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Dig to look for traces of original Boston Latin School

Boston's Old City Hall. Patricia McDonnell/Globe Photo/file

The former site of the 17th century Boston Latin School and its schoolmaster’s house is set to undergo a four-week archeological dig Tuesday, Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s office said.

Volunteer teams, led by Joseph Bagley, City of Boston archeologist, will excavate 10 test trenches to find the old foundation and yard of the school at the site, which is in the courtyard in front of the Old City Hall building, Walsh’s office said in a statement.

“It is an exciting moment for the City of Boston to potentially unveil an important part of Boston’s history and a piece of the Freedom Trail,” Walsh said in a statement.


The courtyard and businesses located inside the building will remain open during the dig, officials said.

Boston Latin School was founded in 1635 and is the oldest public school in America.

“What we are really hoping to find is their privy, or outhouse, which would have been where most, if not all, of their household garbage and human waste would have been disposed in,” Bagley said in a statement.

He said the “outhouse would be a treasure-trove of historic data. Finding an intact 17th century privy would be the ultimate goal.”

The dig was first proposed by Sean McDonnell, president of the Architectural Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit organization.

“We are thrilled to have found someone as enthusiastic about Old City Hall’s courtyard and so able to uncover and tell the story of what else may have happened on the site,” McDonnell said in the statement. “Everyone in the building takes ownership of Old City Hall’s place in Boston’s history — I think Joe’s work will only add to the building and site’s lustre.”

The dig will be staffed by volunteers from the City of Boston Archaeology Program, part of the Boston Landmarks Commission. Students and alumni from Boston Latin are also volunteering in the project, officials said.


The public is encouraged to visit the dig on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine.

Rebecca Fiore can be reached at rebecca.fiore@globe.com.