Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hello, everyone! I hope the new year has been treating you well. The Cultural Resources Team at Virgin Islands National Park has accomplished some very interesting things since the last blog. First, Ken and Susanna are now Rescue Diver certified (re-certified in Ken’s case). I opened up the Cinnamon Bay lab during their training and talked with the beach-goers while cataloguing artifacts. The following day (last Friday), Ken and I visited the Lameshur site with Sean Krigger, an architectural historian from the Virgin Islands State Historic Preservation Office, and RandyBrown, Director of the Virgin Islands Environmental Research Station (VIERS). Randy would like to restore some of the historic Lameshur plantation buildings for use as classrooms and exhibit space. The restoration as well as the regular maintenance needed when the buildings are in use will undoubtedly help to preserve them for future generations. However, the restoration must be done with historic accuracy in mind so that the buildings are preserved looking as close to what they originally looked like as possible. This requires buying period-accurate hinges for windows and doors as well as having the windows and doors be constructed in a suitable style and painted with a special paint in an appropriate color (see the painting of Lameshur dated to about 1840’s in the blog archive (May)). I learned that lime mortar and silicate paint are the preferred materials for repairing and painting historic walls because they are water permeable. Therefore, when historic bricks soak up ground water, the water will not be trapped within the wall and disintegrate the bricks but will diffuse through the mortar and paint and eventually evaporate. Sean advised Randy on the modifications that are and aren’t allowed and what types of restorations are preferred. Next, plans will be drawn up and work can ideally start within the year. Ken offered to help as much as he could when the actual construction started, he used to be a brick layer.
This Tuesday, I came in and the Team mapped a large portion of the excavation site at Cinnamon Bay. Susanna cleaned the kitchen surface and measured object dimensions (rocks, mortar, brick, shell, glass, and metal) and I drew the map on graph paper (see picture above). I gave a tour in the afternoon, but it wasn’t the best ever. I hope that with practice I’ll get more familiar with the subject material and be more comfortable speaking to an audience about it. A snorkel survey of the beach in the late afternoon recovered many remains and artifacts likely uncovered by the recent Northern swells (we’ll have to investigate it further after the mapping is finished). The old tree we often used as a reference point finally fell over with this last swell. Well, until next time everyone and feel free to post comments and/or questions. We love to hear from our readers!


Anonymous said...

Any news on the caves?

NPS Intern said...

No, the caves have not been revisited. We just got our new gps yesterday and are learning now to use it. Perhaps you could come volunteer ?