An archaelogical dig on the site of the Crippen House has begun yielding some artifacts in an effort to reclaim the history of a 19th-Century African American resident of Huntington.
While the house on Creek Road is severely dilapidated, archaeologists have found several items in their test of the backyard, mostly pieces of ceramic or glass, that they hope will shed light on the life of the formerly enslaved man who lived in Huntington during the mid-1800s.
At a press conference Friday morning, town officials, members of the African-American Historic Designation Council and othes spoke about the significance of the property and noted that, among other contributions, Crippen was one of the founders of the church that became Bethel AME Church.
Irene Moore, chair of the historic council, said, “The Crippen family owned this house for more than 150 years and Crippen was an activist in the community. It’s important that we preserve this and I’m glad to be part of it.”
Crippen had come from Virginia to Huntington to work in the 1830s, and bought the house in 1864.
The house was designated a landmark in 2008, but lost that status in 2017 when Crippen’s descendants want to sell it. The town closed on its purchase of the property in 2019, planning to demolish the deteriorated home and toward turn the space into a parking lot.
But in September, the Town Board responded to community opposition to tearing down the house and accepted an $8,500 donation from the Manes Peace Prize Foundation to conduct an archaeological study at the site. They are hoping to receive a $4,000 grant from the Preservation League of New York State to do further work.
Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci and Town Councilwoman Joan Cergol, as well as the Rev. Larry Jennings of Bethel AME Church spoke about the need to try to recover a piece of history about African Americans, who have been in Huntington since the 17th Century.
Councilman Ed Smyth said he plans to try to rename Creek Road to Crippen Road.
Town Historian Robert Hughes said that difficulties with paperwork because of a lack of a deed for the property had slowed the purchase of the property and during that time, the house had deteriorated. But he said it was important to try African American history which “has been too often overlooked.”
Now the town plans to place a historical marker on the property and take steps to save what it can of its history, including examining again whether the house can be preserved in any way.
Town of Huntington historian Robert Hughes