The Orangery Dig
An 18th-Century Greenhouse
“Orangery?” An 18th-century greenhouse for — yes — oranges, and other citrus plants.
For six weeks in 1998, Carroll’s Hundred archaeologists partnered with then Chief Archaeologist at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Dennis Pogue. Dr. Pogue and his team came to our site to complete the partially excavated foundations of a period greenhouse.
Why would Mount Vernon be interested in our orangery?
“George’s [Washington’s] mind was rarely far from the lush gardens and majestic views at Mount Vernon.” For a man so enamored of landscape design and horticulture, it was indeed fortuitous that the cousin of his Aide-de-camp, Tench Tilghman, was none other than Margaret Tilghman Carroll, the wife of his Maryland neighbor, Charles Carroll Barrister.
Word must have travelled quickly to General Washington about the Carrolls’ Orangery. And, it would not have been long until the Carroll’s, hearing of his interest, would have invited him to see it. Through his aide-de-camp, Washington indirectly asked if he might see the plans for the orangery. Soon, Washington began construction of his own. But, here is the twist. Today, visitors to Mount Vernon see a very beautiful orangery — that has been completely reconstructed. The original one, quite similar, but somewhat larger than the Carrolls’, was completely destroyed by fire.
Following the Archaeological Trail
And, so, this round-about story shows how indirect a path research can take, often leading in many different directions, many fascinating in and of themselves, such as the orangery story here. But our objective is to use the research uncovered by archaeological excavations at Carroll’s Hundred to tell a larger and more significant story. So, using the remains of this and other structures, we can follow the trail of our archaeological investigation by asking questions and drawing conclusions from what we discover: