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Buildings r, s, t and "Negro Quarter"

The eastern end of Mulberry Row offers a clear illustration of the kind of archaeological palimpsest that the Mulberry Row Reassessment is designed to disentangle. Here we find architectural evidence for four or more architectural phases, spanning the 18th and 19th centuries. Two of these phases clearly date to Jefferson's tenure. They are represented by the remains of the "Negro Quarter," built in the 1770's and by the traces of Buildings r, s, and t, dating to the 1790's.

A measured drawing made by Jefferson c. 1776-78 shows an early scheme for Mulberry Row, consisting of a series of connected outbuildings, backing on to a rectangular garden with multiple, equal-size planting beds. At the eastern terminus of the string of structures Jefferson drew a two-celled building in which a central chimney provided each room with a hearth. The indicated scale denoted a structure 17-by-34 feet, while Jefferson's notes designated the building a "Negro quarter." Four related sub-floor pits were uncovered in Area 2 of the site plan above and correspond with the building location shown on the Jefferson plat. Click on that area of the map for additional information concerning the interpretation of the pit features as part of this slave quarter.

A second phase of construction began in the early 1790s. By this time the "Negro quarter" had been razed and burned. In its place Jefferson had three slave quarters built. In 1792, Jefferson wrote to the Monticello overseer instructing that: "five log houses are to be built at the places I have marked out of chestnut logs, hewed on two sides and split with the saw and dovetailed. Mr. Randolph [Jefferson's son-in-law] will show the places, and direct the kind of houses. They are to be covered and lofted with slabs..." That at least a few of these houses were built on Mulberry Row is confirmed by Jefferson's letter to Randolph in 1793 in which he discusses moving the slaves from the stone house on Mulberry Row (building E) to "the two nearest of the new log-houses which were intended for them..." From the 1796 Mutual Assurance plan, Jefferson described the buildings as follows: "r. which as well as s. and t. are servants houses of wood with wooden chimnies, & earth floors, 12. by 14. feet, each and 27. feet apart from one another." Excavations yielded traces of all three buildings.

A third construction phase in this area is represented by six brick piers, which supported a frame building that was probably built under the tenure of the Levy family, after Jefferson's death. There is also evidence for additional construction phases, possibly from Jefferson's time. A cobble pavement in the same area as the Levy-period building closely resembles the remains of floors in Jefferson's the Blacksmith shop (Building m) and Building l. An L-shaped alignment of cobbles, just west of Building s, may represent a surviving corner of a stone foundation of unknown date.

More detailed archaeological plans of these structures can be found by clicking on Area 1 or Area 2 of the site map above.


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