The grounds of the Paul Revere House, Boston's oldest building and a historic Colonial landmark, are getting an examination. But there will be no probing; the procedure is noninvasive.
Using a technology called ground penetrating radar, Allen Gontz, an assistant professor of environmental, earth, and ocean sciences at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, began a series of soil tests at the North End site on Tuesday. He is looking for gas lines, water pipes, and deep features like wells, privies, and previous foundations.
Gontz's data will help guide the Paul Revere Memorial Association as it plans the renovation of nearby Lathrop Place, a parcel and two-family house built in 1835.
"It's just an added dimension, additional information that can be considered when planning," said Ellen Burkland, the city archeologist at the mayor's office who has assisted with the project and collaborated with Gontz in the past. The Revere Association plans to renovate the Lathrop Place house for educational programs.
On Wednesday, Gontz and a few of his graduate students were creating a grid of the property. The GPR, a device that looks like a radio-controlled car, crept over the courtyard bricks, taking measurements using electromagnetic radar waves that it shoots into the ground.
"What we are looking for is historical and cultural objects or remnants," he said. "With an idea of any building that would have been standing, we can build a model. . . . It could help develop a better understanding of what Boston would have looked like during the Revolutionary War."