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Fragments of the Past

pieces of ceramics
Caption (ArchOverview): While these objects may not look like much, this assortment of corroded nails, broken pieces of glass, and ceramic sherds help to tell the story of the Pavilion.

Fall is in the air on the shores of Lake Champlain and utility excavations around the Pavilion are winding down for the year. Our Collections Department and the Pavilion restoration team have kept a keen eye on the soil to document and collect any objects unearthed in the process of restoration. Ceramics, metal fragments, and glass are likely to come to light when construction takes place on a site occupied since 1826, and the Pavilion is no exception. Most of the utility work is concentrated along the western addition of the Pavilion, near the kitchen. Just like their modern counterparts, historic kitchens are a reliable source of broken bottles, cast off cookware, and pieces of plates. These discarded scraps give us a window into daily life rarely recorded in history books or contemporary traveler’s chronicles.

Most of the ceramics discovered were made in the mid to late 1800s when the Pell family leased the property to various tenants. Converted into a hotel by 1840, the Pavilion was a popular stop along the fashionable Northern Tour in the nineteenth century. Much like the Great Tour in Europe, where children of elite and aspiring families traveled throughout Italy and France to complete their education and gain inspiration from the past, the Northern Tour included sites of important battles and breathtaking wilderness to inspire a new nation. The Pavilion had both—wilderness that captured the imagination of authors and artists, like Thomas Cole, and the ruins of old Fort Ticonderoga, where Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold caught the British by surprise in 1775, and was a perfect place to stay until the advent of the automobile.

Stay tuned here and on Fort Ticonderoga’s Facebook page for updates on the restoration of the Pavilion, new discoveries, and more from Fort Ticonderoga every week.