Standing in front of the historic farmhouse on Barretts Mill Lane, it does not seem like much is going on. Walk around the back of Col. James Barrett’s former house, however, and step underneath the scaffolding and tarps. The extent of the work being orchestrated by Save Our Heritage (SOH) and performed by Traditional Framers instantly becomes apparent. Since receiving an additional $200,000 from Community Preservation Act funds this year, work has continued to restore the house that represents a pivotal and early point in the American Revolution. This Sunday, June 3, the public has been invited to view the historical preservations efforts.
Standing in front of the historic farmhouse on Barretts Mill Lane, it does not seem like much is going on.
Walk around the back of Col. James Barrett’s former house, however, and step underneath the scaffolding and tarps. The extent of the work being orchestrated by Save Our Heritage (SOH) and performed by Traditional Framers instantly becomes apparent.
Since receiving an additional $200,000 from Community Preservation Act funds this year, work has continued to restore the house that represents a pivotal and early point in the American Revolution.
This Sunday, June 3, the public has been invited to view the historical preservations efforts.
After the British feverishly searched the residence for hidden weapons, Barrett’s wife acted as a decoy and served the enemy’s army breakfast on April 19, 1775. All the while, the minutemen had time to assemble and march to the Old North Bridge.
Since the American Revolution, Barrett’s farmhouse remains structurally unchanged. Only one other family has inhabited the house before SOH gained possession of the building in November 2005.
Because it is still very much the same as when the British climbed the front stairs, the house will most likely become the utmost accurate living museum.
There is still a lot of work to be done, but along the way, archaeologists and historical enthusiasts have uncovered many artifacts and clues, said Rick Detwiller, an architect and preservation planner.
Christa Beranek, a student in Boston University’s Department of Archaeology, has been spearheading the effort to recover artifacts, said Detwiller.
The basic 18th-century house, given its lack of upkeep, is still much intact and features original flooring, doors and hardware, fireplaces and stairways. So far, historic shoes have been found in between walls, said Detwiller, as well as a nearly intact lock belonging to the muster room.
Archaeologists on site have used instruments such as conductivity poles, said Detwiller, which is a “ground penetrating radar” signaling where to dig around the house for clues. Other clues, such as divots in the concrete steps on the side of the house, have proven to be where iron foot scrapers were attached, said Detwiller.
Deep inside a cupboard within a closet, was a ceramic mug “broken, but it still had the handle,” he said.
Other historical information, such as soil makeup and rock composition, will also be brought back to the archaeologists’ lab for further examination.
Restoring a historic house, besides the structural obstacles, has also proven difficult for collecting and saving artifacts.
“If you can’t prove it wasn’t something, you don’t destroy it,” said Project Manager Jim Cunningham.
In the end, the team commissioned by SOH will work to save and re-incorporate back into the structure “what will be appropriate and is safe” from the American Revolution, said Cunningham.
The restoration crew has worked throughout the cold winter months and will continue to work through the hot, hazy days of summer. So far, the back wall of the house, which was literally hanging from the roof, has been removed and a new hand-hewn white oak sill has been put in place to stabilize the wall.
Traditional Framers is continually working to re-stabilize and secure the rest of the structure’s frame and joints. The company saws and finishes white oak logs by hand in an English-scribe style to accurately replicate the house’s original construction.
It will cost almost $1.5 million to recreate the house.
To fund the project, SOH has taken advantage of a variety of funding sources. In addition to CPA funds, the project received a $50,000 challenge grant from a descendent of the Barrett’s family and also received a federal grant from Save America’s Treasures for $220,000.
An archaeologist will be on site to answer questions. Several spots have been dug up to reveal important historical remnants, such as the front stairway, which contains three generations of materials. Items will also be on display.
Detwiller will also be available on site to explain historical clues the team has uncovered in the house, such as century-old creosote around the fireplace and original wall paint covered by layers of later decorative decisions.
Cunningham previously said the total restoration will take almost three years. At the end of all their efforts, the organization would like the site to become a part of Minute Man National Historical Park. The site has received approval from the U.S. Senate to be included in the national park, and President Bush must sign off on the inclusion.
The Col. Barrett’s restoration site will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 3. The house is located on Barretts Mill Road.
Kerri Roche can be reached at email@example.com or978-371-5796.