Award of Distinction Presented to the Voris Site Excavation, Rye, New York
The Museum Association of New York has announced the 2023 winners of Awards of Distinction. The fourteen statewide awards this year “celebrate unique leadership, dedicated community service, transformational visitor experiences, community engagement, and innovative programs that use collections to tell stories of everyone who calls New York home.” Dr. Sara Mascia, CNEHA Treasurer and Vice President of Historical Perspectives, collaborated with the Bird Homestead and Meeting House Conservancy in Rye (Westchester County, NY) on the “William Voris Archaeological Site Excavation” project. Dr. Mascia coordinated the project consisting of eight archaeological workshops for the public, focusing on the excavation and preservation of materials associated with the life of William Voris, one of the first Black entrepreneurs in coastal nineteenth century Westchester County.
The former Voris home lot is situated between the historic Rye Meeting House and the Bird family home along the Blind Brook estuary and is maintained by a Rye preservation organization. The extant home was owned by five generations of the Bouton-Bird-Erikson family for over 150 years. Henry Bird was a renowned entomologist; his sons Roland and Junius were pioneers in the fields of paleontology and archaeology, respectively. Many of their discoveries can be seen at the American Museum of Natural History and Junius was the role model for the Indiana Jones character. The recent archaeological workshops at the Voris site provided the public an opportunity to excavate, screen for artifacts, conduct research, and create a new vision of a racially integrated Rye in the mid-1800s.