Archaeological Report for Farm Shop/Piggery

From an article in the winter 1998 members’ newsletter by Anita Carroll Weldon

The archaeology project for the Farm Shop/Piggery, completed by consulting archaeologist Joyce Clements, resulted in an extensive report with the following conclusion:

“We have evaluated documentary and archaeological evidence associated with the small farmshop or piggery at The Bidwell House. Along the western facade archeologist evaluated dense artifactual deposits during excavation… The ‘midden’ consisted of architectural debris deposited during renovation or restoration efforts around the farmstead. The midden also contained a large pig mandible that is not associated with the building, but was redeposited during landscaping efforts … This information is part of the evolving history of the household and contributed tangible evidence of restoration efforts…

From the available data the existing structure appears to date from the late 18th century to early nineteenth century. The structure may have been built by Adonijah Bidwell, Jr. or more likely by John Devotion Bidwell, during the period of farmstead 0expansion and modernization. The function of the structure is derived from size, structural characteristics, and location. In all likelihood the building was a garden shed, used to store equipment and supplies. Despite its stature, the farm shop is a critical component of the built environment, with a unique role in the agricultural history of the Minister’s lot. The building itself, though repaired and renovated, is a charming rustic structure, visually framed with a carefully constructed flagstone walkway…”

The report also produced an extensive title search which proved a change of ownership fourteen times from 1784 when Reverend Bidwell died, up to 1960 when the house and property was purchased by Jack Hargis. This includes the tenure of three generations of Bidwells, from 1750 to 1853, and three generations of the family of George Carrington, from 1871 to 1911.

As historian Michael Steinitz stated in his findings delivered as part of The Bidwell House land symposium in 1994:

” …if we focus our attention solely on the Bidwell era farmstead, we fail to recognize how the landscape has been visualized, interpreted and exploited at different periods in history. Although subsequent eras are not perceived as historically significant as the Bidwell period, each ownership period reveals important information about the environmental evolution of the land. Telling the story of the land is perhaps as compelling as telling the story of the people.”

These archaeological findings gave the go-ahead to complete the restoration of the farm shop which included the resetting of the dry laid stone foundation, repair to the original structural beams, replacement of rotted sills and floor, and replacement of several rotted siding boards.