Friday, January 25, 2013

Fieldwork Begins at the Wyatt Farm

CHADsters and me

Yesterday, a very frigid day in New Jersey, I and my fieldwork assistants from the University of Delaware Center for Historic Architecture and Design began work at the Wyatt Farm. Considering the warming trends of late, this week has been especially cold with temps in the low 20s (-7 to -3 Celsius for my Canadian friends). The names of these intrepid folks deserve mention: (from left) Keisha Gonzalez, Alex Tarantino, Virginia Davidowski, Alex Till, Melissa Blair, Cate Morrissey, Michael Emmons, Prof. Rebecca Sheppard, and me.

We split into three crews of three and measured the footprints of the house, barn and granary. Becky Sheppard's brave crew stayed out all day working on the granary, while the rest of us moved inside the house and worked on basement and first floor plans.

Granary/Corn Crib/Wagon House

According to Becky Sheppard, who has studied agricultural buildings all over Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, this granary (which means a building used to store grain), or corn crib/wagon house (because it has two corn cribs built in and two drive-through bays), is unusual (by comparison to those areas) in that it has a cellar. A key question is, why? What was it used for? Suzanne Culver, who grew up here, says that in her lifetime, it was used for storing seed potatoes. Was that its use from the time it was built? Why is it constructed of stone, not brick? Indeed, what was grown on this farm over the many decades of its existence? Research is needed to tie this building with agricultural production records for this farm over time.

The foundation of the house is stone, so perhaps the granary dates from the time of the house, but when was that? Suzanne's mother remembers a date in the wall of the basement, "1788." We could not find this evidence, so it may have gotten covered by a layer of mortar applied in 1963 (so thoughtfully documented by the children of the house, who recorded their names and ages in the wall under the kitchen fireplace). I think the house is certainly as early as 1788, but more likely earlier. In any event , it has a curious evolution that our drawings will help us figure out.

Frozen toes drove the CHAD folks back into their cars at 3 PM and back across the river, heater on full blast.

Next week...back to the Wyatt House. Hopefully it will be a warmer day.

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