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.)
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.
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.
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!