At the Gathering, John Larson, architectural historian at Old Salem, noted the progress that has been made in the last two years in securing and stabilizing the house and outbuildings. Here are some of his remarks:
What we discovered this year is that the cellar that we thought was a later addition in fact was original to the house and that the original opening was underneath the front porch… We have developed techniques for stabilizing the building, dealing with a lot of the sill rot issues, and beginning to establish the window and door locations on the front. And now you can look at the house begin to appreciate some of its original lines and detailing which makes it so remarkable.”
This house is listed on the National Register, of course… It is an incredibly significant building. It is one of those surviving examples of the people coming down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania and settling the back country of N.C. of which the Hoyle family was part…”
Architecturally, then, the building tells us of those building traditions that came down the Wagon Road. It is the only example of this particular building style, this post and log construction, that survives in the state of N.C. and I don’t know of any in Virginia either. So you can begin to get an idea of how important this building is as an artifact.”
But like any object, the object itself is not the essence. It’s like the vessel that our potter is making over here. He can make a wonderful pot but it really only becomes significant with the association of the people that subsequently own it and use it. The fact that you as descendants have come here shows that you care about this tradition and these people that occupied this house, and care about your forefathers and their legacy bequeathed. With that caring and this site goes a responsibility: things survive only if we care about them.”
If you care about something then you end up committing yourself to it, you pay attention to it, you give up your time like you did today. Then this house and site become part or your memories and your history, too. And I think that is what is ultimately valuable about this house and this gathering.