Tuesday, April 24, 2012

More Urban Archaeology at 97 Orchard Street

A couple of weeks ago we revealed some surprising finds from the recent excavation of a fireplace at 97 Orchard Street. As construction for our new exhibit, Shop Life, continues, we've opened the second sealed fireplace located in the same space.

Examining the fireplace contents

Collections Manager Kathleen O'Hara led the "dig", sorting through pounds of grit and debris to identify evidence of the building's past.

Most of the material from the first fireplace related to William Sher’s jobbing house, located at 97 from about 1924 to 1935. We don't know precisely when this second fireplace was sealed, but most of its content relates to an earlier business called Claman Stove repair, located at 97 Orchard from about 1909 to 1917. 

Unlike its neighbor, which was sealed in a rather haphazard fashion, this fireplace was covered with carefully fitted beaded board (recycled wainscot material) with a wood-grained finish beneath coats of paint.

Fireplace #2 contained a cache of older, and in some cases less immediately recognizable objects, including a toy ball, a small metal pitcher, a cloth cap (the flattened object in the middle of the picture above), and a small metal axe head (see below).

We also came across several scraps of newspaper printed in German. We haven't yet been able to date all of these, but one fragment is dated to the 1870's. German language newspapers were very common in the Lower East Side during the late 19th century, when this neighborhood was known as Kleindeutschland, or Little Germany.

We'll keep you posted as work continues on our Shop Life exhibit!

-- Posted by Public Relations Manager Kira Garcia

1 comment:

  1. incredible! please keep the posts coming :)


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