Ephraim Sprague House Archaeological Site
A Time Capsule from the 18th Century
The Ephraim Sprague House Archaeological Site was the location of a farmstead that was occupied from about 1705 to the 1750s by Ephraim Sprague and his family. Sprague came to Connecticut with his father and brother from Duxbury, Massachusetts, and bought land here just as this area was being opened up for settlement. Although not wealthy compared to the leading men of the Connecticut colony, he made a comfortable living from farming and was a man of prominence within his small community.
Archaeological investigations at the site produced convincing evidence that Sprague’s house had the long and narrow proportions of the “cross-passage” house form, with a cellar at each end and two chimneys. This type of house had been common in the Plymouth Colony in the 17th century. The archaeology also determined that the house was destroyed by fire, probably sometime in the 1750s.
More than 200,000 artifacts and ecofacts were recovered and inventoried by the project: ceramics, nails, window and bottle glass, pipe fragments, food remains, and all sorts of household objects. Many of the ceramic sherds were cross-mended into nearly whole vessels, including baking dishes and items from a tea set. The archaeology also located numerous features such as food-storage pits, hearths, and a well. Although the fire that destroyed the house was probably a tragedy for Sprague and his family, it created a virtual time capsule, undiscovered for 250 years, that has added greatly to knowledge of life in the early 18th century.
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The excavated south cellar of Ephraim Sprague's house.