Lott House Q&A
"Brooklyn's Eighteenth-Century Lott House"
What were your research questions?
Chris Ricciardi: We had a shopping list of them. We hoped to reconstruct:
the lifeways of members of the Lott family
the wealth and status of the Lotts
the material culture in the suburbs of Manhattan
the market availability of various goods
farming practices in southern Brooklyn
social interaction within the Lott family and in civic settings
the transformation of land usage as the landscape changed from rural to urban
As excavation revs up, new lines of inquiry continue to emerge. For example, finding the remains of the stone kitchen, which confirmed historical photographs, allowed us to link the materials from that area directly to specific function, i.e. eating, food preparing, domestic living, etc., but raised questions about the origins of consumed foods and the status of residents of the structure. I'd like to see a clear difference in the stratigraphy that will tell us where things were planted and what types of things that were grown. This would help to affirm what we believe to be occurring at this site: the growing of wheat, corn, peas, string beans, potatoes, and flowers, and the raising of dairy stock.
Since we know the Lotts to have had a fair amount of money, we expect to find high quality material remains. Last year's dig in the stone feature revealed little in terms of traditional upper-class material remains, leading us to wonder whether servants, not family members, were living in this structure. If further investigation suggests that servants or slaves did in fact live in the stone kitchen, we may be able to address some of the site's most intriguing questions:
What were the lifeways of slaves and servants?
What were the social interactions between the Lotts and their slaves and indentured servants?
And we might begin to uncover the answer to the question I'd most like to ask Henry Lott:
What made you decide to free your slaves by 1809, almost 20 years before New York State abolished slavery?
What analogies can you suggest from similar sites that address the research questions?
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