Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Christa M. Beranek

Second Advisor

David B. Landon

Third Advisor

Stephen W. Silliman


This thesis examines the second greenhouse at Gore Place, a historic country estate in Waltham, Massachusetts. Gore Place was owned by and named for Christopher and Rebecca Gore, members of the 18th- and 19th-century political and economic elite in New England. The greenhouse was constructed in 1806, and excavation at the site took place in 2004, 2008, and 2012. The latter two projects were data recovery excavations, which exposed portions of the greenhouse’s foundations and interior, as well as several features in the yard surrounding the building. Historic greenhouses were prestigious structures, financially accessible only to institutions, governments, and the wealthy elite. How a greenhouse was built and organized and what plants it contained can yield information on the motivations behind its construction. To that end, this thesis analyzed the history of the Gores and their country estate, the culture of the 18th- and 19th-century New England elite, the methods and reasons for greenhouse construction, and the archaeological results from the 2004-2011 excavations.

This analysis indicates that the Gores built their greenhouse in the efficient “Lean-to” style, which is characterized by a sloped front wall made almost entirely of glass. The building was heated via a furnace and flue system, and grew grapes in beds and other potted plants on shelves or platforms. The greenhouse yard was explicitly arranged to support the building. The Gores were motivated to build the 1806 greenhouse as part of an expression of Christopher’s aristocratic identity and the pair’s commitment to scientific agriculture and horticulture.