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Wednesday September 14, 2011

POWNAL -- The Vermont Archaeological Society, as part of Vermont Archaeology Month this month, invite the public to learn about the archaeology and architecture of what may be Vermont’s oldest house at an event in Pownal, Saturday, Sept. 17, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

At the event, several specialists share their perspectives, including the home’s owners and restorers, an historical architect, and an archaeologist.

The free presentation will begin at the Solomon Wright Public Library on Main Street in Pownal Village, just off route 346. Then participants will walk to the Mooar/Wright/DeVoet House directly west of the Library.

Origins of home questioned

The origins of the home, sometimes called the Mooar/Wright House and sometimes called the DeVoet House, has been the subject of debate in Pownal for many decades. Some believe this was the tavern erected by Charles Wright, one of the first English settlers of Pownal, around 1765. Others believe that it was the home of Jan Ernst DeVoet, one of the early "Dutch" settlers of Pownal who were tenant farmers in the Manor of Renssylaerswyck -- that might move date back to the 1750s, if not earlier.

Wright and his descendants became prominent in the history of Pownal. DeVoet’s family, on the other hand, suffered during the Revolution because they were Tories. First imprisoned by Patriots, DeVoet escaped and later fought against the Patriot forces at the Battle of Bennington, where one of his sons was killed and where he was again captured and imprisoned. He escaped again, this time to Canada, where he joined others as United Empire Loyalists.

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Jean and Gary Dickson, the current owners of the house, purchased it several years ago with the specific intent of restoring it as closely as possible to its original condition. They have almost accomplished this task, exposing original construction, determining original colors, and adding to the mystery of its origins.

Other experts will also talk

Gary Dickson, the Methodist minister in Pownal Village, will talk about the history of the home as he has been able to determine it.

Jane Radoccia, an historical architect, has studied early home construction in Bennington County and along the nearby Hudson River. She has identified a regional set of design elements that emulate early Dutch construction but that were modified to reflect local conditions and materials. Inside, she will point out how those design elements may help address the age of the house, while raising even more questions.

Hartgen Archaeological Associates in Troy found British pottery near the house when Hartgen surveyed the route for a new sewer line in Pownal several years ago. Outside the house, Hartgen archaeologist John Ham will describe how an archaeologist might proceed if there were to be more extensive excavations.

For information about the event in Pownal call 802-823-0198. For information on events during Vermont Archaeology Month visit vtarchaeology.org.


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