Welcome to Historic Sappington House…
…where a look into the past, may give a view into the future; a place where the imagination thrives.
The AIA student-learning service archaeological dig for high school students is held on the Historic Sappington House campus in Crestwood. It is not only a history-rich environment, but is lovely, pleasant, and relaxing. It is conducive to thinking, exploration and learning. It’s the setting for students to learn about archaeology in this 13 day learning experience, “…I didn’t know anything about archaeology. (It) was …(a) new experience.” Jessica, dig high school student in 2016.
The archaeological dig takes the students through layers of history in the earth, from the present, back to the early 1800s, when Thomas Sappington constructed his red brick house in 1808. Digging further back in time, there is potential to find artifacts of the Native American occupants of the South County area. A spring nearby was frequented by Native Americans.
The 13 day archaeological dig program focuses on historic archaeology, the history of the house and the Sappington family. The students are given tour by Sappington House docents which formally introduces them to the house. They see not only the house, but furnishings such as the Sappingtons might have had in the early 1800s. That includes furniture, household goods for kitchen and dining room, tapestries and clothing, and decorative pieces such as cross stitchings framed on the walls. They hear the stories of the house and family.
In the first year of the archaeological dig, summer 2016, the students found a ceramic remnant decorated with a pattern closely matching one of the dining plates in the house. This was an exciting find, one among many of course, but finding this piece closely resembling one in the house was especially exciting. One high school student program participant, Laura, said, “I really enjoyed… the dig because of what we found… and being able to experience this with professional archaeologists.”
As the students work further into the earth uncovering artifacts, the closeness to the history of the family in the house is very real. It tends to take the minds of the students back to the days of early pioneer settlement in this area and the times of the Native Americans. They were times of closeness to the land and the immediacy of making a living and providing for most of one’s needs with one’s own hands. According to one student participant, A.J., “I really got respect for the people during the time.”
The artifacts unearthed by the students over the past three years of the dig have added to the understanding of conditions and daily life for the Sappingtons in the early 1800s. Animal remains, broken pieces of cooking and serving implements, and food storage containers add to our understanding of daily life in a way that historical documents cannot. One of the students, Hannah, said, “It was just so cool to imagine that at one point all of these little fragments had been part of something much larger.”
Students may opt to extend their Summer archaeological dig experience by doing their own additional research. The time spent with hands-on work in the excavation, finding of artifacts, and realizing their connection to the history of the family, tends to bring up questions with the students. The dig experience stimulates the imagination to want to know more, which leads to a rich variety of topics to explore.
The combination of finding artifacts in the archaeological excavation and being on this historic site make for an extraordinary experience for the students, as the following quotes by students in the program express:
“I got to meet new people and experts about the science(s).” Evan
“(I) really had to get in there. It was a hands-on experience for me.” A.J.
“I’ve always wanted to go into a criminal justice field …so when this opportunity to come to the dig and do some archaeology arose, I …(thought)…that would be a really good experience…” Alexis
Below on this page is an introduction to Historic Sappington House and campus.
Sappington House campus – photos and map
Please join us on this brief pictorial tour of the Sappington House campus, home of the service learning high school student archaeological dig, and also home of the Barn restaurant, and the Library of Americana and Decorative Arts.
The Historic Sappington House was built in 1808 by Thomas Sappington. It passed out of Sappington hands in the late 1800’s. It fell into disrepair in the mid 20th century. It was purchased by the City of Crestwood in the 1960’s. Restoration was completed by 1966 and it opened to the public as an historic site. The building had not been much modified over the years. As it stands now, the house is pretty much as it was when originally constructed. The kitchen is the only major addition to the original structure that is known of.
The Barn restaurant was built after the restoration of the house. It was added to the campus to meet the needs of visitors to Historic Sappington House. It presently serves delicious country stye fare six days a week from breakfast time through lunch. https://www.crestwoodbarn.com
The Library of Americana and Decorative Arts was built to house the collection of research materials used during the restoration of the house.
The gardens at Sappington House feature of variety of annuals and perennials. There is also a small herb garden at one side of Sappington House. The rear garden features a sun dial. Out buildings clustered around the house include the resident manager’s cottage, a smoke house and out house. The Historic Sappington House campus is officially a Crestwood city park, so there are public bathrooms available. There is a small pond, picnic area and some outdoor events are held periodically including concerts, craft festival, weddings, and historical re-enactments.
The Library of Americana and Decorative Arts is a comfortable space for reading, research, and small meetings. It houses the books used by Mrs. McDonnell when she was researching furnishings for the house.
The pond on the Sappington House campus
Historic Sappington House and campus in the snow
The 50th anniversary of the Sappington House in 2016 celebrated the restoration of the house with a number of festive events and re-enactments
Go to other pages related to the Dig at Sappington House
The Dig Main Page – for the Archaeological Dig for high school students at Sappington House
The Dig in Photos – photos of the 2016-2018 digs
The Student Experience and Sappington House Campus with photos of the Sappington House campus and map
Sappington House Reference – background and research materials for the dig students
General Archaeology Reference – reference materials and web sites related to archaeology and history
Flier, Brochure, Registration – Dig flier and brochure to share with others. Dig registration form
The Archaeological Institute of America, St Louis Society (AIA-StL)
The Dig 2019 – Dig progress reports during the 2019 dig, May 30 – June 15
See Historic Sappington House on Facebook
See Sappington-Concord Historical Society (SCHS) on Facebook