Archeological Dig in Long Island Tells Story of Town’s First Black Landowner

Archeologists in Huntington, a town located on a north shore of Long Island, are digging to find artifacts related to the town’s first Black landowner.

The dig was prompted after the town board removed the historic designation from the Peter Crippen House in 2017 due to  its deteriorated condition. The house was owned by Peter Crippen, a Black freeman who came to Huntington in the 1830s from Virginia. Crippen purchased the house in 1864, and it stayed in the Crippen family until 2019, when the town finalized its purchase of the property. Huntington plans to use the property as extra parking for the Huntington Wastewater Treatment Plant.

While the house cannot be saved, archeologists hope to preserve the story of Peter Crippen through objects found while digging on the property. “We have some glass in here, also a bottle of Vaseline. So, it’s really exciting to find this material and make connections with the people who lived here,” archeologist Allison McGovern told CBS New York.

The dig was funded by an $8,500 donation from the Manes Peace Prize Foundation. The town board has also applied for a $4,000 grant from the New York Preservation League to determine if any part of the house can be preserved for reconstruction at another site.