Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Ephraim Sprague House, 1705-1750

I should be so lucky! These scoundrels, doing perfectly ordinary highway department archaeology just like I do, stumbled across one of the best possible archaeological finds: a house that burned down while it was still full of stuff, and then was left alone. The house, near Andover, Connecticut, burned around 1755.

The house belonged to Ephraim Sprague, who moved from Duxbury, Massachusetts to the Connecticut frontier in 1705. He was a minor gentleman, with servants and some nice stuff but not really of the elite. So his house was full of wonderfully ordinary things. Like, their root cellar burned while it was still full of potatoes, oats, corn, hickory nuts, and other things to eat.

My favorite item, of the many great things illustrated on their web site, is this white salt-glazed stoneware tea set, probably made around 1750. Note that although the tea set was destroyed by fire while still in use, and then buried in the bottom of a cellar, which was 100 percent excavated, there are still missing pieces. In my experience, there are always missing pieces; I have never found all the pieces of any broken ceramic vessel.

The house was one room deep but very long, probably a "cross passage" house of the type common in 17th-century England. It's an amazing find, and the web site is quite good, but I find myself longing for more detail and hope they publish a book.

1 comment:

Meg Harper said...

Well, we here at AHS are really glad to see that you like the Sprague house website and understand how amazing a find it was. And yes! We are writing more on this incredible site! Stay tuned...