Four Rivers Charter School students get hands-on science lesson at historic Williams House in Goshen

  • Shealyn Garvin, a student at Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, gets ready to scrape a paint chip off the wall of a bedroom at the Williams House in Goshen to test it for lead as part of a school project. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Julian Rodriguez, and Katie Deso, both students at Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, compare paint samples they collected from the Williams House in Goshen. Deso’s sample taken from the general store turned black indicating lead while Rodriguez’s from the former slave quarters shows low levels. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Zayne Appel, a student at Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, and Kammille Oborne , the owner of the Williams House in Goshen, look at a paint sample that turned black indicating lead paint from the bachelor’s quarters. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Kammille Oborne , the owner of the Williams House in Goshen, holds a clear paint sample taken from the outside of the house indicating no lead. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Julian Rodriguez, a student at Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, shakes a paint sample he collected from the Williams House in Goshen. The sample needed to be shaken for eight minutes before the results for lead became known. Rodriguez’s sample had low levels of lead. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Nat Clark, a student at Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, and Kammille Oborne , the owner of the Williams House in Goshen, talk about how to get a paint sample from one of the bedrooms to be tested for lead as part of a school project. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Parker Smith, a student at Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, gets ready to scrape a paint chip off the wall of a bedroom at the Williams House in Goshen to test it for lead as part of a school project. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Students from Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, leave the Williams House in Goshen where they had collected paint samples as part of a school project to test for lead. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Paint samples collected by students from the Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, taken from the Williams House in Goshen as part of a school project. The samples show different levels of lead paint. The clear samples are lead free while the dark samples indicate lead. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Isaac Morton, a student at Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, holds a paint sample from the Williams House he collected in Goshen before testing it for lead paint as part of a school project. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Shealyn Garvin, a student at Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, holds paint chips from a wall of a bedroom at the Williams House in Goshen before placing them in a container to test them for lead as part of a school project. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Shealyn Garvin, a student at Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, gets ready to scrape a paint chip off the wall of a bedroom at the Williams House in Goshen to test it for lead as part of a school project. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Paint samples collected by students from the Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, taken from the Williams House in Goshen as part of a school project. The samples show different levels of lead paint. The clear samples are lead free while the dark samples indicate lead. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Paint samples collected by students from the Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, taken from the Williams House in Goshen as part of a school project. The samples show different levels of lead paint. The clear samples are lead free while the dark samples indicate lead. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/24/2022 7:34:55 PM

GOSHEN — The historic Williams House hosted a large crew of visitors one morning last week, as students from Four Rivers Charter Public School took samples and tested paint in the home for lead.

Part of the Williams House dates back to the 18th century (the remainder was built in the early 19th century) and it contains Goshen’s first post office, first general store and still has an ice house attached to it.

Last year, Kam Oborne bought the property from the town at auction for $60,000, a move that was hailed by those seeking to preserve the house.

Oborne and her husband, Tom Oborne, plan on donating the house to the Williams-Boltwood House Trust sometime later this year. The trust is looking to transform the house into a museum, a goal the Obornes support.

Before donating the house, however, the Obornes are looking to make improvements to it.

“I don’t want to donate something they can’t take care of,” said Kam Oborne.

It was with this in mind that she reached out to Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield. The school is where all three of the Obornes’ children went, and she asked the school if it was interested in having students come to the house to test it for lead.

“It’s a school that really believes in expeditionary learning,” she said. “They were all over this.”

Lead is a toxic element, which can cause severe health problems, including brain damage, especially in children. However, it was a common ingredient in paint for much of the United States’ history, with lead-based paints only being banned for residential use in 1978.

Andy Patari teaches science at the school, where he taught all of the Obornes’ children.

“Our school puts an emphasis on field work and finding authentic connections,” he said. “This is a chance for them to help the community by doing labwork, which we can connect to our study of lead and chromatography and looking at the chemical effects of lead on our brain.”

He also said that Kam Oborne did a lot of the legwork on looking up the best practices around safety.

In addition to Patari, the school’s principal, Zevey Steinitz, was also present at the house last week.

“We want to provide students the opportunity to have hands-on experiences where they are acting as scientists, not just studying science,” she said

Thursday morning saw the 36 11th-graders busily moving about the house as they collected samples from its many rooms. A number of these students also expressed appreciation for the home.

“Its history is absolutely amazing,” said TJ Lamere, who lives in Goshen and knows the Obornes. “I want to build it up. I want to help it out.”

Lemere also said that he loves both science and history.

“If you put those two together, it makes it even better,” he said.

Pearson Franz has an interest in chemistry, and is thinking about becoming a forensic scientist.

“I get to actually test actual things,” said Franz, on the lead testing exercise.

She also said that she likes old houses, and that the Williams House was “a whole bunch of things mashed together.”

After samples were collected, smaller samples were taken from them and tested with lead testing kits procured by Kam Oborne. The kits, which are EPA-approved, involve putting a sample in a vial of liquid and agitating it. If the liquid turns black, the presence of lead is indicated.

A number of the samples tested positive for lead in this method, something Oborne said she wasn’t surprised by.

Oborne was very happy, however, that tests didn’t show the presence of lead on the shutters of the house, as she is interested in having people “adopt” and refurbish the shutters, before returning them to the house. That wouldn’t be possible if they were painted with lead paint.

Oborne said samples that didn’t test positive for lead will be sent to a lab to confirm that they don’t have lead in them. One of the positive samples was taken by Zayne Appel, who took it from the bachelor’s quarters.

“It was pretty cool,” Appel said, who noted that there was no way to tell about the presence of lead until it was tested. “Which is kind of scary honestly being in a room full of lead paint.”

He also said that seeing the house was also a good experience.

Tom Oborne noted that a lot of time has been spent cleaning out the house and landscaping its grounds since it was purchased.

“It’s a great challenge,” he said. “We’re very excited about the fact that we have a piece of history here.”

Kam Oborne said that they’re interested in the community getting involved with the renovations, and her husband noted that volunteers have helped with the landscaping work. Kam also said that the community helped them to purchase the property, which is why they want to donate it.

A tag sale fundraiser of items from the house is also planned and one of the students, Jaida Barry, got a head start on the fundraiser when their friend Innis Bakey, bought them a small ceramic goose for a dollar.

“I really like geese,” Barry said.

Those wishing to volunteer on the house or donate to it can contact the Williams-Boltwood House Trust at wbhousetrust@gmail.com.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.

Jobs



Support Local Journalism


Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy