College students discovering a drinking establishment isn’t anything new. But this one isn’t your everyday bar.

Last year at the ruins of Brunswick Town, North Carolina — a once-thriving colonial port burned by British soldiers in 1776 and never rebuilt — East Carolina University doctoral student Matt Harrup found the remains of a tavern no one knew about.

Equipped with ground-penetrating radar, Harrup had unveiled a tavern – some speculate it could also have served as a brothel – measuring roughly 400 square feet and buried under 5 feet of leaves and soil. It was on a spot of land that should have been empty, according to historic maps of the town.

Now, following a monthlong excavation by ECU students on a summer field class, experts say the building probably burned down years before Brunswick Town proper, its walls caving in to seal and preserve untouched artifacts from colonial America.

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Originally publisehd July 2, 2019.