Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
Reconstruction Archaeology at the Silvas-McCoy Site

A paper presented at the 1997 Annual Meeting of the Society for California Archaeology, Santa Rosa
Prepared by:
David L. Felton and Regina M. George
California Department of Parks and Recreation
2505 Port Street - West Sacramento, CA 95691


State Park archaeologists excavated in Old Town San Diego in 1995 to recover information needed to reconstruct a large residence built in 1869 by James McCoy, a well-to-do Irish immigrant who served as San Diegos sheriff and state senator.

Field work also exposed foundations of earlier adobe buildings and artifacts dating to the 1830s-40s. Although early ownership is unclear, prior to 1851 the property belonged to Maria Eugenia Silvas, descendant of a Spanish Colonial soldier who came to Alta California in the 1770s. The presence of archaeological resources representing 2 distinct periods and communities has precipitated a public controversy regarding the appropriateness of reconstructing the McCoy House, rather than earlier buildings associated with Mexican-Californio occupants. We describe results of archaeological work and discuss some of the issues involved in the controversy.

Silvas-McCoy Site

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