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We're in the Basement by Gary N. Costello

posted Apr 23, 2012, 11:38 AM by Pamela Davison

The Patriot, Volume 5, Issue 3  – September 2011

Being in the basement typically is not a good thing – at least if you are a baseball team.  But in our case, we are thrilled to be there.  Restoration work on the Hull house has progressed down to the cellar of the dwelling.  Although hampered by a serious lack of funding to  accomplish this work, we have made significant progress through close oversight from our preservation architects - Crawford &  Stearns – and the use of a 'few good volunteers'.

The first step was taken some many months ago with the removal of all the old, deteriorated wood flooring from the main kitchen area.  Most was not original to the house.  A few of the earliest wide boards will be re-used.  Also removed was the later cement slab that formed the floor in what will be the scullery (the kitchen/cooking clean up area).

The next step was to dig and pour several cement footers that will support the new wood plank walls built to conform to the wall configuration that was there in the  original cellar kitchen.

Prior to any digging, archeological study of the area was conducted by the University at Buffalo Department of Anthropology.  And as work has progressed, any soil removed while digging footers has been meticulously screened for artifacts.  What has turned up consists of dozens of glass fragments; much animal bone; perhaps dozens pieces of what appears to be pieces of shoe leather; and a number of pieces of ceramic pottery and other earthen ware.

 One of the most exciting finds was seven pieces of  Staffordshire pearlware that, once reassembled, formed a complete 6” plate (see photo)  Another fun find was a small clay pipe bowl, discovered at the bottom of the cistern by intrepid explorer Bernadette Tomaselli.

Once the plank walls were back in place, work began on creating a grid work of floor joists that will support the hot water radiant heating network to be installed under the floor, and that will also support the wide pine plank floor that our visitors will eventually walk upon.    

Once the main kitchen area is complete – floor; heating; plaster repair; and paint - work will continue in the other 3 rooms of the cellar – the scullery, the larder (or storage room) and the mechanical room that will house our electrical, heating and water requirements.  This room will also serve as a coffee room 'retreat' for our docents and staff.

These are exciting times as we dig our way through to the past – and the vision becomes more vivid and the possibilities more real.  The cooks are out gather provisions already!