1876 Japanese Garden Archaeology
In an exciting new history project, Shofuso Japanese House and Garden is conducting an archaeological investigation at the site of the first Japanese garden in North America. This Japanese garden from the 1876 Centennial Exposition is adjacent to the grounds of the current house and garden.
Funded by the William Penn Foundation, archaeologists from AECOM Burlington will be seeking evidence of sculptures, paths, and plant specimens, as well as the location of the foundation stones from the Japanese Bazaar that introduced 19th century visitors to Japanese art and gardening.
“Shofuso’s archaeological dig is the first part of our master planning process.” said Kim Andrews, Executive Director of the Friends of the Japanese House and Garden. “We are creating a multi-year plan to build a visitors center and restore or recreate that 1876 Japanese garden.”
From the end of July through mid-August, Shofuso, with AECOM Burlington archaeologists, will undertake the investigation of this first Japanese garden through an archaeological survey of the area of the 1876 Centennial garden, located behind Shofuso’s waterfall and accessible from Avenue of the Republic. Additional archival research will be conducted based on the findings of the archaeological survey, photographic records, contemporary written descriptions, maps, and hand-drawn plans available of that garden.
A Public Archaeology Day will be conducted on Saturday, August 1 from 11am to 5pm. Visitors will be able to view the archaeologists at work and ask questions about the project. Shofuso will be documenting the archaeological excavation on their website with still photos and video. Updated descriptions and images will be posted to both Shfosuo and AECOM’s social media. The final report will be made available online.
This project will:
- Inform the development of Shofuso’s master plan, to culminate in the development of a visitors center and an interpretive installation at the site of the 1876 Cetenial Japanese garden.
- Discover a new body of knowledge through research and interpretation of the first Japanese garden in North America
- Support the expanding interpretation of Shofuso as the representation of Japanese culture in Philadelphia from 1876 to present day.
Possible future project for the archaeological survey site include restoring the 1876 Japanese garden to its original appearance and installing an interpretive children’s playground using the discovered garden map as inspiration.
Event: Public Archaeology at Shofuso
Saturday, August 1, 11am-5pm
Archaeologists from AECOM Burlington explain their excavation of the first Japanese garden in North America just behind Shofuso’s waterfall. Shofuso seeks to find its grandfather: the remains of Japan’s exhibition structure and garden from the 1876 Centennial Exposition buried beneath West Fairmount Park. Never before and never again will the opportunity to explore this mystery be available to history and garden buffs.apanese gardens are living collections, and FJHG restored the 1957-58 historic landscape of Japanese designer Tansai Sano in 2012 under the guidance of horticultural consultant and Japanese garden expert Asher Browne.
About the Japanese House
Shofuso Japanese House and Garden is a traditional-style Japanese house and nationally-ranked garden in West Fairmount Park that reflects the history of Japanese culture in Philadelphia, from the 1876 Centennial Exposition to the installation of its contemporary paintings in 2007. Shofuso hosts over 30,000 visitors each year from more than 20 different countries. 10% of our visitors are school groups.