|Gray Cottage in 1953.|
The exact date of the construction of Gray Cottage is unclear, though it is certain that it was built during the Croom years. It stands to the west of the Croom residence. It has two rooms, north and south. The areas underneath the current north room floor (which is higher than the south room floor) and adjacent to the foundation were excavated.
The wood floor of the cottage dates from the Tiers' years. Originally, the floor was a hard-packed clay. Underneath the wooden floor of the north room are two cistern-like structures made of brick and finished with plaster. It was these cistern-like structures that contributed to the theory that the building had originally served as a 'spring house.' It was found that they had never contained water, negating any possibility of use for cold storage. A large amount of charcoal was found in the area, particularly in the cistern-like structures. The cistern-like structures served as storage bins for the charcoal, however it is unclear if that was their original use. They may have served as a dry-storage bin perhaps for food products or other dry goods, which suggests that the north room was used as a storage or processing room of some sort.
The surprise find during the excavation was a hearth-like structure underneath the center of the north room, the walls of which have been hardened by heat. It is unknown which came first, the building or the hearth. The finding of this central hearth further negates the possibility of the building's use as a 'spring' or 'cooling room'.
Much is still a mystery, in great part due to the extensive renovations by Mrs. Tiers. She added and/or removed chimneys, windows, and flooring. She also cleared away much of the soil and debris that surrounded the structure. Margaret Hodges Hood also appears to have altered the structure, closing in the front porch (which was probably added by Mrs. Tiers) to provide space for a small kitchen. A bathroom was also added at some point. Today, the cottage serves as the office for the groundskeeper.