Thursday, June 4, 2015

Evidence of a Fire at Puddle Dock

The Yeaton-Walsh House, around which we will be excavating this summer, sits on a small urban lot. The width of the property is only a few feet wider than the house itself!  The proximity of Yeaton-Walsh to its neighbor to the west put it in a dangerous situation in the late 19th century.

On the 1887 Sanborn Insurance map, the house at 11 Atkinson is labeled an “Old” dwelling house. In 1892, the Sanborn map indicates only the footprint of the former house, now labeled “Ruins of Fire.”  Evidently, a there was a fire in the neighborhood in the late 1880s or in the 1890s.

Our carpenters have recently started preparing Yeaton-Walsh for its rehabilitation, and noticed some charred lathe after removing damaged plaster from the wall in the first floor west room.  It looks like the fire at 11 Atkinson caused some interior damage to its neighbor. 

The first phase of excavations at Yeaton-Walsh in 2007 included some test units on the west side of the Yeaton-Walsh house. Burned artifacts were recovered from these units, providing further evidence of a fire.  We may be able to find other artifacts during the excavations this summer that could help us date the event of the fire more precisely. 

In the early 20th century, a new 2 ½ story structure was erected in the same location, appearing on the 1939 Sanborn map, although it was later torn down.  No doubt we will find evidence of this 20th century occupation of the block during our excavations as well.

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