Archaeological Investigations in Support of Rehabilitation of the Van Wagenen/Apple Tree House

Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey


Between 2006 and 2017 Hunter Research carried out a series of archaeological investigations in and around the Apple Tree/Van Wagenen House in the City of Jersey City. This house is the only building within the limits of the fortified colonial Dutch village of Bergen to retain its pre-Revolutionary War fabric. It lies on a largely undisturbed and undeveloped lot that conforms to the original layout of the 17th-century town plan.  The house was placed on the State Register of Historic Places in 2005 and on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. 

Archaeological investigations, performed in connection with a restoration project undertaken by the City of Jersey City, established the existence of a deep yard or midden deposit dating to the 18th and early 19th century around the building.Monitoring of construction activity resulted in the discovery of a cellar foundation from an earlier dwelling thought to date from the late 17th or early 18th centuries and to have most likely been a one-and-a-half-story stone structure. This discovery represented a significant contribution to our understanding of the early history and archaeology of Bergen village.The monitoring program also encountered remains of a stone-lined privy, a brick cistern and a third possible shaft feature of uncertain function, all probably of 18th-century date, as well as a lime slaking pit associated with the circa 1840 construction of the house’s southeast wing. Associated research on the history, topography and archaeological sensitivity of the area of the former Dutch colonial village of Bergen has emphasized the remarkable survival of the 17th-century Van Wagenen lot and its archaeology.