Under the land between two apartment buildings, Bruring's shovel struck the limestone foundation of a home nearly as old as the Civil War.
Bruring's real estate investment quickly became a real-life history lesson after the 1985 discovery, sending Bruring on a journey through records tracking back to
Bruring will unveil refurbished signs today in a dedication ceremony. The repaired placards -- removed years ago after falling into disrepair -- tell a tale almost as old as the city itself.
"People will find out that the history is there," Bruring said.
Bruring made some of the most recent updates to the two buildings, installing insulation, new windows, new kitchens, new bathrooms and plumbing and electric wiring to meet modern standards.
He and his wife bought the property in the early 1980s.
"We began to do some investing in land and in property such as this," Bruring said.
Bruring later sold the site, but not before unearthing its history. Literally.
A stone's throw from downtown,
Hidden under the lot is the foundation of a 19th century home. The home belonged to
Theler was director the Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center when Bruring's shovel first struck limestone in 1985. Center archaeologists dug around the site after Bruring's discovery and uncovered artifacts such as the bones of a passenger pigeon, an extinct species.
"We had a huge roost in western
Cole's home was ripped off its foundations and moved in 1903, but the oldest structure on the site is still standing. A wing of
"They've all been redone," Franzini said.
The corner building,
Bruring wants the signs to remind people about
Because of Bruring's concern for local history and because of the care that was taken in the 1985 dig, archaeologists could revisit the site any time in the future to further explore the foundations of the old Cole house, Theler said.
Many of the city's oldest buildings have been razed, damaged beyond repair and removed completely, Theler said.
"Every sort of generation, I'll say, has the responsibility to care for them during their life," Franzini said. "If everybody does that these buildings should be around for another 100 years."
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