"Piazza" Document

The original copy of this document is with the Lawrence County Circuit Court records housed at the NorthEast Arkansas Regional Archives (NARA) in Powhatan Historic State Park. NARA is a division of the Arkansas History Commission (State Archives).

This hand written document appears to be a list of materials for a building project, along with costs. The final line of the document reads: “A Giffords amount against Jacob Garrett” next to the total cost for building materials, $192.45. It seems that either Gifford advanced Jacob Garrett the money for the materials or he purchased them, and he was to be reimbursed by Garrett. Jacob Garrett was a landowner at Davidsonville, and held a license to operate a tavern.

The word “piazza” is defined by architectural historian Hugh Morrison (1952:171) as follows, “The piazza may have been introduced from the West Indies, but it developed as a characteristic Charleston [South Carolina] form. Those of the colonial period were almost always of one story and were made of wood…the word ‘piazza’ first appears in local documents in 1700, and with frequency after 1750.”

While some eighteenth century courthouses in Virginia, for example, had piazzas (or arcades) as part of their design, Lounsbury (2005:122) notes that due to the expense, “the arcade never dominated courthouse architecture in colonial Virginia.” He also points out that structures with arcaded piazzas were almost always public buildings (Lounsbury 2005:108).

Unfortunately no descriptions of the Davidsonville courthouse have been found. There is no way to know if the structure described as a piazza was part of the courthouse or not. Similarly, we do not know if it was ever built, or what its function may have been. Could it have been related to the court, or was it a shelter for public assembly?

References Cited

  • Baines's Directory and Gazetteer Directory of 1822, Transcript of the Entry For "Professions and Trades" in Sheffield, England. Electronic document, http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/YKS/WRY/Sheffield/Sheffield22Dry.html, accessed April 25, 2012.
  • Jones, Olive R., 1986, Cylindrical English Wine & Beer Bottles 1735-1850. National Historic Parks and Sites Branch, Environment Canada---Parks, Ottawa, Canada.
  • Martin, Patrick E., 1977, An Inquiry into the Locations and Characteristics of Jacob Bright's Trading House and William Montgomery's Tavern. Research Series No. 11. Arkansas Archeological Survey, Fayetteville.
  • Mazrim, Robert, 2007, The Sangamo Frontier, History & Archaeology in the Shadow of Lincoln. The University of Chicago Press.
  • Noel Hume, Ivor, 1969, Pottery and Porcelain in Colonial Williamsburg's Archaeological Collections. Colonial Williamsburg Archaeological Series No. 2. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Virginia.
  • Pellicer I Bru, Josep, 1997, Glossary of Mintmasters And Assayers. Museo Casa de la Moneda (F.N.M.T.), Barcelona, Italy.