19th century pipe discovered during coach house wall dig
At least one of the workers who helped erect the stone wall around the coach house building at the Auchmar estate enjoyed smoking tobacco in a clay pipe.
That’s one of the theories being offered after an old pipe was found during excavation work along the wall that begins near the main entrance on Fennell Avenue near West 5th and then winds around the coach house building on the east side of the property.
“It was in good condition,” said Therese Charbonneau, senior conservator with the City of Hamilton, of the approximately eight inch long clay-fired pipe. “It dated to the date of the wall, 1850 to 1860.”
Shards of pottery and glass were also found.
Charbonneau said clay pipes like the one found were common in that era.
“It’s an interesting find,” she said. “I wouldn’t say it was a significant find.”
The pipe was found by crews doing wall stabilization prep work for Historic Horizon.
Charbonneau noted the Toronto architectural firm will examine and catalogue the pipe before turning it over to the city.
Charbonneau said four to six pits, about three feet deep, were dug at the base of the wall to see how deep the wall went and to determine the stability of the foundation.
She noted the foundation, about three feet down, remains in good condition while other parts of the wall are leaning or have collapsed.
“The earth here is very clayish, a lot of the mortar was missing,” said Charbonneau, who noted some of the wall mortar has turned into sand over time.
The city is planning to spend $800,000 to restore the 12-foot high, 240-foot long wall starting next spring and Charbonneau said they are considering three options.
They could take the wall apart and rebuild it.
“When they take it apart, they take all the stones, number them, they go back in exactly the same place and all remortared,” Charbonneau said.
Another option is to erect a series of stone buttresses along the wall to re-enforce it and a third option is to drill a series of holes through the top of the wall to the base and install stainless steel rods surrounded by an adhesive to bind the stones together.
“It’s being used in significant heritage sites in the world,” said Charbonneau of the third option. “It’s a really cool engineering solution so you don’t have to look at anything extra on the outside.”
Charbonneau said city staff will be consulting with engineering officials and the Ontario Heritage Trust, which has a conservation easement on the site, over the next couple of weeks before choosing which restoration method to go with.