In December 2006, construction work on the corner of Spring and Varick Streets in New York uncovered the skeletal remains of approximately 200 individuals. It was determined that these remains belonged to the individuals buried in the burial vaults associated with the Spring Street Presbyterian Church that originally stood on the site from 1811 until 1966, when it was demolished and a parking lot was paved over the location. Excavations by AKRF Inc. and URS during the winter of 2006-2007 recovered the skeletal remains and a large quantity of mortuary artifacts from the vaults, which were in use from 1820 until 1843.
The skeletal remains were sent to the bioarchaeology laboratory at Syracuse University for further analysis in 2007. Dr. Shannon Novak and her students have continued to study the skeletal collection, and their analysis is ongoing. In particular, Dr. Meredith Ellis studied the remains of the children of Spring Street for her doctoral research. In 2011 the artifacts joined the skeletal remains in the SU bioarchaeology lab, and soon after archaeologist Katherine Hicks joined the project to study them for her doctoral dissertation project.
The Spring Street Archaeology Project is a collaboration between Syracuse University faculty and students, and external researchers with the goal of studying the skeletal and artifact remains from the Spring Street Presbyterian Church burial vaults in order to understand what life was like for those living in New York City’s diverse 8th Ward during the early 19th century.