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Dogtown Historic and Archaeological District National Register Form Final


Public Archaeology Laboratory 

Massachusetts Cultural Resources Information System


Area Form

Dogtown is a large, complex area with diverse cultural and natural resources. This Area Form, which was initiated as part of the Essex County Heritage Landscape Inventory, addresses this important regional landscape, which was identified as a priority heritage landscape by community participants in both Gloucester and Rockport. Two key assumptions were made in the preparation of the form. The first is that this is a cultural landscape approach that focuses on land use patterns and aboveground resources rather than archaeological resources. The second is that a primary purpose is to provide an overview that can serve as a resource for the communities and for future scholars who may wish to undertake a more thorough and systematic study of Dogtown, particularly its archaeological resources. As Dogtown consists of rough terrain and is largely forested, cultural resources are difficult to identify and evaluate in the field. A professional archaeological survey of the area is needed to verify the locations and determine the condition of the 40 house sites, three mill sites and other resources associated with the Commons Settlement and to determine an appropriate National Register boundary. Conceptually the cultural resources of Dogtown can be viewed as three concentric circles. The inner circle includes the remains of the Colonial period Commons Settlement, an area of roughly 100 acres that is a significant archaeological resource, which has never been the subject of a thorough professional investigation. The middle circle, which includes the Commons Settlement as well as the surrounding area, is the roughly 1,600-acre publicly-owned part of Dogtown that is the subject of this Area Form. This boundary was selected because of the concentration of historic resources, as well as its public ownership (which allows easy access) and the fact that it is a clearly defined area. The outer circle, for which the boundaries are not well defined, encompasses an additional 1,400 acres of undeveloped primarily private land in the central part of Cape Ann that is vulnerable to change. Thus the total area that could be considered Dogtown today is approximately 3,000 acres, of which only 1,600 acres is addressed in this Area Form. While the resources outside the public land are not included here due to the difficulty of defining the boundaries of such a large area and gaining access, they reflect many of the same historical themes and types of resources as the publicly-owned land. 



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