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A group of students presented a midyear report Tuesday on plans to create an interactive, unguided tour through “a rich atmosphere of smells, sounds, and sights in every room” at Bachmann Publick House in downtown Easton. The plans were unveiled to Walt Jazwa and other board members of the Easton Heritage Alliance in room 104 of Kirby Hall of Civil Rights during a meeting open to the public.

The five students are engaged in the year-long Technology Clinic, a hands-on Lafayette course founded in 1986 that brings together students from different majors to solve the real-world problems of a business, non-profit organization, or government body. Their research addresses the social, technological, and economic issues involved with the client’s problem.

The team is comprised of George Lyons ’04, a mechanical engineering major from Bayside, N.Y.; Monika Serrano ’04, a mechanical engineering major from Caracas, Venezuela; Maura Oliphant ’03, a double major in English and anthropology & sociology from Chatham, N.J.; Kenya Flash ’03, a government and law major from Coopersburg, Pa.; and Lee Goldfarb ’05, a history major from Sewickley, Pa. Their advisers are Dan Bauer, professor of anthropology and sociology, and Beth Seetch, lecturer in English and coordinator of the College Writing Program.

The students’ plan would enlarge the potential audience for Bachmann Publick House via an unguided tour through enhanced exhibits that would most likely blend MP3, barcode, and pocket PC computer technology to create an interactive experience. Visitors would use a hand-held device with a menu of stories, voices, and information to increase understanding of the history permeating every aspect of the building.

The report focuses on one exhibit, but provides a variety of recommendations for the entire building.

“Aiming to engage and inform a variety of visitors, we will construct and install a map-model in one room devoted to the commercial development of early Easton,” states a draft version of the Technology Clinic report. “Combining some of the most innovative technologies with traditional model-making techniques, this map-model will depict the great economic and industrial changes that occurred in Easton’s first century, as it journeyed from pioneer village to thriving commercial center of the mid-Atlantic.”

The students are building on the work of a 1999 Technology Clinic recommending that the building engage visitors with “living history” and technology.

Built in 1753 when Easton was just two years old, Bachmann Publick House is the city’s oldest standing structure and most important historic site. Located at the corner of Second and Northampton Streets, the stone building was the first tavern licensed in Northampton County and was used as Easton’s first courthouse. The Easton Heritage Alliance, the city’s historic preservation organization, owns and maintains the building.

Formerly called the 1753 Jacob Bachmann Tavern, the building was a center of business and government during its early years, and Benjamin Franklin is reported to have used it numerous times as a meeting place related to the Indian peace treaties with the colonists. George Washington, General John Sullivan, and other famous travelers spent time there as well. George Taylor, the 30th signer of the Declaration of Independence, owned the building from 1761 to 1779. During his ownership, meetings were held at the tavern to make plans for the American Revolution.

Categorized in: Academic News