Sailors and Stack Houses

HPC Elevationby Elizabeth PeeblesArchitectural Historian

While a lot of attention has been paid to the archaeology at Old Colchester Park & Preserve, a few still standing remnants of the past are visible within the park. The Hannah P. Clark House is one of these historic resources on parkland.

Period I portion of the Hannah P. Clark House

Period I portion of the Hannah P. Clark House

The oldest portion of the Hannah P. Clark House dates to circa 1876, built after the decline of the Colonial town of Colchester. It was constructed with peeled logs as a stack house. Stack houses are one room in plan and two stories. In the Mid-Atlantic stack houses were constructed throughout the nineteenth century as an affordable and quickly constructed house. The two story plan provided a sense of separation between the public and private spaces of the small houses. Last month I attended the Vernacular Architecture Forum Annual Conference and heard a paper by Alexandra Tarantino, “Stacking Up the Facts: The Evolution and Persistence of the Stack House in South Jersey.” Tarantino was presenting on stack houses found in a 18th/19th century maritime community in Southern New Jersey not too dissimilar from the early history of Colchester. Her paper is one of the few analytical studies about stack houses. She found that in her study area the builders and residents of stack houses ranged in economic status but most of them were sea captains or sailors. Prior to the construction of the Hannah P. Clark House James Clark, Hannah’s husband, reported his occupation as a boatsman. This makes me wonder if other fisherman and sailor houses that have vanished in the Colchester area were stack houses as well.

The Hannah P. Clark House on The Old Colchester Park and Preserve

The Hannah P. Clark House on The Old Colchester Park and Preserve

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About cartarchaeology

We are the County Archaeological Research Team, part of the Archaeology and Collections Branch, Resource Management Division, Fairfax County Park Authority. We are tasked with understanding and managing the cultural resources on Park land throughout Fairfax County.
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