The oldest woodworking shop in America has been discovered virtually untouched in Duxbury, Massachusetts. The extremely rare find reveals an 18th century joiner’s shop with the date ‘1789’ painted in the rafters. University of Delaware professor Ritchie Garrison came upon the historic structure on the site of a preschool, bringing several experts out to verify its age. Craftsmen used the shed to create intricate woodwork.
Though the preschool had been using the woodworking shop for storage, not realizing its historic value, it’s still in remarkably good shape. The woodworking benches and tables are still in excellent condition. According to Garrison, the shop is filled with clues as to how it was used. Some benches were covered in paint while others bear saw marks, testifying to the variety of tasks that were performed there.
Evidence of a removed fireplace makes it clear that the woodworkers were doing tasks that required warmth, like using glue. The type of glue used during that time had to be heated to a certain temperature. Bill Flynt, a former colleague of Garrison, tested the wood of the shop and found that it is second- or third-generation wood, meaning that New Englanders had already cut down and replanted lots of trees by that time.
While reports don’t identify the type of wood used, it’s highly possible that some of it is Eastern White Pine, which was heavily in use at the time in Massachusetts. Growing all over New England, Eastern White Pine has a long history in early American architecture, furniture and other types of construction.