Graduate School Semester Three

Wow, semester three has come and gone for me. It happened so fast, yet the process felt so long, like usual.  My classes in review:

HP204: Historic Preservation: Development Economics

St. Albans House, 60 Lake Street, St. Albans VT

Development Economics was a class about preservation rehab project planning and implementation with funding, tax credits, design ideas — touching on all aspects. The semester long group project allowed us to create a reuse plan for the building and conduct a feasibility study (including marketing analysis, code review, conditions assessment), draw floor plans, develop construction estimates and figures, find funding sources, and put everything together in a professional project proposal and presentation. My group chose the St. Albans House, a former railroad hotel and an important, but neglected landmark in the City of St. Albans. It has most recently been used as a bar and apartments. This is also a “real” project for the Preservation Trust of Vermont, who has purchased a year option on the property. It was a hard project (particularly those estimates), but since we liked the St. Albans House so much, it was doable.

HP302: Community Preservation Project

The Base Box at Mad River Glen Ski Area. The single chair lift is on the right.

The community preservation class continues History on the Land in the sense of the landscape history. We discussed the process of steel making, industrial landscapes, trails, historic bridges, and other topics. The project purpose was to give us the opportunity to work with a community organization and to become advocates for historic preservation while completing our project. My group worked on a National Register nomination for Mad River Glen Ski Area. Ski areas have not been nominated in the past, so we were working with a large “new” for the NR and figuring out how to adapt it to the NPS forms. Trails, buildings, ski machinery, landscape features, maps, boundaries, photographs … it was a giant project, but a great learning experience.

HP307: Architectural Conservation II

Addison Town Hall on VT Route 22A, Addison, VT

I’ve talked about my architectural conservation class more than once on here, so you know that the semester long project was a series of conservation assessments: windows & doors, exterior, and interior. I loved this building, so it made the long reports (and the formatting) enjoyable. I was really glad to have the opportunity to study one building and spend time in it and to love it.

HP303: Internship

 

A bridge construction scene from Chimney Point, July 2010.

My internship was really over the summer, but the credit counts during fall semester because it requires a professional report and presentation. I spent my summer with the Vermont Agency of Transportation as the Historic Preservation Monitor for the Lake Champlain Bridge Replacement Project, as stipulated by the Programmatic Agreement. In addition I conducted regulatory review for VTrans (think Section 106 and Section 4f). I loved it and have continued the job since.

UVM HP Class of 2011 internship presentations.

 

And of course, we had our comprehensive exam, a 4 hour, 4 essay question test that you need to pass to graduate. It included topics from all three semesters. It was a bit intimidating, but we all survived.

So that’s a wrap. For me, this semester was the most hectic as I balanced work and a full course load. I’m relieved to have survived successfully. And now it’s back to the working world!

UVM Historic Preservation Internship Presentations

You are cordially invited to the 2010 University of Vermont Historic Preservation Internship Presentations that will be held on Wednesday, October 20, from noon to 4PM in the Chittenden Room (room 413) on the top floor of the Dudley Davis Center on Main Street on the University of Vermont campus in Burlington, VT.

Presentations are scheduled as follows:

  • 12:00-12:15 Meghan O. BezioPhiladelphia Historical Commission, Philadelphia, PA
  • 12:15-12:30 Kate A. DellasRice Design Alliance, Houston, TX and Nantucket Preservation Trust, Nantucket, MA
  • 12:30-12:45 Emily A. Morgan, Planning and Zoning Department, City of South Burlington, VT
  • 12:45-1:00 Brennan C. Gauthier, New Hampshire Department of Transportation, Concord, NH
  • 1:15-1:30 Kristen M. GillottQueen City Soil & Stone, Burlington, VT
  • 1:30-1:45 Lucas F. HarmonCentral Park Conservancy, New York, NY
  • 1:45-2:00 Adam D. KrakowskiPreservation Unlimited, Montpelier, VT and Meeting House Furniture Restoration, Quechee, VT
  • 2:00-2:15 REFRESHMENT BREAK
  • 2:15-2:30 Kathleen M. MillerCultural Landscape Inventory Program, Intermountain Regional Office, National Park Service, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • 2:30-2:45 Scott C. DerkaczCitywide Monuments Conservation Program, Parks and Recreation Department, New York City, NY
  • 2:45-3:00 Kaitlin J. O’SheaVermont Agency of Transportation Environmental Division, Montpelier, VT
  • 3:00-3:15 Jennifer H. Parsons, Woodstock Trails Partnership, Woodstock, VT and photovoltaic installation reviews under supervision of Liz Pritchett Associates, Montpelier, VT
  • 3:15-3:30 Sebastian Renfield, Pecos National Historical Park, Pecos, New Mexico
  • 3:30-3:45 Mary Layne Tharp, Historic Windsor, Windsor, VT
  • 3:45-4:00 Paul J. WackrowHistory Program, National Park Service, Boston, MA
The public is welcome to attend some or all of these graduate student presentations.

If you’re in the Burlington, VT area and would like to learn more about the program and the students, please come join us! If you have any questions, please contact:

Prof. Thomas Visser, director
Historic Preservation Program
207 Wheeler House
University of Vermont
133 South Prospect Street
Burlington, VT 05405
thomas.visser@uvm.edu

Grad School Semester Two

Well, semester two ended about three-and-one-half months ago, and I’ve yet to write about it. Was I that tired from the semester? Perhaps. Indulging in summer vacation and the freedom from homework and paper writing? Probably. Anyway, seeing as semester three begins in one week, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the previous one.

My classes included Preservation Law, Architectural Conservation I, History on the Land, and Historic Preservation Practice Methods. The semester proved to be challenging and extremely worthwhile. Whereas semester one was more of a review in terms of material and theory, semester two built on that work and delved into new lessons.

While I was familiar with preservation law, I had never studied Section 106 and Section 4(f) in-depth. The verdict? Thank goodness for preservation laws. We don’t necessarily think about these laws everyday, but these laws, however flawed, are the reason that we are able to do much of what we do in preservation. Preservation law was hard, but in an exhilarating manner.

Weekly lab studies and reports in Architectural Conservation addressed the problems of building materials and finishes (wood, concrete, paint, brick, plaster).  The biggest lesson: moisture is the cause of all problems in buildings. I’m kidding; sort of. (It’s actually moisture in the wrong places.)

A case study for architectural conservation.

History on the Land was my favorite class of all time, and one that I would recommend to anyone. Through readings and interesting class lectures, we discussed the built environment by way of parks, trails, town planning, buildings, streetcars, railroad corridors, canals, roads, neighborhoods, factories, bicycles, automobiles, and the development of roadside America. It was simply amazing and challenging in the way we took tests, wrote papers, and used information and resources. I enjoyed spending hours in the periodicals section of the library and analyzing patents for playground equipment.

The Narragansett Machine Company

Lastly, Preservation Practice Methods taught us how to write a National Register Nomination and a Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credit application, both of which have their own hurdles, but are essential skills for professional preservationists. Photography, building descriptions, creative solutions, and teamwork were important aspects of these projects.

The front entrance of the house from my NR nomination.

All in all, the semester couldn’t have been more exhausting, but it was fulfilling and made me a stronger preservationist. And of course, it was fun to end with a field trip and a paint party!

Paint party in Wheeler House!

Preservation in Pink colors. Decorative painting is not my skill, huh?

Grad School, Round Two

Here we go again. Grad school semester two began last Tuesday and my classes are pulling full steam ahead — forgot that easing into the semester week. Readings, homework, projects, field work, field trips, everything is marked in my planner. And just one glance through the next few months says that it going to be one challenging semester. Of course, a challenge is always bitter-sweet; something that is often difficult while it’s occurring, but highly appreciated and worthwhile when finished. Luckily, historic preservation tends to be enjoyable even when it’s difficult.

Last semester was often a complementary review to my undergraduate studies; by this I mean that material was familiar, but presented in a new way, one that allowed for a different approach to the subject and one that allowed me to apply my skills to new projects. This semester seems to be new material, that of which I am less familiar with and have not had an opportunity to study or practice in-depth. My courses include Historic Preservation Law, Historic Preservation Practice Methods (think Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credits and National Register Nominations), Architectural Conservation I, and History on the Land (think reading the cultural landscape past to present). I am excited by the projects and research and by the vast amount of information that I will learn this semester. We first year students are also figuring out summer internships and some of us, thesis ideas.  This semester will certainly call for a lot of coffee. However, it seems that my classmates and I are up for the challenge.

Just some of my books for the semester. I had to rearrange my bookshelves, particularly to make room for those binders, which are filled entirely with course packets and reference materials.

The benefit of graduate school, aside from the obvious, is the great improvement to my preservation related library. I love receiving a new syllabus and ordering new (well new to me, but always used) books and waiting for them to arrive in the mail. So often in college I could not wait to sell back my books after final exams, unless they were preservation books. I kept those. Now I don’t get any money after final exams, but I do have a nice collection of books that interest me in and out of classes.

Stacks of other books for my classes lie elsewhere around the apartment because they do not all fit on the (many) bookshelves.

(For anyone interested in the UVM Historic Preservation Program visit the website here or read the course syllabi here.)

School related posts will appear throughout the semester. Any other preservation students want to share their semester anecdotes and lessons?

Anthropology, Archaeology, Space, Historic Preservation

Every once in a while, someone writes an extremely detailed and well thought out comment on PiP. Since I am unsure of how many people read comments I post, I like to share them with all readers by making it a separate post. Here is one such example.

First, read the Landmarks Shaping Me post. Now, to the comments. Kristin Landau is a PhD student at Northwestern University in Illinois; she studies anthropology and archaeology as reflected by her comments. Often Kristin draws connections between anthropology and historic preservation. See below and feel free to continue the conversation:

________________________________

I think what’s most interesting about space/place [space being a mathematical function and place being infused with meaning, cf. de Certeau] is exactly as you say: we shape and are shaped by space/place. Conceptions of space/place are thus recursive or dialogic and they are multiscalar. We influence and are influenced by, make and are made by, places at all levels – individual, familial, community, societal, regional, hemispherical, etc. So the group of us who spent a lot time in Mrs. Morahan’s room made that room what it was – gave it its meaning. The room, in turn, shaped our last few years of high school, on an individual and group level as you demonstrate, Kate.

More challenging is getting at notions of space/place in other cultures (e.g., Japanese mobile [shoji] screens, which act like dividers rather than walls in a house) and how they change (or not) over time and geography. In archaeological contexts for example, concepts of space/place are inferred by referential linguistics (when/if written language exists) or representations of space (i.e., murals and iconography) or settlement patterns and elements of city planning. I would argue that universally, notions of space/place are primarily structured by so-called astronomy as well as the geographic landscape. The movements of the sun, moon and stars from and with the Earth’s perspective is formative. This would do well to explain the similarities – and differences – among creation stories the world over.

Within archaeology, the subfields of landscape and cognitive archaeology (and more generally British social anthropology) assess critically notions of space/place. For a long term paper this year I am working on explicitly incorporating these two fields with archaeoastronomy – the study of the practice of astronomy in culture. I argue that studying another culture’s astronomy (or astronomIES) will lead us to a better understanding of how they thought about things, how they conceived their landscape and how they made sense of and ordered their universe (i.e., worldview and cosmology). And we would also approach a more refined understanding of concepts of space/place and place-making. This, in response to some who have stated the futility and irrelevancy of archaeoastronomy for anthropology.

Nevertheless, your points bode well Kate, and it seems like historic preservation and anthropology intersect and can be mutually informative in the realm of space/place.

Vermont Barn Census

Here in Vermont we love barns. Barns are symbols of the Vermont lifestyle that people live or at least envision. As my professor pointed out, barns are on the official highway road map. People picture big red barns amongst the rolling green hills.  However, agriculture is changing fast everywhere and that does not exclude Vermont. Ways of life are never immune to jumps and slips in technology and economy. Long winters wreak havoc on the historic structures and every year more are lost to the climate, to development, to lack of necessity, etc. How does one state go about documenting all of these barns and farm structures?

Meet the Vermont Barn Census, established by Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, University of Vermont Historic Preservation Program, Historic Windsor’s Preservation Education Institute, Save Vermont Barns, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, and Preservation Trust of Vermont with funding from Preserve America. The short version is this: volunteers across the state can visit the website, learn everything they need to start the survey, and then submit the information through the website. It’s an incredibly innovative way to involve the public’s help. Individuals, communities, historical societies, students, teachers, anyone is invited to assist on the census in hopes of, in the end, gathering a complete survey of Vermont barns in order to establish how many are standing, how many have fallen, and how the landscape has changed.

Insert the UVM’s Historic Preservation 206 class of Researching Historic Sites and Structures. As part of our class project, we are working on the census (and adding our own in class twist to research for other purposes). We’ll be out there photographing, recording, and later researching the barns and communities. Who doesn’t love a good barn? I’m psyched.

Across the country, my cousin Evan Robb, Project Manager of the Washington Rural Heritage project, informed me that Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation also has a Heritage Barns Project. I imagine many states have the same. Perhaps some could take a lesson from Vermont and enlist volunteers, if they do not already.

Do you live in Vermont? You can help! Join in the fun. The Vermont Barn Census “week” will be October 2 – October 12, which is supposed to be the peak of leaf season. (A good atmosphere always makes for good, fun work, but you can work on this project all year round.)

Graduate School

Welcome to Graduate School at the University of Vermont. Now, read. Well, okay, that’s not the sentiment exactly (it was much more welcoming and exciting) but I am already buried under books and books and books.

Textbooks and reference books.

Textbooks and reference books.

Architectural glossary, anyone?

Architectural glossary, anyone?

Heavy reading, well recommended books.

Heavy reading, well recommended books.

I mention this overload of books for a few reasons. 1) I love pictures of stacks or shelves of books. 2) I am not sure how to adjust the Preservation in Pink posting schedule (it’s only my first week of classes) so bear with me. If you’ve ever considered being a guest blogger on PiP, now would be the perfect time! Seriously! 3) Posts will continue, hopefully in a mixture of academic thoughts, current events, and grad school anecdotes. Suggestions are welcome, however. 4) All of these books would be great additions to your preservation library.

For those who have gone through grad school, you probably know how I feel this first week of school (aside from psyched for our projects and field work). Any advice for the rest of us? For those who are new to grad school like me, good luck! And for those who are not yet there, don’t worry – it’s an important, personal decision to decide on when (and if) to attend graduate school.

The University of Vermont (UVM) is great so far and at orientation we received “free” coffee mugs. This is my kind of place. Oh, it’s “UVM” for Universitas Viridis Montis, or University of the Green Mountains. On the seal the phrase is Universitas V. Montis, hence UVM.

Thanks to all of the readers for bearing with the change in schedule over the summer and now.