Skip to main content

Evidence of a Dry Well Hoist

Evidence of a Dry Well Hoist

While performing excavations in the Mansion cellar, the Archaeological team uncovered evidence of two historic postholes, found in proximity to the dry well located directly beneath the New Room. A large cylindrical pit, the 22-foot-deep dry well was built to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the year, allowing for the storage of ice harvested from the Potomac River by enslaved workers.

It’s believed that the two postholes were likely part of a winch or support system. This support system might have been used during the dry well’s construction, as a means of hoisting dirt, but it probably served a second purpose—loading and unloading ice into the well.

Above: Archaeology Technician Olivia Larson documents a posthole feature next to the dry well (protective wood housing on the left) in the Mansion cellar. (MVLA)

Mansion Revitalization Blog

Follow along as we post updates and discoveries from the landmark Mansion Revitalization Project.

Learn more