The years of excavations at the site where George Washington was raised finally paid off for the team of archaeologists in charge of the project. On July 2, the George Washington Foundation announced the discovery of the remains of the house where the first U.S. President spent the early years of his life.
Seven seasons of excavations brought to light parts of the wooden structure of the house once inhabited by George Washington and his family. The Washington residence was larger than one-and-a-half story house, on a bluff overlooking the Rappahannock River.
The archaeologists unearthed the remains of the foundation and the cellars that were once part of the wooden structure of the house. There’s also evidence of a fire that supposedly took place on Christmas Eve in 1740. Unfortunately, many of the house elements of the original structure have either been used to build other structures on the property, or destroyed by the Civil War troops that stopped by.
The foundation however is now visible, although partially destroyed, together with the remains of two chimney bases, two stone-lined cellars and two root cellars, where the Washington family once stored perishables.
George Washington, who was born on February 22, 1732, remained the focus point for archaeologists, who have been trying for years to find the remains of his boyhood home. Some attempts in the 1990s were doomed to failed, and it wasn’t until recently that they got closer to finding the real Washington residence.
The discovery of the four cellars of the house provided a large number of artifacts, which represent an essential element in reconstituting and identifying the Washington residence. Among the thousands of objects, archaeologists found fragments of 18th century pottery and ceramics, glass shards, wig curlers, toothbrush handles made of bone, as well as remainings of painted walls and ceilings and family hearth.
Unfortunately, some of the evidence was destroyed or turned into little pieces in the 19th century, when the land here was plowed.
Among the pieces recovered was a broken bowl of a pipe, which was typical to the 18th century, bearing a Masonic crest, which was easily associated with George Washington, who is known to have joined the Fredericksburg Lodge of the Masons in 1753. At the age of just 21, George Washington became a Master Mason among the fraternal organization Freemasonry (which still exists today).
George Washington and his family moved to what now is known as Ferry Farm in 1738, when he was just six. However, despite knowing the approximate place where he grew up, somewhere in the Stafford County, near Fredericksburg, archaeologists found it hard to pinpoint the remains of the house until now.
Washington was connected to the house for much of his youth, before moving to an estate near Washington D.C. On Christmas Eve, 1740, a fire partially affected the house, evidence supported by two letters and pieces of burnt plaster and charcoal in one of the root cellars.
Philip Levy, University of Florida historian and archaeologist at the site, and David Muraca of the George Washington Foundation, said in a teleconference organized by the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration, which also funded the research, that this is indeed the long-sought house of George Washington.
Moreover, the evidence found is just a starting point in making a better idea on how the life of United States’ first President was like, especially considering that Ferry Farm was practically the setting where George Washington lived an important part of his life, and the setting of the legendary cherry tree story.
By Dee Chisamera