Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Buildings, Memories, and Tradition

On Monday afternoon, Anne Barnes chatted with John LaDuke and I about how Quidi Vidi has changed over the years. One site across from her house has gone from fish plant to restaurant to vacant building. Another has become the Quidi Vidi Village Plantation building, where field school classes take place and tourists seem to flow constantly in and out throughout the day as they explore the village. The number of residents is also increasing as Quidi Vidi becomes known as much for its beautiful views now as it was for its fishing industry in the past.

Later that afternoon, Ed Chappell, the director of architecture and archaeology at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, led us on a tour of Quidi Vidi's architecture. When we arrived at the Hennebury house, which may have been built as early as 1749, we found surprisingly little physical evidence of its history. The structure of the original house remains, but vinyl siding now covers the exterior while modern walls inside mask the original exposed timber. The house's past was not lost, however, as Eric Sneilgrove was able to tell us about the house's construction prior to its renovations in great detail. The root cellar might now be part of a modern a basement, for instance, but Sneilgrove told us how this basement space used to serve as the original cellar and housing for a pony.

Eric Sneilgrove shows us the house's original root cellar (through the blue door). Photo by Klara Nichter.

Ed Chappell points out the details of the basement wall. Photo by Klara Nichter.

When we continued on our tour, we found more evidence of residents' preservation of Quidi Vidi's historic architecture. Although Mallard Cottage, another of the village's earliest buildings, no longer features solely historic architecture either, its owner is in the process of reconstructing it as faithfully as possible to its original design. Likewise, local heritage carpenter Aiden Duff is currently working on restoring his home, originally the village church. Items such as the materials and bright red paint used to construct the new church steeple might be new, but the resulting structure mirrors the original architecture of the church.

Aiden Duff's workshop (red building) and home (the church).Photo by Klara Nichter.

By the end of the tour, it was apparent that although Quidi Vidi is changing in many ways, its residents are also taking steps to preserve its heritage. Whether through the memories of those who inhabit its historic structures or through the reconstruction of the buildings themselves, Quidi Vidi's history lives on alongside its new developments.

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