|Location:||Monticello, Charlottesville, VA, United States|
|Occupation Dates:||Late 18th Century to Early 19th Century|
|Excavator(s):||Dr. Oriol Pi-Sunyer, Dr. William Kelso, and Dr. Susan Kern|
|Dates excavated:||1957, 1979-1984, and 1994|
The 1809 Stone House site is named for a masonry dwelling that documents reveal was completed in 1809. It succeeded an earlier log structure which Jefferson identified as Building n, a washhouse, on the 1796 Mutual Assurance plat. Following the sale of Monticello after Jefferson’s death, the new owner, Uriah P. Levy, used the Stone House as a burial site for his mother in 1839. To this day, the tomb and headstone of Rachel Levy remain at this location (Urofsky 2001:197). The grave marker serves as the major visible reminder of the family that owned Monticello for nine decades (Urofsky 2001:193).
The site was first excavated by Dr. Oriol Pi-Sunyer in 1957. In 1973, the stonework was dismantled and rebuilt for structural reasons. During parts of the 1979, 1980, 1982, and 1984 field seasons, Dr. William Kelso conducted excavations both inside the structure and in the exterior area directly to the east. An additional excavation unit to the northeast of the stone foundation was excavated in 1994 under the direction of Dr. Susan Kern in order to investigate the original Mulberry Row tree plantings.
While the construction date of Building n is unknown, the earliest known documentation of the structure is found in Jefferson’s 1796 Mutual Assurance Declaration (Jefferson: N133), where he described it as:
“n. a wash house 16 1/2 f. square of wood, the chimney also wood, the floor earth. From n. it is 38. f. to [o]”
There is a possible reference to its construction in a Jefferson memorandum for Nicholas Lewis dated to November 1790, where he instructed:
“A wash house 16. feet square to be built and placed where I pointed out to George” (Boyd et al, 1971: 29).
The similarity of the dimensions mentioned in 1790 and 1796 indicate that they refer to the same building. There are no further references to this building until October 1808, when it may have been mentioned in correspondence between Jefferson and his overseer Edmund Bacon. On October 17, Jefferson wrote from Washington:
“I expect mr Madox is now about the stable, & the house laid off where an old loghouse stands…” (T.J. to E.B. 1808 Oct 17)
to which Bacon replied:
“we are going on with Leaveling the garden also getting stone for the houses to be built” (E.B. to T.J. 1808 Oct 21).
On November 17, Bacon wrote that the stone mason, Mr. Sammons, had not yet begun work due to the weather, but hoped to the following Monday (E.B. to T. J. 1808 Nov 17). As of December 6 of that year, a letter from Jefferson implied that the construction across from the “Outchamber”-another term used for the South Pavilion (Jefferson: N133)-had not yet been completed, and he implored his overseer to get it done (T.J. to E.B. 1808 Dec 6). On January 12, 1809, Bacon wrote that the stone house was in progress and asked what kind of roof should be put on (on the bottom of this letter, Jefferson made a notation that the “roof of stone house 167.25,” (E.B. to T.J. 1809 Jan 12), suggesting a possible cost). In February, James Dinsmore also wrote to ask about the roof as …
“it will make some difference in carrying up the shaft of the chimney” (J.D. to T.J. 1809 Feb 24).
to which Jefferson specified:
“the roof to be hipped every way” (T.J. to J.D. 1809 Feb 27).
Sometime during 1809, the new stone house was presumably completed, as a structure appeared opposite the South Pavilion on the 1809 survey of the mountaintop which included Mulberry Row (Jefferson: N225). In comparison, a previous plat from 1806 depicted the South Pavilion, but did not show a stone structure opposite it (Jefferson: N204).
Jefferson sometimes used buildings along Mulberry Row as points of reference. Between 1809 and 1817, Jefferson often referred to the “stone house” in his Garden Book, but it is unclear whether he meant the 1809 stone house, completed around the same time that his terraced vegetable garden was expanded (E.B. to T.J. 1808 Oct 21), or Building E, a surviving masonry structure also known as the Weaver’s Cottage or Workmens House.
Excavation history, procedure and methods
In 1957, Oriol Pi-Sunyer excavated two parallel trenches along Mulberry Row to locate Jefferson-era structural remains. He selected the 1809 Stone House as the eastern limit of the season’s excavations (Pi-Sunyer 1957: 17). He noted that he was unable to dig within the structure due to the location of the burial (Pi-Sunyer 1957: 17). Instead he dug trenches along the exteriors of the east and west walls, refraining from doing the same along the north and south ones due to structural flaws. He excavated to subsoil (Pi-Sunyer 1957: 7) and did not screen for artifacts. Because of the lack of stratigraphic contexts, the artifact data from these excavations were not included in the Mulberry Row Reassessment Project.
William Kelso directed the majority of excavations at the 1809 Stone House. In 1979, he opened two excavation units to the southeast of the structure as part of a larger project to identify fence lines that separated the buildings on Mulberry Row from the terraced garden to the south. These units measured 10-by-4 feet each, one of them intercepting the end of the trench Pi-Sunyer dug along the eastern wall. In 1980, a single 14.75-by-3.0 foot unit was excavated along the interior west wall of the structure to look for a Jefferson-period garden entrance thought to be in the area. This was the same spot where a trench was dug in the 1970s to repair the stone foundation and install a concrete footing.
In 1982, Kelso dug six units east of the 1809 Stone House. These were originally undertaken as part of the excavations of Building o and were later reassigned to the 1809 Stone House project as part of the Mulberry Row Reassessment. These units varied in size and were arranged in two columns separated by a 2-foot baulk, overlapping with the eastern trench dug by Pi-Sunyer.
Kelso did not return to the 1809 Stone House until 1984, when he placed four additional excavation units inside the Stone House structure. These units varied in size: two 8-by-5 foot units, one 5-by-5 foot unit, and one 5-by-4 foot unit. In addition, he removed a 5-by-1 foot baulk between two of the units.
In 1994, Susan Kern led excavations searching for the planting holes for the original mulberry trees that lined Mulberry Row. She placed one unit to the northeast of the Stone House, directly north of the original Pi-Sunyer trench.
Summary of research and analysis
At the 1809 Stone House, Pi-Sunyer focused on an architectural analysis of the exterior stone walls. He measured the building to be approximately 21-by-18 feet (Pi-Sunyer 1957: 17) with a central entrance facing Mulberry Row (Pi-Sunyer 1957: 18). He noted that these measurements were not exact, due to the extensive vegetation that could not be removed from the walls (Pi-Sunyer 1957: 18). During the excavations on the exterior of the east and west walls he discovered that the mortar used on the above-ground stonework was different than that below surface-level. The mortar between stonework visible above the surface was applied much more heavily, and Pi-Sunyer suggested this was evidence that the standing walls were re-erected at some point following the building’s original construction (Pi-Sunyer 1957: 18-19) and that the walls may have been taken down around the time of the 1839 burial of Rachel Levy.
Pi-Sunyer noted that most of the artifacts recovered consisted of metal, and that glass and ceramics occurred in lesser amounts. He identified enough of the artifacts as Jefferson-period to suggest that this building was one of the original houses along Mulberry Row.
Although there is no analysis or write-up associated with work undertaken in 1982, the context records completed at the time of excavation (originally associated with the Building o project) reveal that investigators were looking in the area just to the east of the standing Stone House for evidence of Building n, the washhouse that originally appeared in Jefferson’s documents. Features include at least one posthole (F09) containing several stones, which could possibly be part of a fence line pre-dating the 1809 fence line to which the postholes on the southern end of the excavation area were thought to belong. There was also a variety of other features, including several postholes, a concentration of sandy orange mortar as well as an alignment of stones and greenish-grey mortar oriented east-west, suggesting a possible earlier building foundation. It will be imperative to conduct additional analysis of excavation reports and recovered artifacts to determine any possible uses for this area.
Kelso also mentioned that that there was a lack of mortar and stone rubble near the three walls that did not include the chimney and theorized that the structure of the building above the window sills was made of wood. He noted
“…the ruin suggested that there was a central door on the Mulberry Row side. The near central fireplace suggests that the structure had only one room, and the hipped roof eliminates the possibility of living space in the loft,” (Kelso 1997: 61-62).
Based on the classification of artifacts recovered as domestic, he interpreted the 1809 Stone House as a slave dwelling (Kelso 1997: 61). Kelso also hypothesized that its construction was in line with Jefferson’s desires to “upgrade Mulberry Row” with “more aesthetic replacements,” (Kelso 1997: 44,46).
Further analysis of the excavation records and artifacts conducted under the Mulberry Row Reassessment suggest the existence of a previously unrecognized structure that has been given the designation “Mulberry Row Structure 5” or “MRS-5”. This potential structure is comprised of the stone and mortar concentration that Kelso and his team uncovered to the east of the 1809 Stone House. Multiple kinds of stone with at least two different kinds of mortar form a dense concentration on the same stratigraphic level and with what appears to be a straight edge running parallel to Mulberry Row. The unit to the northeast, excavated by Sue Kern in 1994, may have a corner of the stone paving of MRS-5, however, evidence is not clear enough to determine whether or not it belongs to the structure.
One issue with the identification of MRS-5 as a structure is that, although the apparent edge is straight and aligned with Mulberry Row, MRS-5 extends a little farther north towards the road area than any other known Jefferson-period structure. Further excavation may provide answers. ER 545, a unit in which the stone and mortar concentration was expected to extend, was not excavated to the depth of the stone. The area directly to the north of the stone concentration remains unexcavated, as do the 2-foot baulks (presumably undisturbed) that run through the middle and to the east of the structure.
Phasing of the site (see the section titled ‘Chronology‘) suggests three postholes located on the northernmost edges of ER 181 and ER 185 are remnants of the earliest known fence line, referred to as the 1796 fence line. The construction of this fence is not actually documented, but is referenced in the 1796 plat in that the buildings are “shortly to be connected by a row of paling,” (Jefferson:N133). Although the date of construction is not confirmed, it is possible that when the paling fence was erected, it prevented the erosion and subsequent movement and deposition downhill of the later phases of material goods into the southernmost units, keeping the earliest phase close to the ground surface.
MRS-5 seems to be earlier than the 1809 Stone House on the basis of stratigraphic and ceramic evidence. Deposits that could be unambiguously connected with the Wash House, or Building n as referenced on the 1796 plat, were never identified in the field or in subsequent re-analysis.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation
Things you need to know about Building n (Wash House) & the 1809 Stone House before you use the data:
- Measurements are in feet and tenths of feet.
- Pi-Sunyer did not use screens for artifact recovery. Kelso did not use screens for artifact recovery, but carefully hand-troweled the site. Kern used 1/4-inch mesh screens for artifact recovery.
- Pi-Sunyer used a parallel and cross-trench method, digging two long 2-foot wide trenches running parallel to Mulberry Row with short, perpendicular cross-trenches that intersected the long trenches at varying intervals. His trenches were backfilled and in many cases later identified and reexcavated by Kelso. The artifacts Pi-Sunyer recovered are not cataloged with the project at this time.
- Kelso primarily used the Wheeler-box excavation method where 8-by-8 foot quadrats were excavated within a 10-by-10 foot grid, leaving 2-foot balks standing to reveal site stratigraphy. Balks were subsequently excavated as 2-by-8 foot or 2-by-6 foot units. Kelso’s initial excavations across the area were done in 10-by-4 foot quadrats aimed at uncovering the remains of an 1809 paling fence that separated Mulberry Row from the Jefferson family vegetable garden. Quadrats inside the masonry walls of the 1809 Stone House are of variable dimensions presumably because of the spatial contraints of working withing the foundation.
- In the DAACS database, the 1809 Stone House project, which includes Building n and the 1809 Stone House, is designated as Project “112”. Artifact ID numbers for artifacts associated with the project therefore begin with the 112 prefix.
The original excavators of the Building n site did not assign numbers to individual features. DAACS staff has assigned feature numbers using the original excavation records. Feature Numbers assigned by DAACS have a F-prefix, which precedes the number (i.e. F01 equals Feature 1).
Excavated contexts that belong to the same depositional basin (e.g. a posthole and postmold or the layers in a single pit) have been assigned a single feature number. In addition, single contexts have been given feature numbers when the original field records indicate that the excavators recognized a context’s spatial distinctiveness from surrounding contexts.
Feature groups are sets of features whose spatial arrangements indicate they were part of a single structure (e.g. structural post holes, sub-floor pits, and hearth) or landscape element (e.g. post holes that comprise a fence line). Feature Groups assigned by DAACS have a FG-prefix, which precedes the number (i.e. FG01 equals Feature Group 1).
For the 1809 Stone House, three feature groups were assigned. FG01 consists of the physical remains of the 1809 Stone House, including the walls (which were not excavated), the chimney hearth (not excavated) and a builder’s trench. FG02 is comprised of two post holes and molds that are possibly part of the 1796 fence line. It is difficult to determine the exact relationship between these post holes from the original excavation records, but their location and appearance in drawings suggest that they are contemporary. FG03 includes three post holes to the exterior of the Stone House that appear to be stratigraphically below the zone associated with MRS-5. The interpretation for this feature group is undetermined; the spacing between F06 and F07 is approximately four feet, while F08 is spaced farther apart (though another post hole could be underneath the two-foot baulk ). The 4-foot interval appears to be too small to make a fence or structure likely, but interpretation is left open.
|F12||Posthole||624B, 624C, 624D|
|F20||Trench, repair||941A, 941B, 942A, 942B, 960A|
|F23||Burial, human||941J, 942D, 960D, 944D, 266E|
|F25||Posthole||1827N, 1827P, 1827W, 1827X|
We perform a standard set of analyses to infer intra-site chronologies for the sites included in the Archive. Using them, we have assigned most excavated contexts at each site to a set of site-specific phases. The use of common analytical methods is designed to increase comparability among phases at different sites. The methods and the phase assignments they produced are summarized below. For some sites, the original excavators developed intra-site chronologies and, where these exist, they are included on the Background page for the site. DAACS encourages users of Archive data to help explore improvements.
DAACS Seriation Method
This page summarizes the frequency-seriation based chronology we developed for the 1809 Stone House project (see Neiman, Galle, and Wheeler 2003 for technical details).
As with other sites in the Archive, the seriation chronology for the 1809 Stone House project was derived from ceramic assemblages aggregated at the level of contexts and stratigraphic groups, and not at the level of features. This is because most contexts and stratigraphic groups on the site were not parts of features. For the relatively few cases where seriated contexts and stratigraphic groups were parts of features, the relevant feature numbers and descriptions are included in the seriation chronology table below. A seriation using MCD-types did not produce a successful chronology for the site. Thus, the seriation chronology presented here is the result of a correspondence analysis of ware-type frequencies in each stratigraphic group and each individual context that had no stratigraphic group assignment (Figures 1 and 2). Not all contexts have stratigraphic group assignments.
To reduce the noise introduced by sampling error, only ceramic assemblages with more than 5 sherds and more than two ceramic type from individuals excavated contexts and from stratigraphic groups were included. The results produced a strong correlation between Dimension 1 scores and MCDs (Figure 3). The correlation is even stronger for Dimension 1 scores and BLUE MCDs, which weights ware types with shorter manufacturing spans (Figure 4) (see Neiman and Smith 2005 for details). Based on the dips in ceramic counts observed in a histogram of Dimension 1, we divided the site into three phases (Figure 5). An additional phase (P04) was created from a group of three SGs set apart along Dimensions 1 and 2. Phase four assemblages appear to be mixed deposits with both early and late material.
Building n & 1809 Stone House Site Phases
Phases are groups of assemblages that have similar correspondence-analysis scores, similar MCDs, or both, and are therefore inferred to be broadly contemporary. Phases have a P-prefix that precedes the phase number (e.g. P01 equals Phase 1).
Mean ceramic dates for the site-specific phases are given in the table below. The table also includes two estimates of the ceramic TPQ for each phase. The first TPQ estimate is the usual one – the maximum beginning manufacturing date among all the Ware types in the assemblage. The second estimate — TPQp90 — is the 90th percentile of the beginning manufacturing dates among all the sherds in the assemblage, based on their Ware types. This TPQ estimate is more robust against excavation errors and taphonomic processes that might have introduces a few anomalously late sherds in an assemblage.
Phase one is a small assemblage from F18, described as a pit or tree hole with the same fill as the layer above it (SG09). Phase two encompasses for the most part what Kelso and his team interpreted as the “Occupation Zone” and is found in the units to exterior to the Stone House underlying the stratigraphic layer containing MRS-5 deposits (SG10). Phase three is comprised of assemblages from contexts associated with MRS-5 as well as deposts associated with the construction of the Stone House. Phase four consists of later period ceramics and may represent mixed and disturbed deposits on or near the modern surface. No deposits could be linked to the Building n described by Jefferson in 1796.
A Seriation Chronology for the Building n & 1809 Stone House Site
The following table presents a seriation chronology for the 1809 Stone House project. We use the indefinite article to signify that it is not the only chronology possible, nor the best. We encourage users of Archive data to help explore improvements.
The stratigraphic relationships among stratigraphic groups and unassigned contexts are summarized in the Harris Matrix for the site. Phase assignments from the seriation are
shown on the Harris Matrix in color, facilitating comparison of the seriation chronology and the stratigraphic chronology of the site
Building n & 1809 Stone House Harris Matrix
The Harris Matrix summarizes stratigraphic relationships among excavated contexts and groups of contexts that DAACS staff has identified as part of the same stratigraphic group. Stratigraphic groups and contexts are represented as boxes, while lines connecting them represent temporal relationships implied by the site’s stratification, as recorded by the site’s excavators (Harris 1979).
Stratigraphic groups, which represent multiple contexts, are identified on the diagram by their numeric designations (e.g. SG09) followed by the original excavator’s descriptions of them (e.g. “occupation zone”). Contexts that could not be assigned to stratigraphic groups are identified by their individual context numbers (e.g. 622A).
Boxes with color fill represent contexts and stratigraphic groups with ceramic assemblages large enough to be included in the DAACS seriation of the site (see Chronology). Their seriation-based phase assignments are denoted by different colors to facilitate evaluation of the agreement between the stratigraphic and seriation chronologies. Grey boxes represent contexts that were not included in the seriation because of small ceramic samples.
See Building n Chronology for stratigraphic and phase information. Please note that some of the contexts present in the chronology analysis are not visualized on the Harris Matrix. The contexts that are not included do not have any stratigraphic relationships with other contexts. The lack of relationships can occur for a few reasons but two common examples are 1) the artifacts are from a surface collection, which is entered into DAACS as a context but does not have recorded relationships to other contexts that are below it; 2) in cases where topsoil and plowzone are stripped and discarded, there may be features below the plowzone that are comprised of a single context. Since the plowzone does not exist as a documented context with artifacts, it cannot seal the single-context feature. DAACS also does not record subsoil as a context, so there is nothing for that single context feature to intrude or seal.
This Harris Matrix is based on data on stratigraphic relationships recorded among contexts in the DAACS database. It was drawn with the ArchEd application. See http://www.ads.tuwien.ac.at/arched/index.html.
For a printable version, download the Harris Matrix [248.43 KB PDF].
PDF of composite excavator’s plan, compiled by Monticello staff from original field drawings, with excavation units and features labeled.
PDF of composite excavator’s plan, compiled by Monticello staff from original field drawings, with only features labeled.
PDF of composite excavator's plan, compiled by Monticello staff from original field drawings, with only excavation units labeled.
EDMUND BACON to THOMAS JEFFERSON. 1808 October 21. Original manuscript on file at Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, Massachusetts Historical Society
EDMUND BACON, Monticello, to THOMAS JEFFERSON. 1808 November 17.  Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va
EDMUND BACON to THOMAS JEFFERSON. 1809 January 12.  Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va
Boyd, Julian , Barbara Oberg , John Cantanzariti , Charles T. Cullen , and Lyman Henry Butterfield
1950-2008 The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. [35 volumes to date]. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
JAMES DINSMORE to THOMAS JEFFERSON. 1809 February 24. Original manuscript on file at the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Harris, Edward C.
1979 Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy. Academic Press, London, England.
1806c Monticello: surveyed land (plat). N204; K167j. Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA. http://www.thomasjeffersonpapers.org
THOMAS JEFFERSON to EDMUND BACON. 1808 October 17. Original manuscript on file at the Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, Ca.
THOMAS JEFFERSON, Washington, to EDMUND BACON. 1808 December 6. Original manuscript on file at the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, Massachusetts Historical Society.
THOMAS JEFFERSON to JAMES DINSMORE. 1809 February 27. Private Collection, William Beiswanger compilation.
1809b Monticello: mountaintop (plat). N225; K169. Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA. http://www.thomasjeffersonpapers.org
1796 Monticello: building insurance. N133; K136. Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA. http://www.thomasjeffersonpapers.org
Kelso, William M.
1984a Archaeological Excavation of the Levy Tomb/ Stonehouse Site, Mulberry Row, Monticello: Preliminary Report. Manuscript on file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Kelso, William M.
1982 A Report on the Archaeological Excavations at Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1979-1981. Manuscript on file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Kelso, William M.
1997 Archaeology at Monticello: Artifacts of Everyday Life in the Plantation Community. Monticello Monograph Series. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Neiman, Fraser D., Jillian E. Galle , and Derek Wheeler
2003 Chronological Inference and DAACS. Unpublished paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology, Providence, Rhode Island. On file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
1957 Archaeological Excavations at Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia. Manuscript on file at the Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Urofsky, Melvin I.
2001 The Levy Family and Monticello, 1834-1923: Saving Thomas Jefferson’s House. The University of North Carolina Press. Chapel Hill, North Carolina.