WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — College students have always had a taste for beer, and archeologists have uncovered new evidence at the College of William and Mary to prove it.
The remains of what is likely an 18th-century on-campus brewery were found near the nation’s oldest college building when campus officials were looking to widen a sidewalk. School officials say the discovery near the Wren Building tells a broader story about campus life in the Colonial era.
Records have long indicated that the college had slaves who grew hops on a nearby plantation and sold the crop to the school. It was not always clear, however, exactly where that brewing was taking place after the initial campus building, built between 1695 and 1700, burned down in 1705. Based upon cannon debris found at the site, officials believe the brewery only existed until the Revolutionary War.
After it was gutted by fire, the Wren Building was rebuilt in 1716 and debris from its construction was placed in a large pit near the building site.
Sometime after that — likely in the 1720s — archeologists believe the school built a small brewery right next to that trash pit. It would have provided beer for the few dozen students and faculty who were there during the Colonial era.