Human remains were found in a Q Street basement in Georgetown on Feb. 4.
The discovery may have surprised a few. But many Georgetowners, especially those who live on the 3300 block of Q, know that this place still has history to reveal.
In the case of the Q Street homes, which stand across from Volta Park — the Old Presbyterian Burying Ground in the 1800s — the dirt under their yards or at their foundations has been known to yield human skeletons.
Last week, workmen at 3317 Q St. NW found four skeletons, according to residents and Joe Gibbons of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, in whose district the bones were uncovered.
When that happens, the D.C. police are called, crime-scene tape goes up and the medical examiner’s office makes an appearance. Next to arrive is City Archaeologist Ruth Trocolli of D.C.’s Historic Preservation Office.
Trocolli told The Georgetowner that the remains appear to be from the 1830s, but a forensic investigation is ongoing.
The team renovating the old wooden house — Prinar Development LLC and Christian Zapatka Architect, PLLC — called a halt to the work of putting in new stairs on the ground level so Trocolli and her assistants could measure the space. The partially finished basement has exposed dirt in the back. (The homeowner donated the bones to the Historic Preservation Office.)
The discovery has additional significance because the home’s property backs up to property on Dent Place once owned and built upon by Yarrow Mamout, who arrived in America enslaved but was later freed and became a successful Georgetown businessman.
The Q Street house — where a tombstone was found on the roof 60 years ago — will eventually be refitted for the 21st century.
Still, the past is not far away. As Gibbons remarked, “There’s history right beneath our feet.”