J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Boston History Museums Looking Up and Down

The Old State House museum’s tower is being renovated, as the Boston Globe reported last week. The photo on the right, by David L. Ryan, shows the scaffolding that now sheathes the structure.

The Bostonian Society, owner of that historic structure, has created a not-unfamiliar-looking blog showing progress on the tower from the inside.

Meanwhile, up in the North End, the Paul Revere House is mapping its site using lasers and radar. I’m not sure I understand all that the Globe was saying, but here’s the gist:

Now surveyors from the Boston firm Harry R. Feldman Inc. and an academic team from UMass Boston [led by Prof. Allen Gontz] are collaborating to create a three-dimensional digital picture of the house and associated structures, the garden where water was once drawn from a hand-dug well, and even what's below ground, down to about 10 feet.

A picture of what’s above the surface, created by the Feldman firm using a laser scanner, is being stitched together electronically with a radar-generated image of what's underground produced by the UMass Boston team, so history—even the remains of a privy—can be protected as the space is enlarged.
The Globe also offers a slide show, and a video with the article.

Both museums remain open as this work goes on.


RJO said...

A tangential comment: Is there a project or database like this for Boston?


Wouldn't it be a great thing? It could be done more thoroughly than this, ideally with photographs of all the inscriptions. (If anyone wants to pay me to do it for a year, I'll be there. ;-)

J. L. Bell said...

I don’t know of any Boston equivalent for that site. (I repeated the link since there was a problem with a particular HTML tag before.)

Somehow it seems appropriate that the land that made train-spotting a well-known hobby has also produced a complete catalogue of one city’s inscriptions. In Boston, we’d probably have to do the survey in only one neighborhood at a time.