Bones discovered beneath Bennington house not human
source: townnews.com

Bones discovered beneath Bennington house not human

News Article

In a surprising turn of events, bones discovered beneath a historic house in Bennington, Vermont, have been confirmed as not human. The discovery was made by contractors on Monday during a renovation project at the property.

Mo Kafka, the owner of the property, provided some historical context. “The large white Greek Revival house on the property was originally built in 1830 and was expanded and renovated in 1852. Known as the Hall House, it was occupied by members of the prominent Hall family for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. Governor Hiland Hall was the most notable resident,” Kafka explained.

The bones were found under a small green house on the property. “The green cottage on the southwest corner of the current property was behind the Merrill House but faces Seminary Lane. By the time of a 1958 survey, the parcels of the Merrill and Hall properties, the green cottage, and the house at 40 West were all owned by the Bennington College Corp,” Kafka added.

Currently, the remains are in the care of an archaeologist.

Earlier this week, construction workers digging around the foundation of a century-old abandoned structure in Old Bennington unearthed what they initially believed to be human remains. The bones, including a femur and a piece of vertebrae, were found early Thursday morning. Workers were moving dirt under the home to reinforce the structure when they made the discovery.

“I just happened to dig down about a foot and a half, and the bone was just sticking up there,” said Ben Britch of Clayton Construction, the company working on the project. “I just pulled it up out of the dirt right next to me.”

Another worker suggested the bones looked human, prompting the men to call the Bennington Police. “The house is at least a hundred years old and under some major renovations,” said Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette. “While digging underneath, workers found several old bones that appear to be human bones.”

Bennington Police immediately called in detectives and an assistant medical examiner. The assistant ME initially believed the bones to be human. A state archaeologist was also called to examine the bones and the surrounding dirt. The remains were then transported to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington for DNA testing to confirm their origin. Those tests are expected to be available on Friday.

“These remains were under this old home, which is in one of the oldest parts of Bennington,” Doucette said. “It is concerning finding human remains, but this could well have been a former burial site or possibly not human at all. There were battles throughout this whole area during the Revolutionary War. Who knows where these came from at this point?”

Workers also found old bottles, pottery, and metal bands from an old barrel or keg nearby. “There’s a lot of possibilities,” Doucette added.

When asked whether police have initiated an investigation into the old property or if there were historically any missing persons associated with the area, Doucette confirmed that the investigation is currently underway. “We have a call into the Town Clerk’s office to learn more about the property and the previous owners. We are currently not aware of any missing persons here or any unsolved cases in this area. Again, who knows? This could be a burial site from years ago. We will know tomorrow.”

Owner Mo Kafka has owned the property where the bones were found since 2022. He recently hired Clayton Construction to help secure the fieldstone foundation with the hopes of occupying the structure sometime in the near future. The property includes a primary home, a Greek revival-style classic, post-colonial-era structure built around 1830. It also includes the small cottage structure under renovation and an old red barn. The property is on West Street/Route 9, directly opposite the Four Chimneys Inn. The area surrounding the property is significant in Vermont’s history and the colonial era leading up to the Revolutionary War.

On Monday, police received a call about some bones found under a building on West Road in Bennington. “We received a call about some bones that were discovered underneath the residence as they were digging,” said Police Chief Paul Doucette. “Right now in Bennington, we don’t have an open missing persons case.”

The contractor in charge of the project, Al Clayton, says that the bones were discovered by one of his employees, Benjamin Rich. “I just saw something white. Then I grabbed the rake and pulled out a bone,” Rich said.

Clayton quickly realized that the bones might be more than just animal remains. “It was maybe two inches in diameter. It wasn’t perfectly round. So it was kind of weird. So I called in the Bennington Police Department,” Clayton explained.

Both Clayton and Rich agreed that the remains were likely quite old. Rich noted, “Obviously it wasn’t anything too recent. It was full of dirt inside the bone.” Clayton added, “There was no bone marrow inside. It was obvious that this is an older piece of material.”

Police Chief Doucette concurred with the assessment, saying, “We’re in a very historical part of Bennington. We did have a Revolutionary War here.”

The bones are now in the care of an archaeologist and on their way to the University of Vermont Medical Center, where experts will determine the origin and age of the bones. Chief Doucette commented, “Finding human remains is very unusual and does not happen a lot. I can only think of a couple of times in my career where human remains have been found.”