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The Smithsonian Institution is planning improvements to the old Patent Office Building, including construction of an auditorium under the courtyard. To assess the potential for archeological resources in the courtyard, the Smithsonian Institution sponsored a Phase I documentary study conducted by John Mimer Associates, Inc. (JMA), in June and July 2002. This project is being done in accordance with the Smithsonian’s own historic preservation policy, which calls for the identification, evaluation and treatment of significant archeological resources that may be affected by the project. The project area is located in the northwest section of Washington, D.C., in Reservation 8, in the block bound by Seventh, Ninth, F, and G Streets, NW. This is within the Coastal Plain physiographic province. The area of potential effect is the open courtyard that is bounded by the four wings of the Patent Office.
The JMA project team reviewed primary and secondary sources and maps and photographs; developed prehistoric and historic contexts and a sequence of events likely to have deposited archeological remains in the courtyard; and assessed the potential for significant preserved resources. The JMA team concluded that it is unlikely that significant archeological resources are preserved in the courtyard. Thus, no archeological excavation is recommended. However, JMA recommends that the Smithsonian Institution establish a plan to address unanticipated discoveries.