Posts Tagged ‘Armoury’
January 28, 2013
Archaeologists at the Armoury site wrapped up their 2012 season with some expected — and some unexpected — finds. From a fence line and a saw pit to unexplained burials, catch up on what was discovered and what it all might mean.
Listen to this week’s podcast.
Visit the Armoury blog.
August 6, 2012
In earlier blog entries, we introduced Virtual Williamsburg and the digital reconstruction of the armoury property happening at the same time we are physically rebuilding the site. The previous posts showed the first stage of modeling, or research models in which the buildings are recreated as accurately as possible. We are now working on the second stage in which we apply textures and lighting to make the computer models look as realistic as possible.
So why create a photo-realistic digital model when the physical site is being reconstructed? As we discussed in a previous post, one important use of digital modeling is as a research tool: we have been able to assess different hypotheses suggested by the evidence prior to physically rebuilding a structure. Visualizing the buildings as well as the 18th-century terrain—which is harder to physically recreate today—has been especially valuable for understanding the relationship between the kitchen, armoury, and tin shop, all constructed side by side by side. The digital model, however, also has applications for visualizing the site even after the physical reconstruction has been completed. The virtual world can never replace the onsite experience, but spaces or particular viewpoints that might not be easily accessible in the real world can be presented virtually. For example, while visitors to the Public Armoury site can watch the blacksmiths work, they cannot get too near the hot forges for obvious safety reasons. However in the virtual world users can examine the forges more closely and even access information about their archaeological remains and learn more about the 18th-century iron-working process. Attic spaces, which were typically reached by ladders or narrow stairways in the colonial period, often cannot be accessed today because of modern building codes. In the computer model, however, virtual guests will be able to explore the storage space in the armoury attic as well as the living quarters of the enslaved workers who resided upstairs in the Anderson kitchen.
Another advantage of the virtual model is the ability to represent the same building in multiple time periods. For example, the Anderson kitchen was modified between 1776 and 1779 when it changed from a domestic kitchen to one that needed to support the more than 40 workers living in the industrial armoury complex. In 1776 it likely had small windows, typical of a domestic kitchen, but by 1779 the two-pane-wide window on the building’s north wall had been exchanged for a larger, four-pane-wide window to let in more light. Archaeological evidence has revealed that brick drains were added to the lot to control water run-off and handle increased water usage when the Public Armoury was built. During the construction, one of the drains was run under the northwest corner of the kitchen, nearly to the hearth, and on top of it a sink was constructed to allow for the disposal of liquids directly into the drainage system without the cooks having to leave the building.
The modeling process is still ongoing, but the images below provide a sneak peak of some of our progress to date. Stay tuned for further updates as we continue virtually—and physically—rebuilding the Armoury complex!
By Cynthia Decker, Assistant Modeler, and Peter Inker, Digital Architectural Historian
Thank you to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH); the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS); the estate of Mark Hicks; the Grainger Foundation; the estate of John O’Donnell; and the estate of Joan J. Woods. We are extremely grateful for their support of the Digital History Center’s 3D Visualization Lab and the Foundation’s 3D modeling initiatives!
July 27, 2011
In Spring 2012, the Armoury building and kitchen will officially open to the public. The site will once again be bustling with blacksmithing and other industrial activities related to supporting the war effort during the Revolution, but another, perhaps less expected, interpretive area for the site will be foodways. However, sustaining the workforce, which at its height consisted of around 40 men, was obviously critical to the functioning of the site and thus important to telling the story of life at the Armoury. This project also provides the exciting opportunity to explore a completely different type of cooking than has been done previously in the Historic Area.
Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways team presently operates the two most well-equipped kitchens in Williamsburg’s Historic Area at the Governor’s Palace and the Peyton Randolph house. The James Anderson kitchen offers the opportunity to demonstrate cooking at the opposite end of the social spectrum. Currently, we are in the process of determining the kinds of foods were being cooked at the site. Period cookbooks, usually an excellent resource for determining what foods were served in the 18th century, are less helpful in this case, since they were written for wealthier households and do not include many basic or cheap recipes. Anderson also had up to 40 workers to feed each day, so the scale of cooking was also quite different than for a typical domestic site.
To better understand what foods were being prepared in the Anderson kitchen we are taking a two-pronged approach. The first area of study is analyzing food remains recovered during the ongoing archaeological excavation of the site. With the help of new techniques and a dedicated zooarchaeological staff, we are able to examine the break down of all the faunal (animal) bones found. This contributes to our understanding of the types and variety of meats being served, and in some cases, how they were prepared. By the time we start full scale interpretation on the site we will have a better archaeological sketch of the food prepared in this kitchen than in any other kitchen in town.
The second research focus is on documentary records that reference the foods and the types of equipment used for preparation. Master Blacksmith, Ken Schwarz, and Master Carpenter, Garland Wood, have helped us with in this area with their knowledge of the Anderson records. We have also worked with curators Eric Goldstein and Amanda Rosner in Colonial Williamsburg’s Department of Collections to determine what kind of equipment would have been in this type of kitchen because we do not have any period references to what Anderson had.
Preliminary analysis of the documents and archaeological evidence suggests that the main staples being served were bread and beef. This makes sense since these were standard rations for military and state paid workers. The exciting part will be what new and surprising things we may uncover as the research continues! Please stay tuned to the blog and visit the site as we get up and running to see what else we have learned.
Contributed by Frank Clark, Supervisor, Historic Foodways
November 23, 2010
Welcome to our first image gallery for the Armoury Reconstruction project! Periodically we will post updates as a set of pictures showing project activities. This gallery is a series of photographs taken during the Anderson Kitchen frame-raising, which took place on November 12.
To view a larger version of an image and a description, simply click on a picture. Once the larger image is opened, the left and right arrow keys can be used to move through the series. Mousing over the left or right side of an image will also reveal a clickable arrow for moving backward and forward between pictures.
Photos by Lisa Fischer, Willie Graham, and Jeff Klee.
November 2, 2010
Both webcams have moved over the past few days to provide new views of the ongoing work at the Armoury site. The Armoury cam is now in its permanent location facing south on the second floor of the Anderson House. The shed, which was “home” to the webcam for the first few months, has been dismantled in preparation for beginning the above-ground work to rebuild the Anderson kitchen. We hope this new view provides a better sense of the overall site and will provide a perspective of how the buildings relate to each other as each one is reconstructed.
With the off-site framing of the kitchen now complete, the roving webcam was moved from the joinery to the archaeological excavation site. This new location should provide a sense of one type of research that is being undertaken to help us determine what and where to rebuild. While many parts of the Anderson property have been excavated before, there are a few areas of the site where we can still learn more by digging. In its current location, the webcam shows excavation in the area around the east end of the Tin Shop. In the distance (upper right corner) you may be able to see archaeologists looking for evidence of the fences that bounded the Anderson property.
After a virtually rain-free summer, fall rains caused some delay while the kitchen foundations were being prepared. As a result, the kitchen frame raising will now take place toward the middle to the end of third week of November (17th – 19th, weather dependent). In the meantime, the masons will continue building the kitchen chimney base and the carpenters will lay the sills over the next few weeks, so there will still be plenty to see at the site (and on the webcams)!
October 21, 2010
The Armoury reconstruction project is now in full swing! Over the past few weeks the team has begun working on the kitchen, which will be the first building reconstructed. The original 18th-century brickwork for the chimney has been underpinned to ensure its stability when it is incorporated into the new building. Unlike the chimney base, the kitchen walls were “robbed out,” or removed for reuse in another structure during the late 18th or early 19th century. Over the next few weeks, the team will lay the remainder of kitchen foundation in preparation for the frame raising.
In addition to the work occurring at the new Armoury site, many of the Historic Trades sites around the Historic Area are manufacturing materials for the project. Since the summer, the brickyard has been making bricks, and in September they completed the first of two scheduled kiln firings this year (the second will occur in early December). The blacksmiths are manufacturing all of the hardware, such as hinges, locks, and nails, for the new buildings. The carpenters are assembling the frame for the kitchen in the yard adjacent to the joinery at the Ayscough House.
Several people have enquired about when the frame raising for the kitchen building will occur: it will be sometime during the first three weeks of November, with the second week of the month being the most likely week right now. The reason we are unable to pin down the exact date is that laying the brick foundations is a weather-dependent process. The shed covering the foundations has permitted work to continue during rainy conditions. However once the foundations are completed, the mortar will need at least a few days to harden before the soil around the foundations can be backfilled. Rain during that period will slow the drying process. We will monitor the progress and keep everyone posted as the schedule becomes clearer.