Historical Perspectives, Inc. has produced a report for the Committee to Save the Bird Homestead on the findings of an archeological study conducted at the historic Meeting House on Milton Road.
Historical Perspectives, Inc. has produced a report for the Committee to Save the Bird Homestead on the findings of an archeological study conducted at the historic Meeting House on Milton Road. Sara Mascia, Ph.D. led a team of three archeologists who excavated test trenches by hand. They documented their fieldwork with drawings, photographs, measurements, and notes on soil variations. The team catalogued everything recovered on site.
The array of domestic artifacts surprised the archeologists, since the Meeting House was always an institutional building, never a residence. A vacant schoolhouse was moved to the location in 1867 by a member of the Christ’s Church Vestry and used as a Sunday school. Over the next decade a series of additions transformed it into an Episcopal chapel. Adding north and south transepts created an interior cruciform plan. Starting in 1875, a side addition housed a library. Two years later, the distinctive bell tower was built in front of the original entrance, producing the asymmetrical façade seen today. In 1959, the Religious Society of Friends purchased the building for use as a Meeting House. Yet the archeologists uncovered many fragments of household ceramics and other domestic items.
The age of many of these artifacts was equally unexpected. A number were from the early 19th century, predating the year 1867, when the original schoolhouse arrived on the property. Nineteenth-century maps show that there were two other dwellings and an inn on the property, which are no longer standing. One house is labeled with the name John Gedney, a merchant. The other two buildings are labeled with the name William Voris, who was an African-American innkeeper. Mascia speculates that the domestic artifacts may be “yard scatter” from these lost structures.
“This is part of a long-term plan for extensive archeological investigation on the Meeting House and Bird Homestead properties,” said Anne Stillman, president of the Bird Homestead non-profit. “We are also honoring the work of Junius Bird, an internationally renowned archeologist, who excavated important sites from the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego.”