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Help us Furnish the Forgeman’s House with Everyday Treasures


The Everyday Treasures project for the Forgeman’s House is a crowd-sourced initiative to procure commonplace fixtures and fittings to give the 19th-century house an appropriately historical look and feel.  We need everyday objects of ordinary people, not the kind you see in museums or on Antiques Roadshow.  This is based on the 30,000+ artifacts found during archaeological excavations that preceded the restoration. 

The point of staying in the Forgeman’s House is to evoke the experience of a 19th-century furnace worker’s family.  They were neither rich nor famous—in fact, we don’t even know their names.  What we do know about them comes almost entirely from the “trash” that they discarded beneath the floorboards of their home.  We need your help transforming this trash into historical treasure.

These objects provide a glimpse into the everyday life of an early 19th-century family living in this house and working in Catoctin Furnace.  We will be displaying photographs of the most interesting of the artifacts along with background information about the discovery and interpretation of these objects.  We are seeking your help finding inexpensive examples of the equivalent historical objects from junk shops or antique stores where possible, or historically accurate reproductions if necessary, and display them as examples of the broken and discarded objects that were found beneath the floorboards of the house.  This juxtaposition of the fragmentary objects discovered right under the floorboards with the whole, original vessels or historically accurate reproductions will give the visitor a heightened sense of the history surrounding them in this early 19th century dwelling.

In the main hall of the house, we restored the open-shelf kitchen cupboard that was originally a part of the house.  This was the working kitchen area for the family who lived there, who used the big open fireplace to cook their meals, heat water for their baths, and provide warmth throughout the cold winter nights.  We will use these shelves to display the types of domestic furnishings that the families who lived there would have used.    

We have a wide variety of objects that were excavated from under the floorboards to choose from, including kitchen supplies such as plates, cups, saucers, pitchers, crocks, and silverware; domestic furnishings such as lamps, wooden boxes, and match books; 19th-century fabrics and clothing such as bonnets, dresses, work shirts, and pants; and historic toys and games.  A number of the artifacts are toys–jacks, marbles, harmonica—which we think will be particularly appealing for children staying at the house.  We are filling a toy box underneath the shelves that children can help themselves to and learn to play old-fashioned games (these should be reproductions). 

Supplementing the display will be a binder with photographs and more detailed information about the historic use and function of the most interesting artifacts, the history of the furnace and its workforce, and everyday life in the village.  We also have a number of artifacts that we have been unable to identify, and we are hoping that our visitors will help us crowd-source some answers to these mysteries (similar to a scavenger hunt through time).

Please click here and take a look at the photographs and let us know if you have any objects that can become part of the Forgeman’s House Everyday Treasures display.  If you can help supply any items that you think may be appropriate, call us at 443-463-6437.