I would hazard a guess that even if you have never gotten a Noramel or a philly cheese steak from Neon Deli, you still probably know where it is on campus. However, did you know that Neon Deli actually sits on the point of a geographic area called the Beman Triangle? More importantly, do you know what the Beman Triangle is or its importance to Middletown and Wesleyan? Beginning in 2002, the Beman Triangle became a site of renewed interest and now it is a fixture in our service-learning courses, taught by Sarah Croucher. Here is an excerpt from the 2012 course description:
On the triangle of land between Vine Street, Cross Street, and Knowles Avenue (known as the Beman Triangle), a community of African Americans began to build houses from the mid-19th century on land owned by one of their community, Leveret Beman. Although few above-ground traces now suggest the presence of this community, material about their lives survives in the record of their trash and other archaeological features that remain beneath the backyards of the houses on this land.
Through these service-learning courses, students work alongside community members to excavate everyday items from the Beman Triangle as well as obtain oral histories from the site. Check out their video below for an in-depth look at their experiences!
So hopefully, the next time you are on your way to the gym, or getting a snack at our local deli, you will remember this incredible project that has brought Wesleyan and Middletown together to excavate an important part of history. Learn more about this project here.