Spring semester students, Anissa, Jay, and Rebecca, placed the South Porch unit about a yard in front of the original church entrance in order to see what kinds of activities were represented right outside of the church’s door. Clothing pins, perhaps from fastened dresses and shawls, and fragments of clay smoking pipes are evidence of people socializing outside of the church, literally at its doorstep. A Native American presence at the site, now evident in all units, is represented in this unit by a predominance of lithic (stone) material, such as quartz and fine-grained chert. There are flakes, discarded from stone tool manufacturing, and flakes modified to be stone tools. The relatively few historic artifacts may be a result of recurring construction periods that obscured earlier activities.
Architecturally, the South Porch was constructed in 1762 with buttresses meant to relieve the weight of sagging walls. We found some highly corroded window glass and window lead cames that may relate to the removal of casement window sections on the South Wall of the church when they were replaced by fan-light windows in 1750.
The external stair leading to the gallery level, added in 1774, has had several lives in the South Porch. It is presumed that the original 1774 stair had the same form and general appearance of the existing exterior stair today, but there is no physical evidence of the original stair (though see below for more on this). In 1842, a restoration project demolished the exterior stair, which were replaced in 1899. Related to the existing stair, we discovered a cement-like base for one of the stair pillars in the northeast corner of the unit. A bit of the red brick lining the cement peaks out of the footing at the bottom of the unit. We sampled some of the cement to better understand its components and time period, which is linked to the last reincarnation of the external stair.
Feature 21 may relate to an earlier, as of yet undocumented, history of the stair. In July, we discovered a mottled level seen in the western third of the North Profile wall. At first, the mixture of yellow and dark brown soils looked very similar to the grave shafts at the North and South Buttress units, but the GPR map did not identify any shafts oriented north/south. According to the map, there are three potential grave shafts oriented west/east just to the west of our unit in the South Porch. After bisecting the feature, we recognized a post hole/mold (~10 inches) that had been disturbed by rodent activity. The post was about a yard away from the double-door entrance, just off of being centered. The current interpretation places the large post as part of an earlier external stairway construction, perhaps the original 1774 construction.