Public Archeology Laboratory

DIGGING UP THE PAST: Deborah Cox, president of Public Archaeology Laboratory, in 2007 with some artifacts recovered from a worksite. / PBN FILE PHOTO
DIGGING UP THE PAST: Deborah Cox, president of Public Archaeology Laboratory, in 2007 with some artifacts recovered from a worksite. / PBN FILE PHOTO

(published Dec. 1, 2007)
YEAR ESTABLISHED: 1982
TYPE OF BUSINESS: A private nonprofit organization specializing in terrestrial and marine archaeology, historical research, and documentation and preservation planning


THEN:
PRESIDENT: Deborah Cox
LOCATION: Lonsdale Avenue, Pawtucket
EMPLOYEES: 47
ANNUAL SALES: $3.8 million


NOW:
PRESIDENT: Deborah Cox
LOCATION: 26 Main St., Pawtucket
EMPLOYEES: 63
ANNUAL SALES: $6 million

After outgrowing two locations on Lonsdale Avenue, Public Archeology Laboratory now works out of an ideal setting, said President Deborah Cox: a historic building that the nonprofit purchased and rehabilitated.

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In 2011, with the support of the city of Pawtucket, PAL acquired the former To Kalon Club on Main Street, built in 1911 as a prominent men’s social club. The restoration was recognized with a 2013 Rhody Historic Preservation Award and attracted widespread public attention, Cox said, with over 600 people visiting the building when it was opened to the public for a day in 2019.

PAL helps clients comply with state and federal historic preservation standards, which are in place to ensure that projects aren’t harming cultural resources such as historic buildings or archeological sites. Clients range from corporations to state and federal agencies that request assistance for projects such as mill redevelopment or offshore wind farms.

The organization has increased its staffing and sales as the demand for these services continues to rise, according to Cox.

Current projects include archeological investigations into Manton Farm, which was for three generations owned by a family of color in Little Compton beginning in the 1800s; and Snowtown, a predominantly Black neighborhood in Providence that white rioters targeted in the first half of the 1800s, and which was eventually overtaken by urban development.

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