Last Thursday Fort Frederica National Monument had the dedication of the Archaeology Education Lab building. I mentioned the building being one of the changes at Fort Frederica. The building was a dream come true for Archaeologist Education Volunteer Ellen Provenzano and for Ranger Michael Siebert. When Michael first started working here seven years ago, he and Ellen dreamed of someday having a building especially for archaeology education field trips. This building is the culmination of that dream.
Tom and I had been watching the building project with interest. It is located next to the area where the RVs are, so we could see and hear the work being done every day. One week before the dedication, there was no power or water. Some scrambling and begging ensued and the Georgia Power Company came out and got the building hooked up in one day. It was impressive to see all their big machines rolling into the park. The contractor had several crews working every day for a week to get all the final details done. Our awesome maintenance crew – staff and volunteers – worked overtime getting the building finished and presentable for the dedication.
The dedication was low-key. All of the park staff attended, along with most of the volunteers. Our park superintendent gave a speech, as did Ellen Provenzano and Ranger Michael. Then each of the family members who donated to build the archaeology lab also made a speech. The building was paid for by the three children of Karl Meschke and named in his memory. Karl was an executive at the Mead Paper Company in Brunswick. He was a big supporter of Fort Frederica National Monument and an amateur archaeologist. His children were very proud to be able to donate this building in his memory.
The Archaeology Education Lab is beautiful. It blends in with the surroundings and has tables inside and outside where kids can learn about and do archaeology. Ellen has been very hands-on with this project, ordering furnishings based on her years of teaching experience. All of us enjoyed seeing it and looking at all the items in it on the night of the dedication.
The Archaeology Education Lab is already being used. We had four groups of students from Oglethorpe Point Elementary School here this week using it. Although Ellen was exhausted by the end of the two-day marathon, she was very pleased with how the field trips went. The park finally has the indoor space it needs to host students in year-round archaeology learning. Students will be benefitting from this gift for years to come.