February 17, 2007


Window into Puritan life: Renovation of 1648 house offers a look at settlers' everyday lives (Brian MacQuarrie, February 17, 2007, Boston Globe)

"This is a window of opportunity that we have here right now," said city archeologist Ellen Berkland, who is live-in curator at the house in Edward Everett Square. "It will be sealed up soon with new shingles, and we won't be able to get to it for another 100 years."

What they have found at the house, built about 1648, is a hardy oak frame, hand-hewn beams and boards, hand-forged nails, and meticulous construction that has withstood the withering test of time. The restoration crew also has found wooden braces in hidden, unexpected places among long-concealed timbers, human hair in the wattle and daub, and a smattering of buttons, badges, and textiles.

"This is very cool," said Jerry Eide, a preservation contractor, as he inspected part of the exposed skeleton of the house. "I'm learning new things every day."

Indeed, Eide said that the quality of wood, with its hard texture and straight grain, is superior to much of today's building materials.

"The saving grace is that they overbuilt," said John Goff, a preservation consultant who studied the Blake House in preparation for the project. "It could easily last 1,000 years if it's maintained properly."

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 17, 2007 12:06 AM

Want to hear a good Puritan Story? This is one of my distant relatives:

"Sarah French was brought into court 30 Sept. 1656 by Sgt. French to accuse Hackaliah Bridges of getting her pregnant, but he was discharged; then John Fargison and Sarah, both of Ipswich, were sentenced to be whipped for "uncleanness together", he was also in trouble for stealing from his master and lying. He was probably one of the Scot prisoners of Dunbar or Worcester. Both then disappear from the record. She must have died before 1680 since she was not named in her father`s will of that year, unless she had been disowned." [FFA Chart 1]

Yep, not only can I lay claim to being from the original founders, but, the earliest recorded history of white trash.

Posted by: AllenS at February 17, 2007 12:29 PM

Sure the building they "overbuilt" lasted several centuries. The ones they "underbuilt" or even "built to code" are long gone, so all we get to see is the extreme end of the distribution. Unless an object gets accidentally perserved in a disaster, or deliberately preserved by being hidden away, that's they way of all antiques. The stuff that was used gets used up, as it was intended to be.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at February 18, 2007 12:25 PM