College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Artifacts found as Marston renovation continues

Marston Hall continues its 60,000 square feet renovation, and construction workers have found several unique artifacts during the excavation process.

The first artifact, a plate found under the floor by the dean’s office, is believed to be pottery made prior to 1897 by Alfred Meakin (Ltd.), Royal Albert, Victoria, and Highgate Potteries, Tunstall. The pottery company was founded in 1851 and based out of England.

Several lunch pails were also found and were likely used with the pottery plate. When construction workers would come to the building site, they often brought a lunch pail filled with their lunch, which was topped with a plate similar to the one found underneath the floor of the dean’s office.

Another part of lunch is a drinking cup, which was also found during the Marston renovations. The cup is believed to date back to the Civil War. The cup was found sitting on top of a wine barrel, which is likely to date back to the same time period. Completing the lunch setting was a soup tureen lid, found with the handle broken off.

A lard bucket was also discovered. Although no one is sure why it was used in Marston, lard is a pig fat used as cooking shortening or a spread. Lard is still used in cuisine, albeit not as often as it was during the 19th century.

Another finding was an inkwell that is believed to be an end-of-century form dating back to 1890. It was found under the first floor in Marston Hall. Inkwells were used to hold ink for a writer who was using a brush, quill or dip pen. The reservoir was also used for filling fountain pens.

Kerry Dixon, facilities planning and management, said about the discoveries, “I love working in our historic buildings because we find the most amazing pieces of day-to-day history of the building. It makes you think about how construction has changed. These pieces were part of the day-to-day existence of craftsmen and students over a hundred years ago. It makes me excited to see what else we find.”

Be sure to follow @ISU_CoE to see if any artifacts are uncovered in the future.

Ceramic Plate
Ceramic Plate
IMG_0388Drinking Cup

Wine Barrel

IMG_0390Soup Tureen Lid

IMG_0389Lard Bucket