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Strafford Square, Rochester, NH

SHOWN ABOVE: Wyeth & Bro medicine bottle with dose cap.

Sample of medicine bottles recovered.

In 2015, IAC completed Phase IB and II archaeological investigations for the Ezekiel and Elisabeth Wentworth Homestead (27-ST-113) located where the City of Rochester, New Hampshire, proposes a roundabout in the downtown area. Ezekiel Wentworth (c.1824-1905) constructed a 1 ½ story cape shortly after purchasing a one-acre parcel at the intersection of Walnut and Washington Streets in 1853. Wentworth shared the home with his wife Elisabeth (born c. 1833) and two young daughters, and sold the property to Dr. Nathaniel Dorman (c.1805-1893) in 1867. The Dormans and various members of his extended family –primarily the Kimball and Allen families – lived in the house for the next eight decades.

The Phase IB/II fieldwork revealed rich archaeological deposits especially in the area of the former carriage house/barn. Crews recovered 7,019 artifacts including an abundance of medicine bottles. Although the site was found eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and would typically require a Phase III data recovery, no additional excavation was performed given the abundance of late 19th and early 20th century material and considering that the collection of more artifacts would not contribute significantly to site interpretation. Instead, IAC conducted an alternative mitigation plan focusing on the 44 medicine bottles in the collection.


Ad for Paine’s Celery Compound.

IAC developed a series of research questions as a framework to discuss world views of medicine and health in the late 19th and early 20th century in the region. We also focused on how the extended Dorman/Kimball/Allen family in residence at 2-4 Walnut Street between the 1870s and the 1920s participated in (or rejected) common practices based on the archaeological evidence at the site. Focusing on the collection of 44 medicine bottles, researchers consulted city directories, maps, newspapers and other archival resources, to reconstruct and identify the local consumer landscape during this period, paying attention to physicians and apothecaries in the city who may have offered competing medical strategies.


Posted on

April 19, 2018