During the excavation of the north terrace of Memorial Continental Hall, glass bottles and earthenware were found and removed. We believe they date from the 1870s to the 1920s.

The images in this slideshow are a sample of the items found. 


Jar, "Moutarde de Bordin de Paris, Fournisseur de S.M. L'Empereur," or "Mustard of Bordin of Paris, Supplier for His Majesty the Emperor"

Jar, "Moutarde de Bordin de Paris, Fournisseur de S.M. L'Empereur," or "Mustard of Bordin of Paris, Supplier for His Majesty the Emperor"

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Sink piece

Sink piece

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English china dish

English china dish

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China Fragment

China Fragment

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Jug or pitcher, possibly used to dispense medicine

Jug or pitcher, possibly used to dispense medicine

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The glass bottles are pressed from a mold. The iridescent colors are a symptom of “glass disease,” which was caused by prolonged exposure to water under the ground.

The glass bottles are pressed from a mold. The iridescent colors are a symptom of “glass disease,” which was caused by prolonged exposure to water under the ground.

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Water bottle, "Congress & Empire Spring Co., Saratoga N.Y."

Water bottle, "Congress & Empire Spring Co., Saratoga N.Y."

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Medicine bottle, “Piso’s Cure for Consumption, Hazeltine & Co.”

Medicine bottle, “Piso’s Cure for Consumption, Hazeltine & Co.”

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Medicine bottle, “Wm. B. Entwisle & Co., Pharmacists, Pa. Ave. & 12 St. N.W., Washington D.C.”

Medicine bottle, “Wm. B. Entwisle & Co., Pharmacists, Pa. Ave. & 12 St. N.W., Washington D.C.”

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Ink bottle, “Stafford’s Ink”

Ink bottle, “Stafford’s Ink”

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Medicine bottle, “Healy & Bigelow’s Kickapoo Indian Oil”

Medicine bottle, “Healy & Bigelow’s Kickapoo Indian Oil”

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Glass inkwell, “J & IEM”

Glass inkwell, “J & IEM”

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Work to maintain and improve the DAR Headquarters has continued in the last 10 years. These projects are often administered by the President General. Recently, President General Ann Turner Dillon spearheaded the restoration of the stage in Constitution Hall. Prior to this, Honorary President General Lynn Forney Young oversaw the restoration of Constitution Hall’s lobby and Honorary President General Merry Ann Wright incorporated the restoration of the DAR Library lay lights into her work. These are only a sample of the recent projects that have helped preserve DAR’s historic headquarters. 

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Through restoring historic properties, funding scholarships and supporting our troops, DAR makes a difference in local communities.