Friday, April 11, 2014

Capt. Aaron Root House: the Guerrilla Archaelogy Visit

On Wednesday, I had an opportunity to see the Captain Aaron Root house up close one last time before it gets demolished.

I was a member of Director Dr. Charles Herdendorf's "guerrilla archeology" team that visited the house.  Dr. Herndendorf had permission from the owner of the house for us to go through it and "take whatever we wanted." So on Wednesday morning, we paid a visit to the house to see what – if anything – could be salvaged.

The house had a lot of stories to tell, if you looked closely, such as the various layers of material on the outside of the house leading down to the original wood siding, or the windows with their square nails.

Inside, we found a wall with some ancient wallpaper that had several layers of paint and plaster partially covering it.
Part of the adventure was just getting up enough nerve to climb those rickety stairs – especially because if the steps collapsed, you'd drop like a rock directly into the basement!
Once at the top of the stairs (below), you really couldn't go anywhere, since the second floor was lying on the first floor.
The basement was probably the most interesting part of the house, because of the huge beams. Some of the logs still had bark on them.
I did my best to look for stuff throughout the house that might be salvage-worthy and bring it outside to scrutinize in the sunlight. The pile soon grew to include pieces of trim, bricks from the fireplace, door frames, and other odds and ends.
My best find of the day? This rare 20th-Century artifact (below) created in the shape of a costumed waterfowl that apparently was some sort of pipe. It was down in the basement under a pile of rubbish.
So although I didn't find any dusty envelopes stuffed with wads of yellowed greenbacks hidden in the walls, I thoroughly enjoyed myself during my house visit. It was a fascinating way to spend a few hours.

Col. Matt Nahorn and his team from the New Indian Ridge Museum also participated in this salvage effort. Be sure to visit his interesting website (here) for some historical background about the house, as well as an informative documented account of what he observed, and what he was able to salvage.

9 comments:

Ken said...

Cool! Was that some kind of 18th Century nautical garb on that waterfowl? Glad you made it through the adventure without the need for a tetanus shot-- or bodycast. Were you a celebrity guest on the team?

Dan Brady said...

I was there for comedy relief, I kept mumbling, "Now where did Old Man Root stash his loot?"

Anonymous said...

Actually, Dan, your pipe doesn't appear to be too terribly old - from the 70's if this link is correct:
http://www.etsy.com/listing/150903411/vintage-donald-duck-bubble-pipe
Don Wozniak

Dan Brady said...

Thanks, Don! I guess my vision of Ebay greenbacks for this thing just got popped like a bubble blown out of Donald's head!

I hope whoever used it before I found it was just blowing bubbles with it and not smoking anything!

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Drew Penfield said...

Nice Dan. Glad you were part of this.

Unknown said...

Nice posting about the salvage operation! :) Glad you could come too.

Tom H. said...

It is sad that now people are interested in the Capt Root House. It has been run down for over 20 years.

Dan Brady said...

You're right, Tom! I wish I had paid more attention to it when it still had a front door! I've been driving by it on the way to work for about 25 years!!