Friends of Happy Retreat (FOHR) has received an $11,000 grant from the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to undertake a detailed archaeological survey of the Happy Retreat property. When FOHR was first organized in 2006, we realized that before we could make any plans for the future use of the property we would first need to understand its archaeology so that any archaeologically significant sites could be protected. We asked Dr. Charles Hulse, Professor of Anthropology at Shepherd University, to outline how to go about that. Dr. Hulse proposed a seven step plan.
In 2007, we completed the first step of the plan, which was a reconnaissance survey and walkover of the entire 12.3 acre property to locate surface features such as foundations, artifact clusters and anomalies in the natural landscape. Based on this survey, Dr. Hulse prepared a report showing, among other things, the location of what is believed to have been slave quarters and the original location of the octagonal building now located at the rear of the yard. The report also identified a roughly four acre portion of the property with the highest potential archaeological significance.
The SHPO grant will allow us to complete four more steps of the original plan: (1) prepare an archaeological map of the entire 12.3 acre property; (2) complete detailed shovel testing of the four acres previously identified as most worthy of further study; (3) curate any artifacts found; and (4) prepare a final report on the work completed. Work will begin this summer. We will schedule an archaeological “open house” for members of the public and students to observe the work underway