Heinlenville was one of six San José Chinatowns. Archaeologists from the Anthropological Studies Center, Sonoma State University and local San José historians are working with the Redevelopment Agency, City of San José to unearth selected areas of Heinlenville and early Japantown. The test excavation took place from the 11th to 17th March 2008, and data recovery excavation was conducted from the 14th to 23rd of April 2009. Work continues now back at the ASC lab, as we process artifacts and soil samples recovered from the site.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Day 1: Heinlenville Excavation

We arrived at the Heinlenville-Nihonmachi site on Tuesday morning. Previously, we had used historic maps to find out where Heinlenville’s streets, alleys, and buildings had once been located, and to select areas we wanted to test. Six test locations had been selected; a store, a restaurant, some backyard areas, and the location of the Ng Shing Gung temple.

When we arrived on site, the whole area was covered in asphalt.
Using our historic maps, we marked out the locations of the historic streets and property corners. Our backhoe driver, Ryan, pulled up the asphalt covering our test locations, and then scraped away the layers of gravel fill in order to reach the historic ground surface. We knew when we reached this surface from changes in the color and texture of the soil. Soon we were able to see remnants of the foundations of the buildings that once stood on the site. We uncovered brick foundations of the store of Young Soong Quong, and found fragments of porcelain bowls and other artifacts.

Sandra Massey,
ASC Archaeologist