The Jason Lee house at its original location on Northeast Broadway Street before it was moved in 1963 (Willamette Heritage Center archives)
About 2,000 artifacts were discovered during a recent archaeological dig at the former home site of Jason Lee, one of the first missionaries in Oregon.
The findings found at 990 Broadway St. N.E. included nails, bricks, ceramics, a child’s marble, pre-Civil War bottles and a Native American bead, according to Kimberli Fitzgerald, archaeologist for the city of Salem.
Fitzgerald is storing the objects at a laboratory, where they are being examined, interpreted and catalogued.
Eventually, some of the finds will go on display at the Jason Lee House that was moved to the Willamette Heritage Center in 1965.
Others will be placed in a new multi-use building to be constructed at the Broadway location. Property owners Luke Glaze and Charles Weathers were delighted to have the site investigated before construction, Fitzgerald said.
Still other finds will go on exhibit at the Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center in Grand Ronde.
Part of this project involves “trying to decolonize the history around that initial missionary contact period and tell a more balanced story than has been told up to now about Lee and the early missionaries,” she said.
“Early settlers were really helped by local tribes who had lived in the area for thousands of years and knew best where to fish and how to thrive in the Willamette Valley,” Fitzgerald said.
The archaeological investigation began earlier this year and concluded in early May.
Twenty-five volunteers clocked 600 hours digging and sifting through 12 test units, where Lee lived beginning in 1841. He and others also built a granary, saw and grist mills and the Indian Manual Training School.
After Lee left Salem, several other people lived in the house and expanded it.
Fitzgerald said the archaeological project was made possible by The city Community Development Department, Stantec, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Willamette University, the Willamette Heritage Center (formerly Mission Mill Museum), the Oregon Archaeological Society and the Oregon Heritage/State Historic Preservation Office.
The Jason Lee house built in 1841 on Northeast Broadway Street across from Boone's Treasury had several additions over the years.(Willamette Heritage Center archives)
Moving day for the Jason Lee house in 1963, when it was put in a temporary location on Northeast Front Street. The house was then moved in 1965 to its current location at what is now called the Willamette Heritage Center, formerly the Mission Mill Museum. (Willamette Heritage Center archives)
The additions to the Jason Lee house were torn off before being moved from its original location on Northeast Broadway.(Willamette Heritage Center archives)
The Jason Lee house at the Willamette Heritage Center. (Ron Cooper photo)
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