Unraveling the story of Warren G. Harding


This past summer the Ohio History Connection contracted with Professional Archaeological Services Team (PAST) to excavate a 42 square meter area of the Harding Home, to locate the foundation of the former kitchen. I am delighted to say that the foundation was discovered and so much more. From May 5th to June 6th PAST excavated along the north face of the house, which skirted the existing kitchen, the previous back porch and the back of the main house. Over 20,000 artifacts were found containing mostly architecture items, 1,269 of those objects were recovered with many of them dating to the time of the Hardings occupancy. Three particular artifact areas caught my attention in the report. The first was the ceramic assemblage which included sherds from the Harding dinnerware. Craig Keener, primary investigator, and his team used the assemblage to find the Harding familys economic status. To no great surprise the Hardings lived within the upper class, but purchased their wares from the Sears, Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs.   Another area of interest was the glass pane data that supported the construction of the home in 1881, the remodel of 1920 and the 1965 Harding Memorial Association remodel. By analyzing the information, PAST was not only able to support construction dates, but also provide information on the location of possible windows and doors along the rear of the house. Few pictures exist of the back of the house that are clear enough to see details, so finding glass concentrations has helped fill in some of the blanks.   One last area that intrigued me was the discovery of toys. Clay and glass marbles, along with a single six-sided ivory die dates before the 1920 remodel. The couple did not have any children together, but Mrs. Harding had a son that never resided at the house. The use of marbles and dice were not toys of only children but also the young at heart. It is possible that the Hardings entertained on the back porch and games were a fun pastime. I like to envision the Hardings drinking lemonade on the porch as they play The Landlords Game (eventually becoming Monopoly) with friends. The excavation at Harding Home revealed a lot of information about our 29th president, but there is still more to learn. Most of the activity around the house stayed within the front yard and this area has yet to be studied. This is only the beginning of the real story of the Hardings and I cannot wait to read future chapters.       Kellie Locke-Rogers

Posted December 19, 2014
Topics: Archaeology

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