Groundwork at the site of old Marine Hospital, the future home of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, remains suspended after a worker discovered a bone at the site last week, shutting down operations.
The bone was at first thought to be a human remain, but has since been determined not to belong to a person.
David Nathans, director of the museum, said workers were doing cosmetic work to the landscape, which included removing an old derelict garage, all part of initial work to prepare the property for outdoor programs this summer. Work was suspended on March 6 when the bone was first found. An archaeological survey of the property will be done before any new work on the museum site resumes, Mr. Nathans said.
Bettina Washington, tribal historical preservation officer for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), said: “Once we learned there was going to be a soil disturbance, we sent a tribal representative to monitor.” It was during that visit by the tribal cultural resource monitor that the bone was spotted.
On Monday, Mr. Nathans met on the property with Holly Herbstern, a senior archaeologist with the Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc. of Pawtucket. R.I. They discussed having the lab do a comprehensive archaeological survey of the property as part of a permit process with the Massachusetts Historical Commission.
Mr. Nathans said the museum would want the commission’s blessing for the project, “because we are a historical organization. We want to make sure that if anything is there ... it is discovered,” he said.
The Marine Hospital has a rich history going back more than a century, and most recently was the site of the St. Pierre School. The museum purchased the property last year from the St. Pierre family. It sits on a hill that overlooks Lagoon Pond and archaeologically sensitive areas.
Ms. Washington said “it is my understanding that the whole neighborhood is archaeologically sensitive. This is part of Martha’s Vineyard history, and this where the museum will be located. It is good we are doing it at this stage,” she said.