More on the Archaeological Dig at the Bellevue Estate

Last week, we posted a link to the Tradewinds article on the initial archaeological survey work being undertaken at Bellevue, along with some important  background information as to the Historical Society and the St. John Community Foundation’s  objectives.  That posting can be viewed here.   On August 3rd, Tradewinds provided a follow-up to the initial reporting and we link that latest  article here.

Further Background While Alan Armstrong’s work this summer was the beginning of a proposed four to five year comprehensive study program involving Bellevue, from the Society’s perspective, the primary significance of this summer’s effort was focused on the suitability of the site proposed  for our ‘Cultural and Historical Resource Center’ building.

In a recently executed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between  the Historical Society and the St. John Community Foundation, a tentative site was agreed upon.  However, its location was contingent upon this summer’s archaeological survey work.   The MOU  provided that if the survey should reveal the presence of “significant archaeological resources”, or that construction at the site would have a “detrimental effect on the historic fabric of the nearby historic resources” then the Society’s building was to be relocated.

We must now await Alan’s  final written report and  recommendations.  He  has promised to provide us with the results of his survey within the next month and will, at the same time,  share this information with the State Historic Preservation office (SHPO).  Ultimately, it is SHPO which has the authority to grant us permission to proceed. Clearly, this is a huge and critical step forward for the Society in realizing its dream of a home!

We extend our thanks to Tradewinds for reporting on the project and allowing us to link to these articles.

Society Staff


  1. James Fitzgerald Says: June 2, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    In 1970 I was there on Saint John island as a safety diver in the Tektite 2 project. During my time there I had done some exploring around the ruins of the Great House overlooking a bay West of Great Lamshur Bay. It may have been overlooking
    reef Bay. I had found a small basement like area under the foundation on the right side if looking at the house from the bay side. In this basement like storage area there was a child’s size unused casket. This casket was made of light colored slats of wood and appeared to have symbols or numbers wood-burned into one near the head area of the lid. The most narrow width of the casket was at the foot end and the widest width was at the shoulder area with the head area being slightly more narrow.
    There were still remnants of an off-white cloth where it had been attached on the inner perimeter of the lid and also around the inside wall of the main body of the casket. Research I had done years later pointed to it being referred to as a toe pincher design and had probably been made from the mid to late 1800s or the very early 1900s. I have been haunted by this for all these years. My wife and I recently made a trip back to Saint John and I tried to get answers to questions I had about these ruins but failed. I spoke with every older islander I came across but none of them knew much more about the ruins than I did. I’m sure the extreme remoteness of the site has a lot to do with it. Do you have any history on the site and past inhabitants that would explain why a family would buy a child size casket then not use it. I would truly appreciate any details you may have.
    Best regards,
    James Fitzgerald

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