Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



A phased program of stabilization and restoration for the Loring-Greenough House and property located in Jamaica Plain, a suburb of Boston, MA, called for reconstruction of porches, construction of an entrance walk and new foundations for the carriage house. This program also included landscaping and rehabilitation of garden plantings in the north yard. Archaeological testing was conducted to identify cultural resources that would be impacted by the proposed project and to search for evidence of early garden features that could be used to guide landscape restoration. The first phase of research focused on house porches, walkway installation and foundation work in the carriage house (Mohler and Kelley 2000). The second phase of work, reported herein, focused on the temporal assessment of existing planting beds and identification of historic planting features. A total of five 1 m x 1 m units and four 1 m x .5 m units were excavated in the north yard. Investigations revealed the presence of an intact buried A-horizon in the east and south portions of the north yard that contains eighteenth and early nineteenth century artifacts. Sand walkways were laid down in the early to mid nineteenth century and may have corresponded with other house improvements made around 1840. Such improvements may have included the creation of a formal garden with beds laid out in a geometric pattern. These garden features were covered over with landscaping fill sometime after 1937 when a plan of the property was made by the Historic American Buildings Survey. The present parallel garden beds may have been created simultaneously with the geometric garden. The parallel beds have been maintained with slight twentieth-century modification up to the present. The irregular lilac beds at the north edge of the property appear to date to the late nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, while the herb bed was created in the late twentieth century. Evidence of seventeenth to eighteenth century garden features consisting of a series of small planting holes was identified below the south end of the parallel beds and associated walkway. The program of archaeological testing revealed the presence of a well-preserved buried A-horizon across much of the property that is associated with the eighteenth and early nineteenth cenury occupation of the property. In addition evidence of eighteenth century gardening activity lies at the base of the buried A-horizon. An early nineteenth century pathway was found on the surface of the buried A-horizon. Due to the presence of well-preserved arcaeological deposits recommendations for proposed garden restoration focused on the need to limit the depth of new planting holes to prevent disturbance to the buried A-horizon. Because tree planting and erection of posts for arbors require greater depths, it was recommended that the new planting and post locations should be archaeologically excavated to mitigate potentially adverse impacts. The excavated holes will then be used for specific trees and posts. The third phase of archaeological investigation associated with the foundations of the carriage house north wall joists will be reported under separate cover.


Prepared for The Jamaica Plain Tuesday Club Inc. by the Center for Cultural and Environmental History, University of Massachusetts Boston. Cultural Resources Management Study No. 11.