Broken plates. Bricks. Beer bottles.
A Huntington archaeological dig turned up more curiosities than real treasures, but researchers say there’s still a lot to learn.
Local historians, with the help of an archaeologist hired by town officials, dug down about a foot at the site of a Revolutionary War-era arsenal on Park Avenue just north of Woodhull Road, where the local militia stored supplies.
“Even though the finds may not be earth-shattering, they do remind us of Huntington’s long history and that traces of that history are literally right beneath our feet,” town historian Robert Hughes said of the May 25 dig.
A fragment of a piece of pottery from the late 18th century was unearthed. Several items dating to the early 19th century were also discovered.
The bricks and broken blue and white plates shared the space with a piece of a grindstone. Several bottles, one still containing liquid, were recovered. Ceramic pieces dating from throughout the 19th century — some made locally — also were excavated.
One of two long-neck bottles pulled out of the dirt can be traced to the Huntington House, a tavern and hotel that stood on the northwest corner of Main and Wall streets, about a mile away from the dig site, until 1920. The tavern was the precursor of what today is Finnegan’s Tap Room.
The second beer bottle is inscribed with the name of Welz and Zerweck — a Ridgewood, Brooklyn, brewery that was in business from 1883 until 1920, when Prohibition put an end to it.
Historians said they were hoping to find an outhouse or old well at the site. Outhouse pits hold the potential for yielding a rich collection of artifacts, Hughes said.
“Historically sometimes when they filled in an outhouse or a well, they filled it in with trash,” said Toby Kissam, executive coordinator of the Huntington Historical Society, who participated in the dig. “They’re cavities for archaeological finds.”
But no outhouse or well was found at the site of the old arsenal. In 1775, local militia stored gunpowder, kettles, tents and other supplies at the facility.
The 90-minute dig followed a more comprehensive September 2006 study at the arsenal site. At that time there was a detached garage on the property concealing what historians said they hoped was an outhouse pit.
The garage was removed in 2012 during the town’s restoration of the arsenal. Town officials have appropriated $21,000 to build a pavilion to house the town’s replica Revolutionary War-era whaleboat on the site.
The arsenal is open for special events and, by appointment, for tours hosted by costumed interpreters.
Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said the discoveries will eventually go on display.
“They didn’t find what they hoped for, but I think it was a worthwhile study to see what was there,” Petrone said. “It’s a historic site so there are things that go back to different historic eras which are of interest.”