The thing that most of us do not have in common with archeologists is the patience required for their work. How many of us would be content to painstakingly brush away millennia worth of soil with a paintbrush?
That’s also true of the urban archeology that is now uncovering vestiges of Hamilton’s past in the historic Treble Hall on John Street North. Owner Jeff Feswick and son Michael are “deconstructing” the interior of the 1879 building, carefully peeling back walls, ceilings, floors and the detritus of about 130 years. They have discovered a fascinating array of artifacts, ranging from used corsets to curious old bottles. (The story, photographs and video are on thespec.com/multimedia.)
Suddenly, it’s not just a derelict downtown building any more. It’s a place when Victorian-era Hamiltonians worked, played, performed, did business and perhaps lived. The “ghosts” of 19th-century Hamilton (in the non-spooky sense) are revealed.
Not every building owner or developer can do this. The pressures of time, banks, loans and business most often demand that such work be done with speed. But can we imagine, if everyone had the patience of Jeff Feswick, what stories are left to be told, what ghosts slumber in Hamilton’s old attics and cellars?
So, thanks to Feswick and son for finding and preserving a little of Hamilton’s intriguing past. The city is richer for their interest and patience.