[drawing of tenement house]
Lord Mayor's Tenement: An architectural drawing by Willie Graham, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Discovering the Lord Mayor's Tenement
This building has been reconstructed on the footprint of the original 1700s house. Measuring 20 x 20 feet, it met the building requirements of the early town - each lot owner had to construct such a building within five years or lose their property.
Owned by David Macklefish, the self-styled "Lord Mayor" of London Town, it was not his residence but likely a rental property or tenement housing a family or craftsmen or laborers, servants or slaves.
Through careful excavation, archaeologists found stains in the soil showing the outline of the house. It was an "earthfast" or "post-in-the-ground" building - its vertical posts were sunk into the ground with no underlying foundation.
Archaeologists also found a burned area where the fireplace once stood.
During the 1600s and 1700s, most buildings in the Chesapeake area were earthfast. They did not last long due to termites and decay. The Lord Mayor's Tenement probably only stood for 30 or 40 years.
[painting of town]
London Town: An artist's interpretation of the colonial town. Painting by Lee Boynton.
The Lord Mayor's Tenement was rebuilt in 2002-2003, based on the archaeology and other information about early Chesapeake architecture. Approximately 200 years after its first construction, master housewright, Russell Steele, and volunteers recreated the tenement, using tools and building techniques of the 1700s.
[pictures of tools]
Froe: was an important tool used in making clapboards and shingles.
Drawknife: woodworkers used the drawknife to split and shape rough boards.
Maul: a hammer or mallet. It was used to drive the blade of a froe or a wedge in splitting wood.
Broad Ax: was used for squaring logs.
Wedges: made of wood or metal. When hit at the thick end by a maul, a wedge helped to split the wood along the grain.
What was it like to live in the Lord Mayor's Tenement during 1700-1720? The tenant family had few, if any luxuries. Their simple belonging might have included a table, some chairs, one or two beds and very little in the way of personal objects.
Most of their activities, including cooking took place in the hall - the room with the fireplace. The second room was unheated but was used as a bedroom or for other household work. The children and servants slept in the loft area.
The houseyard surrounding the dwelling was the scene of intense daily activity - laundry, butchering animals, leather-crafting and chopping wood. The kitchen garden supplies a major part of the family's food; taking 40 hours of work a week by the women and children to maintain it.
The Lord Mayor's Tenement project was funded by a generous gift from Donna Valley Russell.
And through contributions by Alice Murray, Bernard and Victoria Lerch, the Frohring Foundation, the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimmage, the Maryland Association of History Museums, the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and the friends of Bernard and Faye Rosenberg.