Last week I wrote about a day I spent at the 18th & 19th century joiner/carpenter’s shop that was recently found. It wasn’t really missing, but it took a trained eye to see it for what it was. It has been a long time since I’ve been involved in that kind of research, I used to tag along with Plimoth’s historic carpenters to study old buildings whenever I had the chance.
This day reminded me of some of the best things about museum work. Among the crew that day were folks from Colonial Williamsburg, the University of Delaware/Winterthur and others. The building was first identified as something significant by my friend and colleague Michael Burrey, formerly of Plimoth, but for ages out on his own as an historic restoration carpenter.
Jeff Klee of Colonial Williamsburg sent me his very nice photos of the shop. Have a look. This building is of major significance, and its story will be told at some point, but for now it’s time to record it and assess its future.
For me, the highlight was to be reconnected with some of the core ideas behind museum research in this sort of field. I got quite a charge out of it, in the sense that it brought back the fun and excitement I felt back when I was new to museum work in the mid-1990s, making field trips to record all kinds of evidence of what happened, way back when. I’ve been away from research for a while, and it was exciting to get involved again. It makes my work in the shop and with the museum’s visitors better.
Back in my shop, I have been looking closely at the evidence I have left over 19 years, wondering if people would ever be able to tell – “he kept his hatchet here, chisels there…” etc. What we are trying to do in this shop is to read signs on the wind really…but it’s fun just the same.
Thanks to the involved parties for including me.