Archaeological dig happening in the middle of Saint Paul

11:42 PM, Nov 12, 2009   |    comments
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SAINT PAUL -- Built in 1900, an old church once stood here at the corner of Englewood and Asbury in Saint Paul, but burned down Christmas night in 1925.  United Methodist stands now, but the old church's foundation was untouched.

"The original church was right here," said Brian Hoffman, Professor.

Now, a small number of students can participate in an archaeological study at Hamline University, Minnesota's oldest University. 

"They're all enthusiastic students and enjoying this opportunity to dig Hamline history."

This outdoor classroom involves excavating the church's remains.

"Fabulous course," said Rachelle Gordon, a senior at Hamline.  "It's so great, it's like an awesome treasure hunt."

"We're finding glass, nails and remnants of the old church," said Hoffman. 

"Pictures and photographs only do so much, it takes digging to find things that aren't documented," said Shakira Jones, a senior at Hamline.

Professor Brian Hoffman instructs his students.

"Even when we're digging, we're asking ourselves questions about what we're finding," said Hoffman. 

But these students are not archaeological students.  In fact, far from it. 

"We're trying to open archaeological up and to get more people participating, and get more voices," said Hoffman.

From an education major, legal studies, to political science, these students are passionate about their findings.  They dig and sift through the dirt Tuesdays and Thursdays for three hours.

"It's a hands-on, interactive course," said Popp. 

"You get to see things no one else has seen since 1920," said Jones. 

But they're on a bit of a deadline.

"That's always the challenge doing archaeology in Minnesota, we can get shut down with an early winter storm," said Hoffman.

Whether they finish or not, it's the lasting memory that will mean the most.

"You walk by this site everyday, and you have no idea all this is laying down underneath it."

(Copyright 2009 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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