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  CHINESE VERSION >>  
 

Forgotten Cistern is an Archaeological Gold Mine

The circa 1661 Bowne House in Flushing, Queens (maintained by the Historic House Trust of New York City and operated by the Bowne House Historical Society) is regarded as one of the best preserved examples of Anglo-Dutch vernacular architecture in the country.  Last year the Bowne House began a substantial exterior preservation project based on the findings and recommendations from a 2007 Historic Structures Report (HSR).

The HSR utilized materials from the Bowne House Historical Society’s extensive archives associated with the lives of the nine generations of Bowne and Parsons family inhabiting the house until 1946.  This invaluable documentation was coupled by dendrochronology performed on the building’s frame and ongoing archaeological excavations at the site.

Additionally, archaeological investigations provided a wealth of information.  In particular, a cistern found under the floor of the c.1815 laundry addition presented an opportunity for archaeologists to venture back in time to the eighteenth century.  When the large cistern was decommissioned, it became the Bowne family’s refuse receptacle before eventually being filled and forgotten.  Thousands of artifacts, including Chinese export porcelain and apothecary bottles were unearthed and are now being documented and catalogued.  The Historical Society plans to curate a special exhibit of the recent discoveries from the cistern.  There are also plans to incorporate the cistern into the visitor’s experience.

The ongoing preservation of the exterior, and eventually the interior, as well as the recent archaeological excavations provide an incredible opportunity to learn more about the Bowne and Parsons family who inhabited the Bowne House for approximately 285 years.  The project allows the Historical Society to reassess and expand their current interpretation, incorporating new stories about nine generations of Quakers, abolitionists, nurserymen, and the women who resided in one of New York City’s great seventeenth century Anglo-Dutch farmhouses.

by
Jason Crowley
Preservation Director

Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities
P.O. Box 148
Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724

www.splia.org