Coursework of preservation field schools varies from program to program, though most of the hands-on preservation schools focus on the physical restoration of building structures, how to read a historic building, and how to identify problems. Many wonderful programs exist to teach students these practices – the more preservationists, the better!
At Eastfield Village in New York State, the workshops offer lessons in different facets of preservation, perhaps facets that many of us often overlook. The summer courses here focus on historic trades and domestic arts, how to use the historic materials and repeat the methods in a modern era. Class curriculum varies from how to read a building to more unique classes such as tinsmithing, slate roof repair, baking & cooking, historic painting methods, traditional woodcarving, and many others depending on the year. See the 2009 course offerings.
When taking these classes, students stay in Eastfield Village, sleep at the tavern with traditional beds, eat traditionally prepared meals, and spend evenings by the fireplace with other students. Participants range from novices to professionals.
Eastfield is a village created by Don Carpentier in 1971 when he moved a blacksmith’s shop to his father’s “east field”. Since then he has moved many other buildings and recreates daily life between 1787 and 1840. Carpentier and other professionals hold annual, internationally respected workshops at the village.
Understanding the methods of the past in addition to the tenets and practices of historic preservation would be an excellent contribution to all of our skill sets. Life in and around the buildings and landscape that we preserve deserves just as much attention as the buildings and landscapes themselves.
Registration for the Eastfield Village courses is on a first come-first serve basis. If you go, have fun and let me know about your experience!