WASHINGTON (AFP) — US archaeologists believe they have found the long-sought childhood home of George Washington, the United States' first president, siting it close to Fredricksburg in the state of Virginia.
"This is it -- this is the site of the house where George Washington grew up," said David Muraca, director of archaeology for the George Washington Foundation, which owns the 110-acre (45-hectare) farm where the US leader apparently spent his formative years.
Archaeologists digging at the Ferry Farm site near Fredricksburg, 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of the federal capital, said Wednesday they had found cellars and foundations from the clapboard-covered house Washington lived in.
After extensive work, they conclude that contrary to popular belief, the house sited on the northern bank of the Rappahannock river in Stafford County was not a rustic cottage but a larger, one-and-a-half-story residence.
In another myth-busting find, they say a fire that broke out on Christmas Eve 1740 was small and localized, not the major disaster that historians believed had occurred.
"If the young George Washington did indeed chop down a cherry tree, as generations of Americans have believed, this is where it happened," said Philip Levy, associate professor of history at the University of South Florida.
He said that given the lack of documents about Washington's formative years, the discovery of his boyhood home provides a significant insight.
Levy said that a search of the house's four cellars revealed thousands of objects, including parts of the ceiling and the painted walls as well as ceramic and pottery shards.
The team was particularly interested in a broken chimney flue they found that is typical of the mid-18th century when Washington lived at the house. On it, they found a Masonic symbol -- Washington joined the Fredricksburg Masonic Lodge in 1753.
Born February 22, 1732, Washington was head of the Continental Army during the American War of Independence and became the first president of the United States in 1789. He died on December 14, 1799, two years after leaving office.
The excavation work is funded notably by the state of Virginia, the National Geographic Society and the Dominion Foundation.
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