ABOVE: The Main house on Ossabaw Island, a 1928 Spanish Revival house.
We had a visit from Patty Silence and Matt Webster from Colonial Williamsburg. They arrived on Friday and stayed Saturday and Sunday, returning on Monday with me, dropping me off at the airport in Savannah.
It was really great to have them there, they both have a wealth of knowledge and practical experience that was invaluable to the project. They met with representatives from the Ossabaw Island Foundation today.
Matt gave a tour and description of the Tabby houses. He did a bit of forensic archaeology, showing us parts of the houses that were original and pieces that were added later. There have been numerous repairs to the materials and he encouraged the foundation representatives to do future repairs with materials on site, using oyster shells and calcining the shells in a lime rick to create quicklime for more tabby material. He pointed out that this would save them from buying quicklime which is expensive, and it would be a great context and educational tool for the site.
The CW contingent were all really great at talking about context and this is something I personally found really interesting. I have most often worked in museums where the context is usually painted on the walls or installed into the spaces, but to talk about your reenactor who has been playing Thomas Jefferson for years and years is an entirely different kind of experience. It is something I wish I had more time to learn about.
Patty’s advice about the practical work of housekeeping included tips about using lambs wool dusters (they are susceptible to carpet beetle infestations, watch out for shedding!) and other tips and products recommendations, the need for body fluid pick-up kits when cleaning up vomit because of blood born pathogens is something else that is vital to a housekeeping manual, especially if there will be a number of people in the space.
We have compiled a “Oh, Shit!” list of helpful advice and mini-treatments for the occasional spilled glass of red wine, chocolate, water, or the knocking off the wall of a painting or framed print. This list has been compiled with information and facts from The National Trust Manual of Housekeeping, a vital book for any project like this, but something you’ll definitely want to check in your luggage as it is 900+ pages. It costs around $150 as well, luckily I have funding from the Leo and Karen Gutmann Foundation specifically to buy books so I brought along a copy for the group. Perhaps in my next post I will discuss more about what I brought that was helpful (both books were very good) and what could have been left at home (tape measures were never used as this was not a survey project). Two pairs of blue jeans and long socks were of course indispensable.