Bone Collector: I see dead things   1 comment

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Bone Collector: I see dead things

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The restoration of the 1777 Atchley Farmstead by DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS yielded an abundance of buried artifacts including some old bones.

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It is likely the construction materials for the center section (and oldest part of the Hendrickson/ Atchely Farmhouse) were hand made on site.  A Flemish bond brick was used for the center core and the uneven sizes and shapes indicate a hand-made brick.   Excavations at the site during construction revealed some oyster shells; often used in the making of lime for mortar in the 18th and 19th century.  Also, discovered were a variety of medicine, shoe polish, spice and other bottles as well as an old shoe from the early 1900’s.

Helping DKA with the archaeological dig was veteran bone collector, Victor Garcia, of Cuautitian Izcalli Edo De Mexico (literally a town so small it is named “the house between the trees”).  Although there are two actual graves on the site of this farm, the bone fragments discovered were identified by Victor as animal bones which were probably dressed on site for soup and then discarded.  Victor discovered many human bones while digging in Mexico.  Sometimes the bones were the remains of bodies (buried  in the fetal position) in clay vessels.

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Over 70 artifacts were recovered from the ground during the historic restoration of this house which was once part of a 134 acre working farmstead.   Some of these items can be seen on the table in front of the fireplace.  The preservation of this exterior of the house followed the Secretary of the Interior Preservation Guidelines for Restoration to a period.  Therefore, all twentieth century additions to the house were removed to restore the house to its appearance in the late 1800’s.

The condition of the property was poor when Dennis Kowal Architects began.   Many structural members were replaced, the toppling brick chimneys were replaced with the original brick, missing windows were fabricated to the exact profiles of the original, and a new metal roof, copper gutters and wood eaves were crafted.

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The restoration was provided by Lewis-Graham Inc. under the supervision of and Dennis Kowal Architects for the Opus Development Corporation.  All of the artifacts and a detailed field report will be presented by pre-arrangement to the Archaeological Department of the New Jersey State Museum.

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DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS preserves the past with dignity and passion.

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One response to “Bone Collector: I see dead things

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  1. Great post – enjoyable read!

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