Students Dig the Past at Montclair State University

All-Day Community Open House at the excavation site on June 10

MONTCLAIR, NJ--Since May 22, a group of students from Montclair State University and other schools, including Boston College and the University of Pennsylvania, have been digging holes and pouring the excavated soil through screening devices around the lawns of the historic Bond House, located at the south end of the campus.

According to Peter Siegel, associate professor of anthropology and director of Montclair State's 2008 Summer Archaeological Field School, the excavation and the research have revealed new history about the house and property, which will be shared at an open house on June 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Under the supervision of Professor Siegel, the students have undertaken a painstaking process that involves the actual dig and intensive archival research (at the New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office, the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton and at the Hall of Records in Newark, among other research facilities). Through this process, the the archaeologists-in-training are discovering information about the lives of the house's inhabitants and the history of the adjoining property.

What has come to be known as the Bond House, named for the last family who owned the house before it became part of Montclair State University, was built in 1872 by Thomas Van Reyper as his family's residence. A scion of a wealthy Montclair family, Van Reyper was married to Caroline Speer of the prominent Speer family of Montclair. Montclair was originally named "Speertown."

At 12 p.m., Dr. Siegel and the students will give a talk at the excavation site about the history of the Van Reyper/Bond House, now listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Historic documents, photos and maps that demonstrate how the property has changed over time, will be displayed and discussed .

Visitors are also invited to view the Center's new facilities in the Coder House at 10 Normal Avenue, just a couple of hundred feet from the excavations and learn about the historical research on the property that the students are undertaking in conjunction with the dig.

The project is being conducted under the auspices of The Center for Heritage and Archaeological Studies (CHAS), an interdisciplinary archaeology program.

For more information, visit Bond House Dig. Media coverage is invited.

Released: June 5, 2008