Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



Excavations and ground penetrating radar at Gore Place in Waltham, Massachusetts, examined the original 1793 carriage house site, the 1806 greenhouse, and the greenhouse/carriage house well, all associated with Christopher and Rebecca Gore. The carriage house was moved in 1968, and its cellar was filled at that time. Mechanical removal of the fill in a portion of the carriage house cellar revealed that the lower portion of at least the rear (north) foundation wall is well preserved along with the cellar floor. Documentary evidence indicated that the carriage house cellar had been used for manure (compost) preparation, while the first floor was used to house horses and to store gardening tools and firewood. Four excavation units set into the cellar floor revealed no evidence of its former use for manure production (such as organic staining) indicating that it had been thoroughly cleaned. The artifacts present in the floor units represent a considerable time period from that of the Gores through to the early 20th century. The majority of objects date to the Gore period, and the wide variety may reflect the incorporation of refuse into manure production.

Investigations north of the structure showed that some of the soil in the parking lot constituting the western portion of Gore’s vegetable garden was removed and replaced with a uniform mixture of sand and gravel, probably at the time the carriage house was moved. While the gravel is at least 2 m deep close to the carriage house foundation, its depth lessens with distance northward, since shovel testing in 2004 showed intact dark brown loamy soil beginning at a depth of 35 to 50 cm below driveway gravel and sand bedding at 20 and 40 m north of the carriage house foundation.

Early 19th-century maps indicated that the greenhouse was roughly 60 feet (18 m) long and 15 to 21 feet (up to 6.5 m) wide with a small extension on the west end. Fifty-two square meters were excavated at the west end, uncovering the trapezoidal brick fl oor of the extension and an associated stone drain, ground surfaces contemporary with the greenhouse, post holes for a fence that separated the greenhouse area from the carriage house, layers relating to the greenhouse’s destruction (early 1840s), and later landscaping features including a stone wall and two drains. Documentary, archaeological, and geophysical data suggest that the greenhouse was a formal space intended to grow and display exotic plants and that it was built in the relatively new lean-to style, with a tall back wall and short front wall. The artifact assemblage included architectural elements, tools and small finds related to the greenhouse operation (including the remains of at least 149 planting pots), and bone stockpiled for soil enrichment. The greenhouse was constructed by the Gores during a period of intense interest in agricultural experimentation by members of the Massachusetts commercial and political elite. Scholars have argued that these men used the positive associations of agriculture to offset some of the contemporary negative connotations of commerce. This report examines the greenhouse both as a space for the display of exotic plants in the context of this scientifi c agricultural movement and posits that Rebecca Gore may have played a signifi cant role in managing it.


Prepared for Gore Place Society by the Fiske Center for Archaeological Research, University of Massachusetts Boston.

Cultural Resources Management Study No 45.