The Happy Hollow: Emergency Salvage Archeology Project in Houston's Historic Red Light District
by Linda Gorski (Texas Archeological Stewardship Network and President, Houston Archeology Society)
The Heritage Society Tea Room
Free for members, $5 for non-members
For three short days at the end of January 2016 Texas Historical Commission Archeological Stewards from Harris County and members of the Houston Archeological Society participated in an emergency salvage archeology shovel testing project at a unique site in downtown Houston, Texas. Owners of the historic Lancaster Hotel were forced to demolish two equally historic adjoining buildings to provide parking spaces for the hotel. The owners of the hotel including Miki Lusk Norton graciously allowed the Texas Historical Commission to examine the site before it was paved over.
These historic buildings in the 500 block of Louisiana Avenue were built in 1907 and replaced earlier structures on the lots that were originally “female boarding houses” – aka brothels. The shovel testing revealed early cisterns, brick and concrete piers that supported the pier and beam building, an historic gulley and a privy. Approximately 1100 artifacts were recovered including many complete bottles that originally contained female medications and tonics providing clues as to what was going on at the site in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and lending credence to the site’s original name – “Happy Hollow”! This presentation will present the history of an early red light district in Houston through artifacts recovered at the site.