Public Archaeology at Shofuso!

August 1, 2015 @ 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
Lansdowne Drive & Horticultural Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19131

Free and open to the public! Archaeologists from AECOM Burlington explain their excavation of the first Japanese garden in North America just behind Shofuso’s waterfall. Shofuso seeks to find its grandfather: the remains of Japan’s exhibition structure and 1876CentennialJapaneseDwellingStereoviewgarden from the 1876 Centennial Exposition buried beneath West Fairmount Park.  Never before and never again will the opportunity to explore this mystery be available to history and garden buffs.

From the end of July through mid-August, Shofuso, with AECOM Burlington archaeologists, will undertake the investigation of this first Japanese garden through an archaeological survey of the area of the 1876 Centennial garden, located behind Shofuso’s waterfall and accessible from Avenue of the Republic. Additional archival research will be conducted based on the findings of the archaeological survey, photographic records, contemporary written descriptions, maps, and hand-drawn plans available of that garden.

A Public Archaeology Day will be conducted on Saturday, August 1 from 11am to 5pm. Visitors will be able to view the archaeologists at work and ask questions about the project. Shofuso will be documenting the archaeological excavation on their website with still photos and video. Updated descriptions and images will be posted to both Shfosuo and AECOM’s social media. The final report will be made available online.

This project will:

  • Inform the development of Shofuso’s master plan, to culminate in the development of a visitors center and an interpretive installation at the site of the 1876 Cetenial Japanese garden.
  • Discover a new body of knowledge through research and interpretation of the first Japanese garden in North America
  • Support the expanding interpretation of Shofuso as the representation of Japanese culture in Philadelphia from 1876 to present day.

Possible future project for the archaeological survey site include restoring the 1876 Japanese garden to its original appearance and installing an interpretive children’s playground using the discovered garden map as inspiration.