Building i (Carpenter's Shop)
Building i, located on the western end of Monticello's Mulberry Row, was identified by Jefferson in the Mutual Assurance Declaration of 1796 as a house “used at times as a carpenter’s shop”. Aside from Jefferson's brief description and accompanying plat, no historical references to a structure in this location are known. In 1957, Pi-Sunyer placed two long trenches in an area west of Building C, or the Joinery, but reported finding no architectural remains to the west of the Joinery's stone foundation. Twenty-nine years later, Kelso directed excavations in the presumed area of Building i, uncovering a series of postholes that closely matched the structure's dimensions provided by Jefferson. Kelso's work at the site in 1986 represents the final coordinated effort to document archaeologically the Mulberry Row structures recorded on the 1796 plat.
Two early sketches, one schematic (Jefferson: N85) and one measured (Jefferson: N87), depicted a line of buildings in what are believed today to be largely unrealized versions of Mulberry Row. Although a carpenter's shop appeared in both, in one it is shown east of the extant stone workman's house and in the other it is located just west of the stone house rather than on the far western end of the Row, where the excavation site of Building i is located.
On the 1796 Mutual Assurance Declaration, Jefferson (Jefferson: N133) identified Building i as:
a house 30 by 18 ½ f. all of wood, the floor of earth, in which is stored plank and such things. It is used at times as a carpenter’s shop, and sometimes a little fire is made on the floor. From this house is 56. feet to C. the joiner’s shop
The size and location of the structure "used at times as a carpenter's shop" corresponded to what archaeologists uncovered in 1986 on the far western end of Mulberry Row, leading them to confidently interpret the structure as Jefferson's Building i.
Excavation history, procedure and methods
Oriol Pi-Suyner, who worked extensively on Mulberry Row in the summer of 1957, conducted the first archaeological investigations in the area of Building i. Upon completion of the Joinery excacations (Pi-Sunyer Structure I; Jefferson Building C), Pi-Sunyer (1957:21) described running two parallel trenches west of the Joinery for a distance of 80 feet but reported finding “nothing of importance, either structurally or in the way of artifacts”. Sediment was not screened, and, although some artifacts were curated, the criteria for artifact collection remains unclear. In addition, spatial control of artifact recovery exists only at the site level for Pi-Sunyer’s work. Thus, artifact data from the trenches in the area of Building i are not provided by the archive at this time.
William Kelso placed two 4-by-5 foot quadrats (ER120 and ER122) on either side of Building i in 1979 to document the northern perimeter of the garden fence. Although the contextual and artifact data from these units are included in the archive, the quadrats did not intersect the structure proper.
Seven years later, in 1986, Kelso returned to the western end of Mulberry Row specifically to uncover archaeological evidence for Building i. Twelve 8-by-8 foot quadrats, separated by 2-foot wide baulks, were placed on a grid already known to align with Mulberry Row structures identified in the 1796 plat. Six of these quadrats contained postholes that Kelso inferred belonged to the structure identified by Jefferson as Bulding i. The balks and one 8-by-8 foot quadrat were not excavated. Three 4-by-8 foot units on the far west end of the excavation area exposed the western line of structural posts.
Summary of research and analysis
Kelso (1997:79) summarized the results of Building i excavations in a discussion about the shops on Mulberry Row:
Excavations...revealed...seven postholes where main support posts...had been seated in the ground, two lines of three on the north and south and one at the center of the west wall. It is possible that the single west wall hole is evidence of a door or chimney hood. No earth floor levels survived and...few artifacts except for nails were found.
He goes on to suggest the discovery of small, double-pointed nails during excavation may indicate shoemaking activity described in documents.
Five years later, Martha Hill provided an historical and archaeological assessment of the structure for the Mulberry Row Reassessment (2002a; 2002b; 2003). In terms of architecture, Hill noted that Kelso's
units neatly captured the features that define [the shop]: seven posts seated in the earth, probably joined by an eighth...which was not excavated. These postholes describe a three-bay, post-in-the-ground, 30' x 18 1/2' building. The structure was flimsy...[and] probably was thrown up, along with the similarly constructed Blacksmith's Shop and Nailery in the early 1790s. It was intended to be a temporary shelter for materials, activity and labor for the construction of Monticello II.
Hill also remarked on the lack of interior features associated with the structure, including anything that could be construed as evidence for the occasional maintenance of a "little fire" on the floor. Hill noted the absence of evidence for a hard-packed earthen floor, and both Kelso and Hill suggested the living surface may have been removed.
In concluding, Hill identified two questions that an artifact and contextual reanalysis might answer:
- How long into the 19th century was the building in use?
- With the completion of Monticello II, was it demolished, allowed to collapse or rededicated to a new function?
Even preliminary analysis by the Archive suggests these and other lingering questions can be addressed with available archaeological data. For example, Monticello staff have identified and dated a deposit (SG01) south of the south wall of Building i (FG01). The ceramic content of SG01 rather clearly suggests an early 19th century Jefferson-period occupation of the area and probably the structure (see Chronology section). A noticeable post-Jefferson ceramic deposit is contained within SG02 and may reflect mid-19th century occupation in the immediate area. A second line of posts (F13, F19, and F21) positioned at an angle to Building i is worth additional consideration but has not been assigned Feature Group status at this time.