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World travelers now caring for Milton's Suffolk Resolves House

Posted by Dave Eisenstadter  September 6, 2013 10:53 AM

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Rebecca and Amram Migdal began have lived in a kibbutz in Israel, took a trip around the world, and survived living in a small apartment in Brooklyn.

But their latest traveling has taken them to a different time. The Migdals are the new caretakers of the Suffolk Resolves House at 1370 Canton Ave. in Milton, and are living among the artifacts of the 18th century.

“We like having adventures, and this is just another sort of adventure,” she said.

Migdal saw the position posted online and immediately informed her husband she was applying for it. When she was selected, the couple packed up their belongings to move to Milton.

For Rebecca Migdal, who grew up in Newton, the move brought her closer to home. Her husband is a Seattle native who had lived 10 years in New York City.

“In the building itself we’re constantly finding interesting ways it’s evolved over time," Migdal said of the Resolves House. "The house is weird and the stuff in it is weird, and weird is what makes it exciting.”

The house was the site of the 1774 signing of the Suffolk Resolves, a document declaring a boycott on British goods. Paul Revere left Milton on horseback with the Resolves and headed to Philadelphia to the Continental Congress.

The Resolves were endorsed by Congress on Sept. 17 and used to form the text of the Declaration of Rights. Thomas Jefferson consulted the Resolves when crafting the Declaration of Independence two years later.

The house, originally owned by the Vose family, has been preserved over the years and was moved to its current site to save it from being torn down.

The Milton Historical Society uses it for events, but it is usually closed to visitors.

The Migdals’ job is to keep the house lived-in and preserve the artifacts contained within.

Alongside the Migdals’ personal possessions are photos of Revolution-era residents, 18th century books, and original fireplaces that no longer function. None of the warped wooden cabinets close quite right, and the front door is guarded by two authentic muskets.

In the basement, accessible by a trap door in the living room, stairs lead to a cellar from the home the Suffolk Resolves House was places on top of when it was moved.

Kept dry with the help of dehumidifiers, more books and photos are preserved in the lower level.

Migdal has lived in the house for the summer, which was difficult during the July heat wave, she said. She said she wonders what the winter will be like.

Migdal has a master’s degree in American material culture through the University of Delaware at the Winterthur Museum.

“Basically, old stuff,” Migdal said of her degree. “A historic house like this and a collection of old American things is what I’ve been training for two years to engage with.”

Her other job is working for Four Centuries of Massachusetts Furniture, an organization dedicated to celebrating the evolution and craftsmanship of Massachusetts furniture. The organization will be recognized at the State House on Sept. 17, kicking off a year of events related to furniture in the state.

In the meantime, Migdal will play host at her new home, when the Milton Historical Society holds its open house this Sunday. The house will be open from 1 to 3 p.m. and the Migdals will be on hand along with members of the Ninth Massachusetts Regiment, who will perform a reenactment.

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