Shell-encrusted house at the Liverpool Landing Site
Shell house, Liverpool, Illiniois
In 1997, archaeologists performed an excavation at the Liverpool, Illinois Landing Site in Fulton County, Illinois. They recovered shell artifacts from an unusual twentieth-century house (today known only from photographs) that was extensively decorated with large mussel shells attached to the exterior walls. Nail-perforated mussel shells (recovered from a postmold) are the only remains of the decorative siding once attached to the historic structure that formerly stood on dry land on the site. Many shells were partially filled with mortar and nailed to the structure with their dark surfaces facing out. Others were pressed into the mortar with their white inner surfaces showing. The house represented an idiosyncratic and highly personalized example of vernacular architecture in a small river town. It was reportedly occupied by a man named Sam Meyers from the 1920s to about 1950. Meyers has been described by local residents as an eccentric beachcomber or bootlegger who shared his house with goats.