[The following blog post written by Nicole Walsh.]
The VanDeventer-Fountain House was originally built as a farm on the southeast coast of Staten Island. The farm was passed down through the VanDeventer family, gradually being subdivided into lots amongst siblings, including a daughter who married into the Fountain family, through which the house then passed. Around 1885, the house was sold to Henri Mouquin, a prominent New York restaurateur said to be the largest importer of wines in the country. Mouquin sold the property to the Army in 1901 as the Naval Station at nearby Fort Wadsworth was expanding. The Army used the house until 1908, when it was demolished to make way for administrative buildings and dormitories.
The artifacts from the VanDeventer-Fountain House at Gateway National Recreation Area range in date from the mid-eighteenth century up through the twentieth. The collection includes all three types of ceramics: earthenwares, stonewares, and porcelain. The earliest sherds, dating from the mid- to late-eighteenth century, include trailed slipware, tin enameled (delft), coarse buff bodied, creamware, whieldon, pearlware, and white salt-glazed stoneware. The collection also contains wares from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries including plain, handpainted, and transfer-printed whiteware, domestic and imported stoneware, porcelain, yellowware, and majolica. The most notable vessels are perfume and cosmetic pots, serving dishes, a candlestick holder, and a transfer-printed whiteware mug that reads “Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac.” Click on the photos for detailed descriptions!
The glass in the collection includes freeblown, contact molded, and machine-made examples. There are several intact bottles, including beverage containers, pharmaceutical bottles, and bottles intended for household cleaning solutions. Click on the photos to learn more!
The collection contains a small number of nails (hand-forged, machine-cut, and wire), but a large quantity of door hardware (hinges, latches, etc.) was recovered, which may indicate one of the renovations in the home’s history. There was also a small quantity of bullets, primarily dating from the late 19th to early 20th century. The most notable metal artifacts were two conserved “Enniskillen Castle” brass buttons (one bone-backed) dating to the 18th century and belonging to a Scottish regiment that was stationed on Station Island during the American Revolution.
Shell recovered from the VanDeventer-Fountain House includes quahog and oyster, as well as whelks and soft-shell clams. Bones include fish, cow, chicken, goose, turkey, pig, rat, and other miscellaneous animals commonly found in the Northeast. In one provenience a nearly complete turkey skeleton was excavated, which could indicate the main dish from a meal at the home. The faunal collection is extensive and warrants further research and identification.