What was everyday life like for merchants living in town?
The structure on the left is the Godet House located on Kerkweeg in Oranjestad, St. Eustatius. It is slated for renovation through the Historic Core Restoration Program.
As the initial fieldwork phase prior to restoration activities, two undergraduate student assistants and Grant Gilmore of S.E.C.A.R. conducted a geophysical survey of the Godet property in Oranjestad. The work was completed between March 30 and April 27, 2000 utilizing a fluxgate gradiometer and a resistivity meter owned by the Institute of Archaeology at the University College London. The objective of this survey was to locate potential archaeologically significant areas on the property that may be adversely impacted by forthcoming restoration activities. As a result of this work a possible colonial trash midden (refuse disposal area) was identified south of the house.
The Godet property was first recorded in a general archaeological assessment of the island begun by Norman Barka in 1981 and finished by John Eastman in 1996. The Godet House is located on 0.45 hectares (1.10 acres) of land on Kerkveeg in Oranjestad. Private residences occupy lots to the north and south of the property. Outbuildings occupy all parts of the yard except the side yard bordering the property to the south.
The current house was likely constructed during the first quarter of the 20th century although some architectural elements from previous structures are incorporated in the building. The foundation likely dates to the 18th century. Outbuildings including the kitchen, outhouse and hurricane shelter were also likely constructed during the 1700s. The current domestic dwelling served as the residence for government administrators between 1920 and 1970 according to Kenneth van Putten and the current occupant Mr. Godet. An in-depth archival survey in the Algemeen Rijksarchief (Royal Dutch Archives) in The Hague, Netherlands would likely reveal additional historical facts regarding the property.
During the autumn the second phase of archaeological work on the site will begin. A three-meter by two-meter area will be excavated through the midden to obtain a more accurate sample of artifacts related to past residents on the property.
It is through a combination of both archaeological and documentary evidence the complexities and richness of colonial life on St. Eustatius can be reconstructed. Through this work, a better understanding of the economic status and possibly the occupation of the former residents of the Godet property may be obtained. In addition, it is likely that the diet of 18th century occupants may be reconstructed adding substantially to our knowledge of colonial life and cultural in a merchant economy such as that found on St. Eustatius.