Construction in historic Charlottesville can sometimes net unexpected results. Recently, City workers were digging off the downtown mall and came across an odd piece of wood.
Because they took the care to stop and remove the artifact in one piece, we get a glimpse into 19thC water technology. The artifact is part of an old well. The wooden piece is the bouyant part within the well (floating in the water). The accompanying metal pieces secure the wood within the well and allow it to open and close the opening to the well. Because we know the provenience of the artifact, the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society was able to research the origins of the well. Below is a map of the find spot, with the well (shown here on a city plan) highlighted in orange.
If you look at the map, you will notice that the well was dug at the corner of Main and Second Street. If that doesn’t sound familiar, try Water Street & 2nd Street (the contemporary street names). This well and many others like it explain the origin for the name “Water Street.”