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Acton Stone Chamber

Site Examination field work was conducted by Massachusetts Archaeological Professionals (MAP) in conjunction with the Town of Acton and the New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA).

 

ABSTRACT

The Town of Acton Board of Selectmen, as overseen by the Acton Historical Commission, and in collaboration with the New England Antiquities Research Association (NEARA), were awarded a Community Preservation Act (CPA) grant for the restoration and stabilization of the Historic Stone Chamber on the Nashoba Brook Conservation Land in Acton, Massachusetts. The aim of the restoration project was to restore the stone chamber to a condition that both resolves the present safety hazards (danger of collapse), and to re-establish certain architectural principles applied during its period of original construction. The Acton chamber has been known about for many years, but it has been within the last 40 years that, due to both human and environmental factors, it has suffered its most severe deterioration. The deterioration has now reached the stage where it has been determine that, due to its location on public land with open access and the fact that it now possesses a serious danger of collapse with potential serious injury to whomever happens to be present, that it must either be rebuilt or demolished. Restoration consisted of the removal of the soils on the roof of the chamber and the walls of the passage leading into it. This was followed by the removal of the roof slabs, a reconstruction and stabilization of the walls, replacement of the roof slabs and the replacement of the overlying soils to replicate the original appearance.

Prior to any reconstruction work, archaeological Site Examination (950 CMR 70) testing was proposed for the soils located adjacent to the interior and exterior walls of the passage, the floor of the passage and the adjacent stone foundation. The purpose of the Site Examination was to gather sufficient information to determine whether the Stone Chamber was eligible for listing in the National and State Register of Historic Places. Site Examination testing prior to and during the reconstruction of the Acton Stone Chamber yielded significant information on the methods of construction of the walls, the original depth of the floor of the passage, the possible purpose of the foundation adjacent to the stone chamber, and the area between the stone chamber and the foundation. Materials recovered during the course of testing included one possible Middle Archaic Neville-like projectile point, recovered from a fill layer and thus lacking provenience integrity, as well as historic material spanning the late eighteenth to late twentieth centuries. Documentary research tied the chamber construction with Moses Wood, a Revolutionary War veteran and blacksmith. Documentary research also indicated that the chamber may have been used as an ice house and the adjacent foundation served as the blacksmith shop for Moses Wood and his son Aaron.

Site examination results indicated that, although the passage has been reconstructed, the site maintains significant integrity and is recommended for inclusion on the National Register based on Criteria B, C and D. It is associated with a person of local significance, is representative of a vanishing but once significant vernacular architectural style, and maintains the potential to add information important to the history of the Town, State and region.

Click here to download the Acton Stone Chamber Report in it's entirety

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