County’s history being documented in survey

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Mar 05, 2014 - 02:15 PM

Photo: A team of historians and archaeologists gathered at the East River home of Mathews residents Martha Ellen Traband and Bill Brockner Friday to perform an architectural survey of the property. They are in the process of completing surveys on 230 properties in Mathews County. Team members, from left, are Anna Hayden, staff archaeologist for the Fairfield Foundation; Thane Harpole, co-director of the Fairfield Foundation and co-owner of DATA Investigations; Forrest Morgan, chair of the archaeology committee of the Mathews County Historical Society, and Steve Fonzo, historical preservationist for DATA Investigations. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

A team of historians and archaeologists gathered at the East River home of Mathews residents Martha Ellen Traband and Bill Brockner Friday to perform an architectural survey of the property. They are in the process of completing surveys on 230 properties in Mathews County. Team members, from left, are Anna Hayden, staff archaeologist for the Fairfield Foundation; Thane Harpole, co-director of the Fairfield Foundation and co-owner of DATA Investigations; Forrest Morgan, chair of the archaeology committee of the Mathews County Historical Society, and Steve Fonzo, historical preservationist for DATA Investigations. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

The Mathews County Historical Society is more than halfway through a grant-sponsored architectural survey of 230 structures in Mathews, including historic homes, churches, businesses, cemeteries, warehouses, boat landings, docks and other structures.

The survey is part of the historical society’s “Year of Finding History in Mathews County.”

On Friday, Steve Fonzo, historical preservationist for the local firm DATA Investigations, and Anna Hayden, staff archaeologist for the Fairfield Foundation, were at the East River home of Martha Ellen Traband and Bill Brockner to conduct a reconnaissance survey of the house and other buildings on the property.

Fairfield Foundation co-director and DATA Investigations co-owner Thane Harpole was there, as well, along with Forrest Morgan, chair of the historical society’s archaeology committee.

Hayden photographed and mapped the property, showing the location of the house and other buildings in relation to the shoreline, then drew rooflines and other details on a building diagram that came from tax records.

Fonzo made notes on the architectural style and exterior material of the house and wrote a description of the site and the architecture. 

The information obtained will be digitized and included, along with the site’s location and parcel numbers, in the Virginia Department of Historic Resources’ statewide database, Harpole said. If any of the properties visited seem to be eligible for the National Registry, he said, that will be noted. Even properties that aren’t eligible individually might be eligible as a location-based or a theme-based group, he said, particularly Mathews County’s gas stations. He said that a lot of them date to between the 1920s and 1940s.