Landscapes of Succession: Paper Sessions VAF 2019 

Saturday, June 1, 2019 

Houston Hall, University of Pennsylvania

3417 Spruce Street

Session I - 8:00 - 9:30 am

BUILDING COMMUNITY – Ben Franklin, Room 218 

Chair: Betsy Cromley, Professor Emerita, School of Architecture, Northeastern University

Anna Andrzejewski, Professor, Department of Art History, University of Wisconsin-Madison 

Building Community in Nalcrest, A Florida Retirement Haven for Postal Carriers

     In January 1964, the first tenants moved into Nalcrest, a community built for retired U.S. postal carriers in Polk County, Florida. The brainchild of longtime union president, William C. Doherty, the Central Florida community was prompted by passage of Section 202 of the 1959 National Housing Act, which allowed non-profits (such as labor unions) to obtain direct, low-interest loans specifically for construction for the elderly. Groundbreaking was held in 1962, and very quickly 500 apartment units were constructed on 300 acres of land on Lake Weohyakapka.  

      Hailing from all over the country, residents came to Nalcrest to commune with others like themselves. “I love the sense of community here," says Annette Alversa, who moved to Nalcrest with her husband, a postal carrier from Long Island. Similarly, Sunshine Briguglio explained "down here everybody accepts everybody else…it's relaxed." These comments echo sentiments of other Nalcrest residents, who stressed a shared value system amongst those living there. Nalcrest wasn’t an isolated phenomenon; the postal clerks established Fedhaven a few miles away, and to the southeast was Salhaven, a community built by retired upholsterers union – all established in the early 1960s.  

     This paper explores how the buildings and grounds of Nalcrest worked to forge a sense of community. The rather undistinctive and uniform apartment units eroded a sense of class distinctions between residents and served to remind them of their similar backgrounds. The “town center,” meanwhile, worked to instill a sense of community; there they met for recreation and collect their mail (free from dogs, since they weren’t allowed at Nalcrest). But as much as design at Nalcrest worked to foster unity, it also worked to divide and segregate the community from its neighbors. Design was simultaneously inclusive and exclusive – a practice echoed in other age-restricted communities built throughout Florida and the Sun Belt generally after 1960.  

     Examining the buildings at Nalcrest in conjunction with postal records, articles about the community, and testimonials from neighbors, this paper considers the role of architecture in fostering relationships in these communities. In doing so, it considers ways in which people sought to connect with other self-selected transplants desiring to spend their “golden years” in the Sun Belt. How they made community through the ways they designed and lived in these communities reveals how people sought to regulate their contact with others like and different from themselves in an increasingly mobile American society after World War II.  

Jonathan Farris, Assistant Professor, Department of Art, Youngstown State University 

On Crandall Park: Settling a Jazz Age Suburb in Youngstown, Ohio

     Between the two World Wars, Youngstown, Ohio, saw an unprecedented increase in population due to the development of steel and other heavy industries. The city busily prepared for expansion, and the Realty and Guarantee Trust Company, local government, and a handful of rural land owners prepared for the development of a new suburb for the elite and upper middle classes to the north of the city as it then existed. Making use of the land previously occupied by the Youngstown Country Club (which moved further north in 1912) and nearby rural lots, a new suburb was platted. A ravine dubbed Andrews Hollow (after the owner of a former quarry which occupied it) became a park named after the largest donor of land to the cause. The lots along Tod Lane to the park’s north, Redondo Road to its south, and Guadalupe Avenue to its west became sought after by the city’s rising entrepreneurial and professional classes. Using fine grained research in primary documents such as directories, censuses, and local histories, this paper will endeavor to show that the houses on the park significantly represent distinct individuals who cultivated specific notions of success and identity.

     Close examination of documents reveals distinct clusters of identity appropriating park frontage for new found or speculative success. A group of households distinctively belonging to the city’s mercantile Jewish elite formed on Tod Lane, and houses of local contractors appeared along Redondo and the intersecting “curve” of Catalina Avenue. Initially two up and coming Italian wholesale grocers also took pride of place along the park. However, as more “old American” professionals and even a few of the upper tier of the laboring classes, shifts began to take place, exacerbated by the Great Depression. While mapping different populations of home owners (and indeed servants), provides one kind of evidence, the buildings themselves provide another more specific to the individual inhabitants. Many houses represented owners a specific ideal of attainment and prestige. Interrogating the houses as evidence will show that this suburb was more than simple “spec” housing, but a concrete representation of personal attainment to its inhabitants. While the paper significantly focuses on the initial settlement of the suburb and its first transitions in the inter-war years, the conclusion will offer some reflection into the post-war trends (including the dramatic shifts connected with the factory closings of “Black Monday”) that make the neighborhood what it is today.

Katherine L. Farnham, Senior Architectural Historian, AECOM; Courtney L. Clark, Architectural Historian, AECOM; Samuel A. Pickard, Historian, AECOM

African American Communities in Sussex County, Delaware 

     Sussex County, Delaware is home to a number of small historically African American communities, including Belltown, Jimtown, and West Rehoboth. Founded in three different time periods, these communities were established on former farmland on the outskirts of larger towns. Belltown is a linear community located outside of Lewes. Its establishment circa 1840 is ascribed to free black clergyman Jacob Bell. Bell donated land for a church, which eventually became the center of the community, and free blacks built homes on small house lots along the adjacent streets. Belltown continued to grow into the first half of the 20th century, with residents largely employed in agriculture and fruit processing. In recent decades, as farms and agricultural jobs have disappeared, the community declined and now houses a decreased and aging population.  

     Jimtown, established circa 1880 and located 1.5 miles southwest of Belltown, began as farmland owned by African Americans. As with Belltown, small house and garden lots were subdivided from farmland along what is now Jimtown Road. This community was a small residential and agricultural enclave and remains as such today; Jimtown residents attended school and church in nearby Belltown and did not establish their own community institutions. 

      West Rehoboth is a grid-plan community located outside Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. It was established in the 1940s by Charlie Mills, a white commercial farmer who created the subdivision to give his black employees the opportunity to purchase land for homes. Early residents, shut out of Rehoboth Beach due to segregation, worked on the Mills farms or in local canneries and resorts. West Rehoboth flourished for a few decades, but began declining in the 1970s. Desegregation, loss of employment bases due to redevelopment of the area, and the incursion of street drugs and crime have had serious impacts on the community. Today, all three communities have lost much of their historic building stock and are threatened by rising land prices and encroaching commercial and vacation-housing developments. However, they retain their identity as historic African American communities.    

      The authors have studied these and other African American communities during cultural resources investigations in Sussex County, conducting research and fieldwork to document what remains of each. This paper will explore the developmental history of the three communities, all of which are characterized by a continuous process of creating homes from modest vernacular structures, relocated dwellings, and manufactured housing. The authors argue that evolution and change of the physical components of each community seems to have been a constant throughout its existence, and that process may assume importance in its own right, in contrast to the stasis of preserved buildings. The authors will also examine the question of historic integrity and significance in communities where preserved historic architecture is not what defines the community.  

Michael R. Allen, Senior Lecturer, Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art, Washington University in St. Louis Landscape of Evolution

Historic Preservation and Uneven Development

Did vernacular American architecture become a vehicle of capitalist uneven development through the policy infrastructure of historic preservation tax credits? This paper examines the politics of cultural possession of vernacular buildings through the development of incentives for historic preservation that have become a central component of modern historic preservation in the United States. Although historic preservation often is characterized as a passive or objective practice of conserving urban architecture, in the United States the fundamental frameworks of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and historic tax credits are far from innocent tools. These frameworks are productive of contemporary cultural landscapes, and reinscribe the value of vernacular buildings through legal criteria that form public narratives of significance, and simultaneously exclude. The historic tax credit as federal or state incentive to conserve vernacular, everyday urban districts in enmeshed in market valuation and profit motives, while the tax credit laws require National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) designation that is based on problematic criteria of integrity and significance. The NRHP criteria for significance under Community Planning and Development and Architecture suggest that the actions of state power and capitalist master planning are more important than traditional settlement, while the integrity standards fail to account for the often severe alteration and demolition patterns in urban areas that were deprived if capital resources historically and today. Thus the framework of historic tax credits for preservation can (although not always) promote a discourse of vernacular heritage that reinforces traditional class stature, especially that of white Americans. This paper will explore the listing of NRHP districts and use of historic tax credits in Chicago, St. Louis and Detroit to determine whether historic tax credits are promoting unequal development and reinforcing the trends that have deprived many Americans of intact, thriving neighborhoods. The paper will analyze district listings and the use of tax credits against data available for the origination of traditional mortgages to analyze whether historic preservation practice is challenging or conforming to patterns of uneven urban development. This paper responds to the VAF call for Marxist readings of vernacular architecture.

RURAL LIFE – Bodek Lounge, Room 100

Chair: Warren Hofstra, Professor, History, Shenandoah University

Travis Olson, Architectural Researcher, City of Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation, Division of Planning and Preservation 

Folk Farmsteads on the Frontier: The Formation of the ‘American’ German-from-Russia Farmhouse

     Beginning in the 1880s a new wave of Germanic people emigrated from the Steppes of Russia to the western frontier of Stark County, North Dakota. There they began settling on land that had become available through the Northern Pacific Railway and had been advertised by that company’s land agents traveling to the Black Sea region in hopes of reaching new markets. This immigrant group, known locally as the Germans-from-Russia, brought with them Germanic cultural habits—traditions reflected in the farmsteads built in this region. 

Previous scholarship has largely emphasized the retention of these cultural traditions, but scholars studying this region have paid less attention to the ways in which this cultural group blended with other immigrant groups in the area and integrated with both American market forces and the landscape of the Upper Great Plains. Through the comparative analysis of extant farmsteads in southwestern North Dakota, this research demonstrates the ways that German-from-Russia settlers modified their cultural building traditions in reaction to this new landscape in an attempt to succeed in their new American environment. The transformation from traditional building practices is most evident in the region’s farm houses, which evolved from earlier adaptations of the Germanic flurküchenhaus plan into more ‘Anglicized’ or ‘Americanized’ versions of that house type. Further, immigrants on the Upper Great Plains had to cope with the reality of the natural environment. Without plentiful lumber, the Germans-from-Russia adapted their traditional house types for construction of locally-sourced stone and mud plasters. They also altered the locations of windows and doors and strategically sited their houses against the strong prairie winds.

    This research is part of an ongoing effort to understand and document the cultural landscape of this region. Based on two years of study and two field schools led by Dr. Anna Andrzejewski at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where teams of students have documented over two dozen German-from-Russia farmsteads, this paper tells the narrative of ‘making it’ on the North Dakota frontier. This research heavily relies on field methods supported by oral history and documentary evidence to understand the forces which shaped the built environment. By comparing structures built by first-wave immigrants and their subsequent modifications as well as second-wave structures and buildings conceived by their descendants, this research analyzes the ways that this immigrant group both responded to the natural environment of the Upper Great Plains and integrated into American society.   

JR Thuot, Professor of History, Université du Québec à Rimouski

Life and Death of the Seigneurial Environment in Canada’s St. Lawrence Valley, 1700-1970

     The seigneurial system of land tenure implanted in the colonial New France era has been a highlight in the evolution of St. Lawrence valley’s countryside. The domains created in that context represented the last word of agricultural development – activity which became the motor of the colonial economy starting in the eighteenth century. Lords, as well as their agents and business allies, generated in the furrow some of the most important farms of the valley, as well as industrial complexes. The manor houses, barns, stables and mills of these seigneurial sites figured as important landmarks for the local communities, setting the tone for the larger Canadian rural economy. Together, these buildings personified landscapes of dominance in the Canadian countryside, along with those of the other rural elites. Still, very less has been written on that specific topic by North American scholars. 

     Officially abolished in 1854 in the wake of the liberal movement, the seigneurial regime still lasted; the legal dismantle process was definitely over in the 20th century. At the time of the formal close, what was the overall picture of these built seigneurial environments, and how did they evolve throughout the twentieth century? Did they maintain their dominant position in their communities, or were they replaced by other farmsteads in the next decades? Our research wishes to characterize the vernacular seigneurial building by first appreciating the factors that determine the place held by the complexes in the rural economy, and secondly by bringing to light the social profiles of the seigneurs. 

     The demonstration will lean on the exam of iconography and material vestiges to give life to the architectural forms of the seigneurial domains in different regions of the St. Lawrence valley. Notarial records, parish registers and census will be useful to follow the path of these farmsteads and complexes owners, and to shed light on the identities of their regional competitors. Ultimately, this characterization will allow us to propose a classification of the different types of vernacular seigneurial buildings, as well as evaluating their general conditions throughout the successions from the beginning of the seigneuries. 

Derong Kong, Teaching and Research Assistant, Tsinghua University 

The Dong Oral Architecture: Carpenter, architecture and phenomena among the Dong people in southwest of China

     The Dong is a minority mainly living in southwest China, Guizhou Province. The Dong people built the drum tower, wind and rain bridge, village gate and house to accomplish their living environment with rich oral culture, social activities and customs. They do not have written language, the dissemination of knowledge mainly relies on the oral education and practice, forming a unique process and method of oral education, of architectural construction and the use of architecture. There was little continuous and comparative study on Dong architecture. In this paper these three processes are linked together and understood to produce ‘Oral Architecture’. 

     Oral architecture is a process through which the Dong architectural activity is reproduced and passed down through generations, letting people participate and observe phenomena, and thus apprehend the meaning of things and community. It is built on the relationships between people, activity and building. The series of activities that relate to buildings are simultaneously the motivation to construct intra-community relationships, to maintain traditions, and promote the broader process of living closely within their particular environment. The isolated events are united in a relation of succession, forming as the representation of this social construction process. 

     Through field research, interviews, literature review, case studies and other methods, I have collected information about the process and methods of the Dong oral education, of architectural construction, and the use and meaning of their architecture. Informed by architectural phenomenology, the paper offers a qualitative analysis of this data in order to summarize and understand the mode and concept of Dong oral architecture. The structure of the paper provides a general introduction to Dong society and culture, before analyzing the education and practice of Dong carpentry; the construction of the Dong house and the drum tower (the most important public building in any Dong village). Concluding part focus on how systems of meaning and ‘reading’ are supported by Dong building and their practices of everyday life, as well as the significant events of birth, marriage and death. Thus the term ‘oral architecture’ not only describes the process, but also reveals why and how the process of self-construction is accomplished.

Huaqing Huang, Associate Research Professor, School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Nanjing University 

Manufacturing the Industrial Countryside: Capital, Labor and the Making of Modern Tea Factories in Rural China, 1880-1980

     Tea, a major product of rural China historically predominated by small-scale manual production, is produced in a much more “industrial” manner than commonly thought since the past century, lending vivid illustration to the broader agenda of rural industrialization. This article traces the century-long process of tea industrialization in which modern tea factories, even in the disguise of vernacular architecture, have played a central part. Industrial factories in this sense are understood as a “social landscape” (Littmann 2004), to show how the capital and labor affected the construction and appropriation of modern tea factories, and how the latter was hired to “manufacture” the industrial concepts of production in rural China.

     The process is shown in three phases. From late 19th century to early 20th century, tea from China was faced with fierce competition from cheap industrial tea from colonial new producers like British India and Ceylon, which prompted Chinese industrial elites to import western tea machineries in order to save the declining industry. However, early attempts of industrialization mostly failed due to the strong resistance from below for its conflicts with small-family production. In the 1930s, an ambitious state-run tea plantation was established. The design and organization of the plantation was characterized by not only western-style mechanized factories, but also the centralization of farmland and the “deskilling” of selected tea farmers into tea workers to reform the labor relations. In the 1960s-1970s, also known as the era of People’s Communes, modern tea factories were further popularized in the countryside. By compelling all the tea farmers into working in the factories, industrial production manner was integrated into the “habitus” (Bourdieu 1976) of local people, forming an industrial landscape that has since reformed the tea ecology of rural China.

     This article is based on historic materials, including transcripts, photos and drawings, of early modern tea factories in China as well as related colonial producers. The archives have been obtained from various institutions including the Bancroft Archives of UC Berkeley and the Museum of Keemun Tea in Qimen, Anhui. Moreover, extensive fieldwork in the villages of Qimen and Tongmu provides lively memories from the past century as evidences of how the tea factories deeply interacted with capital investment, labor relations and rural everyday practice.


Chair: Daves Rossell, Savannah College of Art and Design 

James Giesen, Associate Professor, History, Mississippi State University 

The View from Rose Hill: Succession, Memory, and Erasure on a South Carolina Plantation

In 1860, William H. Gist, the fire-eating South Carolina governor hurrying his state toward secession, decided that his house needed a veranda. Rose Hill, as his place was known, was an austere, even plain, brick two-story building nestled in the cotton-dense hills of the Piedmont. While it was certainly one of the largest and most impressive houses in Union County, if not the entire Upstate, it matched neither his status nor his idea of what a successful and influential planter’s house should be. This paper follows the fate of that two-story columned porch, from Gists’s time to the present. It argues that that porch, and the view that it allowed, complicated people’s understandings of the future of the South itself. What Gist and others saw from the Rose Hill balcony embodied their visions of a future, and as the reality of that view changed dramatically from 1860 to the twenty-first century, so too did observers’ ideas about the possibilities of the house and its surrounding area. The paper offers a triptych of and from the house—capturing three moments that embody the radical environmental and social changes going on over the period. In 1860, Gist believed he saw a permanent landscape of agriculture and slaves. In the 1930s, Edward Shaffer, a visiting writer found the house in shambles, and saw from the teetering porch a hopeless southern future in the wreckage of the mansion and the erosion of the hills surrounding it. The final view is from an environmental scientist who visits the porch in 2015 and concludes that the sylvan forest that was creeping ever nearer to the now-restored house—part of a state park that flies the Confederate battle flag in the yard—belies the environmental costs of cotton farming. Taken together, these three views offer new insights into how succeeding landscapes—from a plantation to eroded wasteland to forested park land—relate to both the possibilities of the house and its historical memory. I conclude that without the encroachment of a forest that covered the gully-scars of cotton and slavery, the remodeling of the Gist house would not have been possible. The ramifications of that remodel continue to send a powerful message about what the environmental and human past means. 

Jennifer J. Lauer, Graduate Research Assistant, SUNY ESF Center for Cultural Landscape Preservation 

Designing the Counter Narrative: Confronting Social and Ecological Violence at Rose Hill

     Rose Hill is a haunting palimpsest with many violent erasures - beginning with the 1779 decimation of Nuquiage, a Haudenosaunee fishing town along the shore of Seneca Lake, by George Washington’s Sullivan Campaign.  In 1802, Robert Rose, an elite Virginia plantation-owner fleeing soil impoverishment, purchased this land and established Rose Hill, which he managed until 1837. The purchase occurred alongside the forced migration dozens of West African slaves from the former Virginia plantation to settle in cabins along the margins of the lake and perform labor under Rose’s sometimes cruel hand. 

     Meanwhile, in 1821, Scottish immigrant John Johnston bought land south of Rose Hill and introduced tile-drainage technology to the region. He trained his apprentice, Robert Swan, in a scientific approach to farming using drain-tiles to reduce soil moisture. When Swan bought Rose Hill in 1850, he laid 72,500 tiles to transform the marshy landscape into one of the most important model farms in the nation. Field-drainage became a driving force in the economic transition from subsistence to merchant farming in mid-19th century America. After the Civil War, the technology encouraged conversion of Midwestern prairies to agriculture, contributing profoundly to the the large-scale loss of American wetlands. 

      Today, Rose Hill is a house-museum operated by the Geneva Historical Society, who is searching for solutions to landscape interpretation. The research process I have engaged in reveals Rose Hill as a deeply contentious landscape, rife with conflict and discovery, and an important microcosm for patterns of American settlement and colonization, agricultural practices, labor relations, merchant capitalism, and changing attitudes toward the natural world.  This paper asks how landscape architectural design can tell a deep, contentious, and moving story of struggle, loss, invention, and human foibles at Rose Hill while also preserving the agricultural character of a landscape facing residential development pressure. 

In order to enhance the relevance of this landscape for today’s social fabric, I chose to curate two particular narratives: that of wetland drainage, and the history of slavery at Rose Hill. These narratives inspired speculative spatial interventions at the current Rose Hill site, as well as providing interpretive material for engaging encounters with the landscape. This process occurred while simultaneously rehabilitating the landscape to reflect multiple important periods in the history of the site according to NPS guidelines for treatment of historic landscapes.  

Wei (Windy) Zhao, Assistant Professor, School of Design, Louisiana Tech University 

The Meaning of 100,000: The Confrontation between Vernacular Tradition and National Heritage

     The Daming Palace Archaeological Park in Xi’an, China opened to public on October 1st, 2010, the National Day of China. It became a World Heritage Site enlisted in 2014. The archaeological park is part of a large scale project that seek to redefine the national identity in the context of globalization, and it was completed at the cost of over twenty billion dollars and with the relocation of 100,000 local residents. During the process of constructing this heritage, selected memories are celebrated or rewritten while others are suppressed and annihilated. Meanwhile, the civilians who were relocated not only left their homes, but also gave up their ways of living and cultural traditions, which had grown out of the ruins of this ninth century palace. Moreover, what was lost while establishing this new national and world heritage is not being documented and memorialized, but is instead neglected and manipulated. In addition, while all the published and unpublished materials are carefully articulated to present one narrative, any voices contradicting or resenting the propaganda advocated by the government are carefully censored.

     This paper examines the process of making the Daming Palace Archeaological Park and its impact on existing local traditions and cultural landscape. In addition to conventional archival research and ethnographical fieldwork, this paper decodes the underlying messages in published and unpublished materials, including scholarly work, news articles, photographs, social media, and personal accounts. While analyzing the ways in which the historic palace is reevaluated, reimagined, and reconstructed into a theatrical fantasy and a national icon, this paper interrogates the idea of authenticity in the preservation and presentation of this heritage site. More importantly, it challenges the current approach to preservation in China, where individuality loses its meaning in the shadow of collectivity, and vernacular accounts yield to a carefully crafted national memory and identity. This paper argues that the construction of the Daming Palace Archeaological Park defies the very definition of heritage: the newly constructed park is not something passed down from previous generations, while the actual heritage, the cultural landscape that was rooted in the palace ruins since the ninth century and the vernacular traditions cherished by local residents, were denied and destroyed.

Shreya Ghoshal, Research and Teaching Assistant to Professor Erica Avrami, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Columbia University 

Bde Maka Ska: Layers of Significance and Interpretation

     The eastern and southern shores of Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun) in Minneapolis, Minnesota have hosted multiple communities from varying cultures over the past few centuries, each of which have left their own impact on the land. In 1828, the first documented community led by Dakota Mahpiya Wicasta (Cloud Man) settled on the banks of the lake in an agricultural village named Heyate Otunwe. Less than five years later the Pond Brothers, a pair of Christian missionaries, arrived on the site and attempted to westernize the Dakota population. These two communities coexisted for over a decade and laid the foundation for subsequent white settlers.

The significance of Heyate Otunwe is obvious. Not only was the settlement integral to the later establishment of the City of Minneapolis, it is also of great importance to its original inhabitants, the Dakota people. But until recently, the only commemorative markers for the first settlers of Bde Maka Ska were plaques on two boulders—one for the white colonists, and a more hidden one for the Dakota people who lived there. While the Dakota people’s plaque only gives vague reference to their inhabitation of the land for centuries before the Treaty of 1851, which displaced them, the Pond Brothers’ marker and 1830s cabin were the subject of a preservation effort in the early 2000s. The cabin itself has been well-documented, reconstructed, interpreted, and even re-exhibited for the public.

     By their nature, commemorations simplify a timeline of events into a single object that represents “the whole” history. But rarely do they address all sides of the story, and rarer still are they created by the marginalized communities some are meant to represent. Today, recognizing that their history does not belong to the colonists, the Dakota community is reclaiming and expanding the narrative. The first, and most important step, was the reclaiming of the Dakota name for the lake, Bde Maka Ska, made official in January of 2018. The next big step is still in progress: a public art commission spear-headed by members of the Dakota community, demonstrating the ongoing Dakota ties to the land around the lakes.

ENVIRONMENTAL INFLUENCES – Class of 49 Auditorium, Room 230

Chair: Michael J. Chiarappa, Professor of History, Quinnipiac University

Sally McMurry, Professor Emerita of History, Penn State University

The American farm pond: toward a cultural, environmental, and landscape history

     During the twentieth century at least 2.5 million ponds were built on farms and ranches throughout the US. Most were installed after the Second World War with technical help and cost sharing from government agencies, mainly the US Soil Conservation Service. (The number of farms in the US was about four million at mid century and around two million at the end of the century.) How, where, and why these small impoundments came to be built constitutes a study that falls at the intersection of agricultural history, vernacular landscape history, and environmental history.

     I will first briefly review different ways farm ponds were constructed, sited, and landscaped, using examples created variously by intercepting flowing streams, capturing springwater, coralling rain runoff, etc.

     A middle section outlines phases in the history of farm pond building. Techniques, rationales, and programs were developed in the early 20th century in Great Plains states. With the New Deal came the Soil Conservation Service with its innovative decentralized structure of local districts. Pond building took off throughout the US, aided by funding, expertise, and soon by the availability of inexpensive earth moving equipment. Stated purposes for ponds were consistent over time and included water for livestock, irrigation, soil conservation, wildlife habitat, fish production, ornamental value, and recreation – fishing, hunting, swimming, ice skating, boating. Fire protection and spray water were added in the postwar period. Ironically the soil conservation arguments for ponds were weak; the pond was often framed essentially as a reward for following other practices like contour cropping. There is also some evidence that bottom-up pressure pushed officials to more openly embrace recreation as a valid purpose for conserving the farm’s “human resources.”

     The farm pond’s ubiquity alone makes it significant as a vernacular landscape feature, but it is also historically important as one element in a much broader reworking of agricultural landscapes fostered by the so-called “conservation industrial complex.” From an environmental history perspective, the farm pond and its associated features can be regarded as a “hybrid” landscape, manipulated by humans but also transformed by biota that arrived on their own. In the twenty-first century, farm ponds may be taking on new significance for their potential to address Anthropocene era issues.

     My sources include photographs and site plans collected in the field, historic and current aerials and other photographs, historic and current topographic maps, Soil Conservation Service publications and archives, scientific studies, and agricultural publications.

Dana Cress, Architectural Historians, GAI Consultants

An Erased Landscape

     The present landscape of Northwest Ohio is primarily rural with a significant focus on agricultural production. However, the area had drastically different resources and environments only two centuries ago. Land use and Native American policies during the early and mid-nineteenth centuries sought to erase the Great Black Swamp, which formerly encompassed a large portion of the northwest quadrant of the state. The expansive wetland developed during the Wisconsin glaciation, approximately 10,000 years ago. As the glacier progressed and retreated through the present-day Great Lakes region, the ice leveled the elevation and created glacial ridges and lakes. The resulting low elevation and shallow bedrock left behind from the glacier created an immense wetland environment.

     Euro-American settlement largely avoided the area as the nation expanded in to the Old Northwest Territory during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, viewing the landscape as uninhabitable. Following the War of 1812, the American government created Native American reservations for the Shawnee, Odawa, Wyandot, and Seneca nations throughout Northwest Ohio to assert political control over these native groups. The state and federal governments soon began to view EuroAmerican habitation of the region as necessary to impose cultural assimilation and encourage Native American removal. These entities enacted land-use policies for the reservations to erase cultural identities and encourage the spread of white American settlement. Additionally, the surrounding land was sold at low values to further encourage expansion. Native Americans were faced with the decision to assimilate or relocate. However, once all tribes were removed by the 1830s, the area’s new residents continued to struggle with traditional methods of agriculture. Efforts to drain the land were unorganized, often resulting in just displacing the water in to neighboring farms. As a result, the state government enforced several public works projects throughout the region to promote accessibility and profitable settlement. After decades of political action and funding, the state drained the swamp and transformed the wetlands into a mass-producing agricultural environment. By 1880, Ohio’s northwest counties became the nation’s leading producers of grains.

     Environments and landscapes are not always what they appear to be. Northwest Ohio has a delicately curated system of ditches and drainage networks that forced, and continue to force, one of the largest natural wetlands in the Midwest to become an agricultural powerhouse. Through the study of landscape histories, architectural historians can tell a wider narrative of cultural struggles and political motivation.

Tessa Evans, Ph.D. Candidate, American History, University of Tennessee 

Black Landscapes in the Southern Frontier: Geographic Literacy and Fugitive Slave Activity in Arkansas, 1820-1865

     This paper utilizes a theoretical landscape approach to understand the Arkansas territory in the nineteenth century. It explores the environmental and geographic literacy that enslaved people cultivated as they considered how, where, and when to run away. This type of geographic literacy reflected an intimate knowledge of the diverse Arkansas environment. Examples of this literacy include an understanding of the waterways, tributaries, and ports that connected people in Arkansas to other spaces in the Atlantic world (such as Natchez, Vicksburg and New Orleans), along with the timing of when to become a fugitive on the Southern frontier, based on seasons, weather, and the harvest of cotton. The knowledge of where Native American villages were located in regards to a plantation, and whether an enslaved person chose to abscond to these villages is also discussed. I argue that the physical environment of Southeastern Arkansas, along with the legacy of French property layouts that created backswamps behind plantations, provided more spaces for enslaved people to make decisions about fugitive slave activity, and in turn, led to an increase in runaway activity. Indeed, fugitive activity in the Arkansas territory had strong environmental dimensions, and analyzing this relationship between fugitive activity and the environment gives us a more three dimensional, tactile understanding of slavery and resistance as it unfolded on the ground.     

     A theoretical landscape approach argues that people interact with their physical surroundings on many levels, thus making a landscape a synthetic product of culture. Political extensions of control were literally inscribed on the landscape (through fences, walls, shipping routes, etc.), making powered relations visible. Through a close examination of runaway slave advertisements and extant maps, this paper looks for instances in the historical record in which marginalized people challenged and created their own rival landscapes through their understanding of the physical world around them. This paper finds that these new rival landscapes often extended well beyond the plantation, and even included parts of the larger Southern frontier and Atlantic world.    

Session II - 10:00 - 11:30 am 

MEMORIALIZATON – Bodek Lounge, Room 100

Chair: Dell Upton, Professor, Architectural History, University of California at Los Angeles

Margaret Grubiak, Associate Professor of Architectural History, Villanova University 

Gumby Jesus' on an Arkansas Mountaintop: A Surprising Landscape of Hate

     Visitors to the giant 65.5-foot Christ of the Ozarks statue (1966) in Eureka Springs, Arkansas most often see the statue with its supersized, outstretched arms as Jesus offering a benediction over the United States.  Many approach the statue reverently as a sacred object, while others snicker at its awkward proportions and inartful sculpture generating the nicknames “Milk Carton Jesus” and “Gumby Jesus,” a reference to the green clay animation figure pervasive in American popular culture.  The Christ of the Ozarks statue is just one part of a popular Christian theme park on the Arkansas mountaintop, which also includes a Bible Museum; a “Christ Only Art Gallery”; a New Holy Land tour; and “The Great Passion Play” performed on an elaborate Old Jerusalem stage set with 150 actors and live animals that still attracts 1,200 people a night during the tourist high season.  And yet most tourists are unaware of the anti-Semitic and racist beliefs of the park’s creator, Gerald L.K. Smith, and their unwitting complicity in those beliefs as they go about their leisure travel.   

     Smith’s so-called “sacred projects” are part of the genre of evangelical theme park that include Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s now-closed Heritage USA outside of Charlotte; the Holy Land Experience in Orlando; and the Oral Roberts University campus in Tulsa.  Yet Smith’s park differs in its foregrounding of his hate-filled views, including the anti-Semitic intimation in the Passion Play that Jews murdered Jesus.  This paper considers the complex landscapes of faith and hate within the layered history of the Christ of the Ozarks statue.  Rather than a monument to Jesus, we can read the statue as a monument to Smith himself, who is buried alongside his wife at the foot of the statue.  In light of Smith’s racist beliefs, the statue’s “snow-white” color, as a 1966 Time article noted, becomes ideologically laden.  And yet this history is obscured to most visitors given the distance and time from Smith himself, who died in 1976.  This paper thinks through what the Christ of the Ozarks statue means within the Ozarks tourism landscape and economy and its changing meaning over time.  This paper also considers how the statue’s tongue-in-cheek nicknames “Milk Carton Jesus” and “Gumby Jesus” mask the statue’s hate-filled associations by shifting its meaning to a more benign popular culture framework.  

Valentina Rozas-Krause, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley 

Demanding Apologies: Memorializing the World War II Japanese American Incarceration at the Tanforan Assembly Center

     Recent events in Charlottesville and New Orleans reveal that monuments and memorials continue to play a central role in our understanding of the past. While Confederate monuments are falling, memorials have become a ubiquitous presence in our cities. Interestingly, they have arrived alongside apologies, in the form of public speeches, economic aid packages, reparation laws, and physical symbols. My dissertation makes an intervention into the cultural history of the built environment by analyzing how apologies have materialized into memorials. What can now be called a ‘culture of apology’ offers a critical lens to analyze how in the last decades these two previously separate phenomena –the boom of memorials and the rise of apologies– have become intertwined. By analyzing the culture of apology as a widespread global phenomenon, my dissertation contributes not only to the understanding of contemporary memorialization, but also to the ways in which different societies deal with past traumas.  

     Based on a chapter of my dissertation, “Demanding Apologies” focuses on the future memorial for the Tanforan Assembly Center–a former Japanese American Incarceration Camp in San Francisco–and the demand of victims and their families to extend the official apology, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, beyond mere words. A series of on-site historic plaques and an exhibition of Dorothea Lange’s incarceration photographs at a nearby train station, serve as background to study the development of the new memorial. Where the Tanforan Assembly Center once stood, there is now a shopping center called “The Shops at Tanforan.” Originally built as a racetrack, Tanforan was damaged in a fire in 1964 and the shopping center was developed on top of its remains a few years later. The Tanforan memorial has not yet been built, but it exists in plans, drawings, models, meeting minutes, fundraising events, commemorations, newspaper articles and online blogs. Following these archival traces and engaging with the actors behind them through interviews and participant observation, I examine a memorial in the making. Thus, I analyze the design and iconography of the future Tanforan memorial –a figurative bronze surrounded by a landscaped memorial plaza–alongside the motivations of the main actors that have shaped it: a group of memory activists, a transit agency and a shopping mall developer (fig. 1). The paper concludes that these past and future commemorative interventions reveal the tensions between an unsettled memorial landscape and the Japanese American community’s ongoing demands for apology. 


Arijit H. Sen, Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Studies, University of Wisconsin 

Milwaukee Medians and Memorials as Everyday Commemorative Sites of Grassroots Resistance

    This paper examines roadside memorials as grass-roots counter-narratives of resistance against environmental disparities in Milwaukee’s segregated neighborhoods.  
    For the last 8 months, I have collaborated with a national organization called the Humanities Action Lab, to implement a community-curated public humanities project documenting how Milwaukee’s inner-city residents use their everyday built environment as a site of resistance against deep-rooted environmental injustice and governmental apathy. The Peace Gardens project is one of many lesser known vernacular place-based strategies that confront problems of crime and safety. Using careful material culture analysis and interpretation of many hours of oral histories with community residents, this paper documents how tactical use of visual and material culture assist impoverished citizens take back control of their public realm. 
     Camille Mays became well- known in 2015 when she started her Peace Gardens Project. The project’s goal was to transform the aesthetics of roadside memorials commemorating people who die due to gunshot wounds or automobile accidents.  Usually these sites deteriorate over time as dead flowers, empty liquor bottles, and deflated balloons collect dust. The City removes these objects if they receive complaints, but sans any complaint these memorials remain in place for years cluttering up the sidewalk.  Peace Garden Project MKE strives to change that landscape of roadside memorials and produce enduring, aesthetically pleasing, gardens that are maintained and cared for long after the event.   

       But the project achieved more than mere aesthetic improvements — it deployed beauty as a political tool. Mays who is black, grew up in Milwaukee in the late 1970s. Her childhood stories of Milwaukee’s North Side center around memories of bicycling on safe neighborhood streets and “seeing beauty everywhere.” Mays does not refer to art when she speaks of beauty— she describes an environmental quality that promotes positive values around an ethics of collective caring. Deindustrialization literally sucked those values out of her environment as empty lots, boarded-up buildings, crumbling infrastructure, and crime replaced the erstwhile walkable, economically stable, working class neighborhoods. The deteriorating physical environment, according to Mays is evidence of individual homeowners and renters unable to maintain their physical world. Crime, accidents, and car crashes transform the public spaces and roads into dangerous minefields, only to be reinforced by the economic apathy of neoliberal urban policies. Peace gardens achieve enduring social change because it brings community members together around collaborative labor, a shared sensory aesthetics, and an ethics of caring. 

Desiree Valadares, Ph.D Candidate, Architectural History, University of California at Berkeley

Making Native Space: Commemorating Japanese Canadian World War II Alongside Specters of Indigeneity along the Hope-Princeton Highway in British Columbia

     On April 1st 2017, the British Columbia Register of Historic Places recognized more than 56 sites, buildings, and landscapes as part of the Provincial Recognition Program’s Japanese-Canadian Historic Places Project to promote the study, management, preservation, and interpretation of these sites and their associated material culture. Included in the recognized places are World War II internment camps, self-supporting sites, and road camps, in addition to fishing, mining, and logging communities that confined Japanese-Canadians from 1942- 1949.

    This paper aims to reconcile the role of World War II landscapes, ruins and material traces in the larger project of government recognition and redress for historical injustices. I discuss recent efforts by the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre in British Columbia including my participation in the “75th Anniversary Internment Bus Tour” in 2017 to a range of WWII internment sites in British Columbia’s Interior. I focus primarily on Tashme which was the largest and most isolated that primarily contained women, children and elders of Japanese ancestry. The site is located 22.5 kilometres east of Hope, B.C., in the Sunshine Valley, surrounded by mountains. As a self-contained city, this camp once contained a livestock farm, logging camp, 50-bed hospital, large garden, soy sauce factory, butcher, general store, powerhouse, post office, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) detachment. The camp was made of nineteen avenues of houses with 10 to 20 houses on each row and a boulevard along the south side.

After years of neglect, the site assumed a new role as the Sunshine Valley RV Campground in 1998. The street pattern of Tashme remains extant, though the tar-paper shacks that once dotted this expanse have been cleared. In 2015, a commemorative garden was created by residents of the Sunshine Valley RV Campground to display objects as they unearthed items belonging to the internment period whilst gardening or on-site renovations. An enclosed area unofficially called the Tashme Museum features more fragile items that are preserved behind glass. A wooden barrack, funded and restored in 2016 by RV campground residents, attempts to recreate the material culture from the internment period. This 3-week ethnographic study of Tashme (Sunshine Valley R.V Campground) in Interior B.C. offers a lens into this cultural landscape’s evolution through an ongoing project of recovery and preservation that involves unlikely actors, informal landscape archaeology methods that include gardening and a community museum. I argue that ongoing commemoration of surviving architectural and landscape traces provides an enduring testimony to the conditions that characterized daily life in these spaces of displacement that confined “civilian enemy aliens” on the basis of their ethnic and racial identity, presumed loyalties, and alleged treasons.


Chair:  Clifton Ellis, Associate Dean of Research & Faculty Development and Elizabeth Sasser Professor of Architectural History, Texas Tech College of Architecture

Priya Jain, Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture and Associate Director, Center for Heritage Conservation, College of Architecture | Texas A&M University 

What’s in a name? Hillcroft Avenue to Mahatma Gandhi District

     Houston is widely regarded as ‘the most diverse place in America’. Becoming a ‘majority-minority’ city in the last seven years, Asian-Americans are its fastest growing ethnic group. Recent scholarship has focused on socio-cultural issues, along with some attempts to map their geographic distribution across the city. Yet, in a city known for its suburban sprawl, ‘no-zoning’ stance and generic strip-mall vernacular, it is hard to detect architectural traces of its immigrant culture. While there is a ‘Chinatown’ and ‘Little India’, they look very different from their more historicized versions in other major American cities. Here, they are automobile-centric strip-mall adaptations of post-WWII white suburban enclaves.

     This paper will focus on ‘Mahatma Gandhi District’, the commercial and social hub of the South-Asian diaspora in Houston. Extending a few blocks along Hillcroft Avenue, a major city thoroughfare, the district is visually identified via placards atop road signs- installed following a failed attempt to rename a stretch of the road itself to Mahatma Gandhi Avenue. The research will chart the genesis of the roadway in 1950’s as part of Sharpstown- Houston’s first master-planned community designed for the automobile, to its transformation beginning in the 1970’s as the cultural spine of a burgeoning SouthAsian population. Relying on ethnographic and archival research, it will analyze how the urban layout and architectural resources convey their cultural identity. How the competing demands to ‘blend in’ and ‘stand out’ play out physically? And how the ostensibly Indian ‘Mahatma Gandhi District’ actually represents a more diverse South-Asian population.

Alec Stewart, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley

From Swap Meet to Mall: Latinizing Southern California’s Multi-Ethnic Swap Meets

     In 2002, a long-struggling shopping center in the South Los Angeles suburb of Lynwood re-opened to considerable fanfare as Plaza Mexico after a $55 million renovation. Hailing the project an instant “Mexicotown” rivaling Southern California’s Chinese and Korean counterparts, journalists marveled over the dramatic architectural alterations based on precedents from across Mexico. A pedestrian plaza inspired by Monte Alban, arcades resembling those in San Miguel de Allende, and a replica of the Ángel de la Independencia in Mexico City all lent a sense of Mexicanidad to the mall’s rather ordinary chain stores and restaurants while explicitly acknowledging Lynwood’s recent demographic transformation from majority-African American to majority-Latinx.

     While Plaza Mexico’s renovated spaces today project an essentialized ethnic image, they belie their heterogeneous and multicultural influences. Shopping center architect David Hidalgo, born in East Los Angeles to Mexican parents, based his designs on his favorite aspects of Mexican culture gleaned from extensive fieldwork conducted after he tired of designing “boring malls.” Developer Donald Chae, a Korean immigrant raised in multiethnic Lincoln Heights, built his M&D Properties with revenues earned from operating an indoor swap meet—which after he re-clad it with cantera stone to resemble Jalisco’s government palace, made it Plaza Mexico’s anchor. With booths leased and operated by a diverse cadre of immigrant entrepreneurs (many from Korea), it is one of over 100 immigrantmanaged indoor swap meets in Southern California.

     This paper, which draws on site visits, personal interviews, and archival research conducted for my dissertation, analyzes three indoor swap meets whose spaces are legibly Latinx: Orange County’s Anaheim Indoor Marketplace, Los Angeles’s Alameda Swap Meet, and Plaza Mexico. All three are situated within repurposed buildings within low-income neighborhoods, all utilize theming tactics and cultural programming to attract Mexican and Latinx customers, and all are managed by diverse staffs. Considering formal design interventions executed by management as well as the ad hoc tactics employed by vendors, I observe that the abundant and loosely-regulated vendor booths contribute to a carnivalesque atmosphere that—in spite of its Latinx theming—fosters cross-cultural interactions. My work complicates the literature on “Latino urbanism” and “Latino vernaculars”—which privileges residential landscapes—by pointing to the polyphony of influences that shape many ethnic retail spaces. Instead, I propose that multicultural retail spaces are often the norm, contributing to (a la Wendy Cheng) a non-white “regional ethnic consciousness.”

Anisha Gade, Independent Researcher, Berkeley, California

Negotiated Visibility: Asian American Spaces and Identity Formation in Silicon Valley

     As of the 2010 Decennial Census, Fremont, California, a suburban bedroom community in Silicon Valley, was the largest municipality in the continental United States with a majority Asian American population. Even as scholars have explored Silicon Valley’s technological milestones, architectural historians have largely ignored the region as banal and uninteresting. Coinciding with the rise of Silicon Valley’s influence on the global economy, the occasion of new waves of Asian immigration beginning in the 1990s presents an opportunity for design researchers to better understand the impact of global labor flows on the built environment of Silicon Valley as the product of a dynamic, multiethnic landscape.

     Through ethnographic techniques, site analysis, as well as document analysis of local archives, architectural plans, and permitting documents, this case study delves into the demographic changes and resulting real estate development of Fremont. The paper presents evidence of social and communal activities facilitated vis-à-vis the physical design and use of Asian American faith-based institutions in order to understand the role of architecture and built form within a broader framework of sensory experience, materiality, and performance in animating processes of immigrant identity formation.

     The argument is organized around three dialectics – the physical and symbolic; the architectonic and the performative; the permanent and the temporary. Whereas Craig Wilkins has argued for understanding the performance of hip hop as a fundamentally redemptive project of “reclaiming the Black subject from the Negro object,” for Asian Americans in Fremont, the performance of culture as articulated through myriad negotiations of suburban space is fundamentally a project of visibility (Wilkins 2000, 10). The strategic positioning and use of architecture and design allows Asian Americans in Silicon Valley to publicly negotiate their hybridized identities as émigrés, new Americans, and global citizens.

RECREATION AND TOURISM – Class of 49 Auditorium, Room 230

Chair: Andrew K. Sandoval-Strausz, Associate Professor of History, Pennsylvania State University

PJ Carlino, Ph.D. Candidate, American and New England Studies Program, Boston University 

Bleacher Bugs and Fifty-Centers: The Design of American Baseball Stadium Seating, 1880-1920

     This paper uses visual and material cultural methods to investigate American baseball stadium architecture in the professionalization period and argues that owners manipulated comfort, cost, access and proximity of seats to segregate and control audiences.  Magazine and newspaper articles reveal owners’ and reporters’ stereotypes and presumptions about spectator identities that were at times embraced and at times resisted by fans. A close analysis of seat and stadium design from photographs and trade literature provide evidence for the intent of mass-produced stadium seating.

     In 1880, professional baseball was in trouble. Game attendance was dismal after a decade rife with newspaper reports of bribery, game throwing, gambling, drinking and brawling. To rehabilitate the reputation of the game, team owners built stadiums with seats designed to attract and retain men and women from across the class and ethnic spectrum of white urban America. By 1920, baseball had been transformed into a financially successful, popular, respectable American institution. The shared attendance of diverse peoples led some to claim a special democratic significance as a game with no arbitrary class distinctions. While it was true that only the poorest of Americans could not afford twenty-five cents for a bleacher seat, the design and arrangement of stadium seats also demonstrated that class distinctions were anything but arbitrary – within the stadium people were carefully separated through seat design, arrangement and ticket prices. Regardless of income, African Americans were denied entry into stadiums.

Stadium owners retained audiences through seats that provided predictable and affordable experiences. Box seats assured wealthier patrons an experience within a space completely under their control, grandstand seats reassured women and their male companions furniture upon which they could enact middle-class behavior and avoid being physically pressed against lower class fans; bleacher fans paid the least for a seat with few physical comforts but were virtually guaranteed entry into unreserved seats physically separated from the rest of the spectators. For the duration of a game Americans inhabited seating that encouraged fans to believe that they had achieved the principals of democratic union aspired to by the moniker the National Game.

Roy Malcolm Porter, Jr., Historic Preservation Planner, City of Tulsa, Oklahoma 

On the Bourbon Trail: Distilleries as Industrial Sites and Vacation Destinations

     On May 4, 1964, Congress in Senate Concurrent Resolution 19 recognized “Bourbon whiskey” as a distinctive product of the United States. As bourbon’s popularity has steadily increased, it has received more attention in the media, and numerous publications have celebrated its heritage and promoted its connoisseurship. Yet scarce attention has been paid to the sites of production—the distilleries themselves.

     Drawing on this author’s fieldwork, oral histories compiled from interviews with the employees of distilleries, and investigations of archives, this paper traces the evolution of the distillery as a type of industrial architecture. The analysis focuses on the transformation of the distillery during the emergence of the industry from its modest origins on farms to its current status as an enterprise engaged in a global marketplace, examining the response of architectural form to the process of industrialization, the requirements of regulations, and the aspirations of distillers themselves, whether individuals or corporations. Likewise, of interest are the transformation of the industry itself and the effect of that transformation on distilleries as the efforts towards the promotion of bourbon have cultivated an ever wider audience. Among those efforts was the development of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which has attracted over 3,000,000 visitors since its establishment and which has become among the most popular destinations for tourism in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Special attention will therefore be directed towards the creation of historic industrial landscapes in urban and rural locales and the consideration of the significance of the presently simultaneous roles of those landscapes as sites of industry and as themed spaces for destinations for tourism.

Cynthia Falk, Professor of Material Culture, Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York College at Oneonta, Cooperstown, New York 

Forever Wild at Sagamore

    This presentation, twenty minutes in length, explores the relationship between nature and the built environment in an area designed for recreation and escape. Focusing on Great Camp Sagamore in Raquette Lake, New York, it uses fieldwork and documentary research to explore both the era of initial development and the more recent past as preservation and public access have become priorities.   

     Railroad tycoon William West Durant built Sagamore, the third of his great camps in the central Adirondacks, from 1895-97. New York State had already created the Adirondack Park, a groundbreaking designation of more than six million acres of both public and private lands. In 1894, the state constitution was amended to keep the Adirondack state lands “forever…as wild forest lands.” 

     The forever wild clause did not apply to Durant’s development of his private holdings. Yet he took advantage of the setting to create an architectural style inspired by the wilderness. Following legal and financial difficulties, Durant sold Sagamore to Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt in 1901. Vanderbilt continued to capitalize on the setting, further refining the Adirondack style. After Alfred died aboard the Lusitania in 1915, his second wife Margaret Emerson used the camp as a place of retreat. In 1954, she transferred the camp to Syracuse University, which twenty years later sold the land around Sagamore to New York State. 

     With the potential of state ownership, which would have evoked the forever wild clause of the constitution and led to the destruction of the buildings, a non-profit organization was formed to purchase them. Today Great Camp Sagamore is open to the public for tours during the summer season. Additionally, unlike most historic sites, it maintains its original use as a wilderness retreat. Guests stay in the historic buildings and participate in educational, often nature-oriented, programming. 

     Sagamore offers a glimpse into the complex relationship between people and nature, which is often mediated through buildings and other “improvements.” At Sagamore we see the creation of a regional architectural style based on the natural environment. We also see how environmental protections later threatened the constructed landscape. Today Sagamore has an unusual, but increasingly accepted, model of preservation through use. Its remote location in the wilderness offers unique challenges but simultaneously attracts those who want to experience the wild from the comfort of a Gilded Age retreat.   

Ian Stevenson, Ph.D. Candidate, American and New England Studies Program, Boston University 

Enshrining the Civil War Vacation: Union Veterans, Familial Legacy, and the 103rd OVI Campus at Sheffield Lake, Ohio

     In the summer of 1907, over forty years after the Civil War ended, surviving veterans of the 103RD Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) gathered with their wives and children on the shore of Lake Erie at Randall’s Grove in Lorain, Ohio, as they had for decades. These Union Army veterans, mostly in their late sixties, voted to find and purchase a waterfront lot for future gatherings, to create their own permanent campground. That winter, they secured a three-acre lakeside parcel and by the next summer reunion had erected both a communal hall and dining building. Although the association funded these shared structures, it otherwise platted the landscape into thirty-seven uniform lots, which it leased exclusively to 103rd OVI veterans for private vacation cottages. While four veterans donated funds for a communal, 16-bedroom “barracks” on the campus in 1910, the ensuing seasonal landscape overwhelmingly catered to individual families. The campus, therefore, promoted both the veterans’ group memory and their familial legacy. 

     Based on fieldwork to the extant campus, this 20-minute research paper explores these vernacular buildings as very late iterations of the architecture of the “Civil War Vacation”—gatherings of veterans and their families to combine memory of the war with leisure. As an interdisciplinary project, the paper analyzes floor plans made from measured drawings along with historic photographs and traditional written sources to dissect why veterans invested substantial means into a vacation landscape they themselves would use for only a few twilight years. The paper argues that as Union veterans came to grips with their own mortality, they facilitated construction of leisure landscapes organized under the guise of memory to cement their own legacy among their descendants. It contends that these veterans committed financially to a memorial landscape they could script in a historical moment when the reconciliationist impulse among northerners increasingly supplanted an earlier vision of the Union Army’s triumph over a treasonous foe. In course, the paper reveals a cultural landscape that used artifice to work against the ascendant Lost Cause narrative, typified by civic monuments to the former Confederacy, in the first decades of the twentieth century. 

FIELD NOTES – Golkin Room, Room 223

Chair: Ruth Little, Longleaf Historic Resources, Raleigh, NC

Laura Grotjan, Ph.D. Candidate, Michigan Technological University 

The Addition of Leisure Spaces: Porch Additions in a Northern Michigan Community

     In Eagle River, Michigan, an 1840s log building, an 1860s Greek Revival style house, and a relocated log house also from the mid-nineteenth century have something in common: each appears to have had a porch added after its initial construction. Measured drawing, photography, deed research, census records, and examination of historic photographs are some of the research methods used to date the construction of the porches and to understand the rest of the histories of the homes. Over the years, Eagle River has transitioned from a mining port town to a lakeside vacation town, and the additions to these three buildings are emblematic of that. Likewise, the uses of the buildings have changed from year-round dwellings (and, in one case, a jail) to family cottages, second homes, and seasonal rentals. Ultimately, we hope to update the 1984 national register nomination for the Eagle River Historic District. In the amendment, we plan to explore change in use over time and to reevaluate the boundaries of the Eagle River Historic District, as one of the houses we have focused on is not included in this district. This field work has been completed during the Fall 2018 semester through a course in the documentation of historic structures led by Dr. Sarah Fayen Scarlett at Michigan Technological University by my classmates, Michael Bleddynn, James Schwaderer, Josef Iwanicki, Brendan Doucet, Gideon Hoekstra, and I.

Christine Henry, Assistant Professor, University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, Virginia 

On the Straight and Narrow: The Alleys Connecting Fredericksburg’s Courthouse and Jail

Fredericksburg, Virginia was a colonial city originally platted in 1728 on a regular grid, three blocks wide and six blocks long on the banks of the Rappahannock River.  Unlike Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD, larger and more urban neighbors to the north, Fredericksburg did not evolve a system of residential alleys that housed communities of servants and low-wage workers. Instead, the few alleys in this small industrial city provided access between the many levels of the local government and justice system, from city hall to market square and from courthouse to jail. These partially hidden passages provided ways for the legal framework of the city to operate.  Using historic maps, photos, and other documents in combination with contemporary documentation of the space and materials, this paper will discuss ongoing research that explores the evolution of these spaces from hidden passages for the transportation of criminals in the 19th and 20th centuries, to 21st century walkways shared by tourists and residents. 

Milena Metalkova-Markova, Associate Professor at the Department of History and Theory of Architecture at the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy, Sofia, Bulgari 

Vernacular architecture as an exploration ground for art, architecture and preservation relationship

     The paper will present reflections on certain educational aspects of vernacular architecture fieldworks organized in the village of Karpachevo, Bulgaria from 2014 to 2018 as a partnership between the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy in Sofia and Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust in the UK.

     The author will argue that an authentic preservation of vernacular buildings as a cultural phenomenon is possible only by a revival of the community spirit, collaboration work and shared living experiences as the vital conditions for the creation of a landscape of learning. When genius loci (the spirit of the place) of the particular location is carefully intertwined with the creation of a genius societatis (a spirit of the community) vernacular architecture preservation stop being a nostalgic return to the past or a tourist-centered utopia and opens the possibility for creative reflections of present day realities. Fieldworks offered the participants multi-tasking opportunities to get involved in documentation, research, restoration activities on the one hand, artistic tasks exploring the fundamentals of preservation and creative architectural assignments. Students from Bulgaria, UK and Taiwan shared skills and knowledge enriching local Bulgarian heritage within a cross-cultural perspective.

     The results has shown a multi-dimensional educational potential for the fieldwork participants in the following aspects: attaining a practical experience of working with natural building materials, sharing cultural perspectives and participating in an enriching collective creativity of an authentic preservation process.

Lunch Roundtable - 11:30 am - 1:00 pm 

DOCUMENTING SENSE OF PLACE – Bodek  Lounge, Room 100   

Chair: Elijah Gaddis, Assistant Professor of History, Auburn University

Gabrielle Berlinger, Assistant Professor of American Studies and Folklore, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Lauren Graves, Ph.D. Candidate, History of Art & Architecture, Boston University,

Rachel C. Kirby, Ph.D. Candidate, American & New England Studies Program, Boston University

Sydney Varajon, Ph.D. Candidate, English with a concentration in Folklore, Ohio State University  

Comment: Bernard L. Herman, George B. Tindall Professor of Southern Studies, American Studies, University of North Carolina

Vernacular architecture and landscape studies remain distinct amid the academic proliferation of the spatial turn for their continued insistence on the role of fieldwork and documentation. With the rise of theoretical approaches to built environments in a variety of fields, the continued, interdisciplinary utility of this field lies in the range and variety of documentary approaches. This roundtable panel discussion brings together scholars and practitioners to discuss documentary approaches to sense of place. Focused on the intersection of the theoretical and the applied, this discussion will incorporate methods from the fields of Folklore, American studies, history, art history, material culture studies, geography, and a variety of other fields that speak to both the historical distinctiveness of the Vernacular Architecture Forum and its emerging, expansive new voices.

Our particular aim is to think about how we might better bridge our own field’s deep history of field based research with the large body of spatial theory. The problem of studying and recording these more abstract impressions of landscapes and buildings pushes vernacular architecture studies toward new ways of understanding the complexities of the built environment. And it argues for a more central role for our field amid a renewed interest in places and their meaning and use. This roundtable then focuses on both tested and novel forms of documentation and the ways we might employ them to research the intangible, the ephemeral, and the theoretical landscapes of human habitation.

Each participant will offer short remarks on the topics outlined below before turning to a broader conversation with the panel and audience.

Session III - 1:00 - 2:30 pm    

SHAPING THE CITY – Bodek Lounge, Room 100

Chair: Jim Buckley, Associate Professor, Chair in Historic Preservation, School of Architecture and Environment, University of Oregon

Kristin Hankins, Ph.D. Candidate, American Studies, Yale University 

Litter Lenses: Trash, Photography, and Space in Philadelphia

     From early aerial photographs of industrializing cities to contemporary images shared on mobile phone applications, photography has played a pivotal role in defining the boundaries of urban space and shaping navigation of vernacular landscapes. Significantly, photographs have also influenced understandings of urban problems and political imagination of possible solutions. By focusing on the slum and its inhabitants, prominent Progressive-era photographers, such as Jacob Riis, contributed to the development of an influential archive of urban filth in their quest for social reform. The ongoing legacy of this work, and the ways of seeing the city that it encourages, will be interrogated in this paper.  

     Through analysis of both archival photographs of litterers and contemporary photographs of litter submitted via the city’s 311 mobile phone application, I will trace the work of visual cultures of waste in shaping vernacular landscapes in Philadelphia. I will argue that photography focused on trash creates an imagined landscape dominated by filth in order to support the ongoing push towards an urban landscape marked by nearly impossible levels of cleanliness. Thus, photographs linked to waste play a pivotal role not only in imagining urban space, but in actively shaping it. In the tension between these dual landscapes, ideas of responsibility and agency are negotiated in diverse ways.  

     The set of archival images I will analyze blurs the boundaries between portraiture and mugshots; these photographs, printed in the Philadelphia Record, feature Philadelphians who received tickets for littering and were thus required to attend the city’s “litter court” in the mid twentieth century.  Their captions identify the litterer, the fine she or he paid, and the litterer’s home address. The set of contemporary images I will analyze is pulled from an open database of photographs submitted by Philly 311 mobile application users. They are also accompanied by text, including a description of the problem captured in each image and the exact address. Both sets of images support a particular mapping of the city linked to trash and ideals of cleanliness, while reflecting shifts in responsibility. How do these sets of images track changes in the vernacular landscape? How do they reflect and support different ways of seeing the city, centered around filth? How can they provide new ways of tracking structural shifts in everyday spaces? 

Tamsen Anderson, Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, Hekma School of Design and Architecture, Dar Al-Hekma University 

“Burn Those Places Down”: Arson and the Transformation of Chicago’s Slaughterhouse Landscape, 1860s-1890s    

     Chicago’s slaughterhouse landscape has been indelibly shaped by Upton Sinclair’s novelistic treatment in The Jungle. By conjuring the fetid smells of the Union Stock Yards, Sinclair heightened the immediacy of the dreary landscape of factories and tenement buildings. On the trolley ride to the city’s southwest side, his protagonist, Jurgis Rudkus, notes a “strange, pungent odor” an hour before arriving in Packingtown. Despite municipal efforts, the slaughterhouse stench drifted to other parts of the city, outranging middle-class residents. Voicing his support for the protestors, in 1877, Chicago city attorney Richard Tuthill declared: “The people ought to burn those places down. They will, too, unless they get relief, and I would be one to help do the setting on fire.”1 Although ephemeral in nature, the foul smells emanating from Chicago’s ever-expanding meat packing industry played a role in shaping the metropolitan fabric. Beginning in 1863 and continuing over the course of three decades, vigilantes torched animal processing factories in anonymous acts of defiance, helping push fertilizer and rendering factories to other parts of the metropolis.

     Once deemed irrelevant, the sense of smell is now widely recognized as an integral part of modernity. Sensory historian Mark M. Smith argues that industrialization cannot be fully understood “without attending to the history of smell and smelling.”2 In this paper, I argue the same holds true for industrial landscapes. The public response to the smell of Chicago’s meat packing industry had a tangible, albeit now invisible, impact on the built environment. Scholars have failed to recognize the use of arson as a tactic to resist slaughterhouse smells in part because they have been too easily swayed by Chicago Health Department reports claiming to have triumphed over the stink after the passage of a wide-reaching ordinance in 1877. In truth, the stench problem was not so easily or quickly resolved as the Health Department’s tidy narrative implied. This paper expands the scope of study before 1865, when the Union Stock Yards opened, and beyond 1877, revealing residents’ ongoing reliance on arson and threats of arson to exert control over their environment. The factories that caused such olfactory distress no longer stand and visual evidence is limited, but the written record of lawsuits, news reports, and letters to the editor offers vivid insight into the little-known role arson played in transforming Chicago’s slaughterhouse landscape during the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Kate Howard, Masters’ Candidate, Historic Preservation, Clemson University/College of Charleston

The Vacant Structure Problem: The Success of Baltimore City’s Programs and Policies at Creating Healthy Blocks without the Loss of Historic Integrity in the Upton Neighborhood

     Baltimore’s working-class row houses are synonymous with its late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century expansion and growth, but in the modern era they are more frequently interpreted as symptoms of urban decay and decline. Baltimore City has, over many decades, addressed the issue of its vacant row houses through approaches that have inherently aligned with historic preservation goals. Although Baltimore’s revitalization programs are not explicitly meant to preserve the historic fabric of the communities they target, they do seem to have succeeded in making it more likely that the vernacular urban residential forms for which Baltimore is well known, and the communities in which they are embedded, will endure. Upton Neighborhood in West Baltimore, a struggling area with a deep history and long ties to the city’s African American community, is partially a historic district on the eastern boundary that has been the subject of such revitalization efforts. The paper explores 3 types of interventions: units owned by Housing Authority of Baltimore City, Vacants to Value, and Project C.O.R.E. (Creating Opportunities for Renewal and Enterprise) that began in 2016.  All of these have been used in Upton to address the issues of disinvestment and building abandonment, initially through demolition, but more recently through encouraged community involvement. These programs applied a range of methods to revitalize vacant and abandoned row houses, but they shared the common goal of filling buildings before they became too degraded to save or sites of unfavorable activity. By working to enable new occupation, renter or owner, Baltimore City has strategically attempted to prepare whole blocks to garner reinvestment, as opposed to focusing efforts on a single property. Intended to eliminate “blight,” the programs have incidentally achieved the preservation of the neighborhood’s historic architectural and social fabric by saving the working- class residential units. Surveying the residential row houses in the Upton neighborhood to assess and record current conditions of the buildings and their architectural integrity, occupied status, GIS mapping of demographic patterns and patterns of reinvestment reveal that Baltimore’s programs have guided the architectural preservation of a neighborhood whose history and whose residents have often been overlooked. 

DOMESTIC LIVES – Class of 49 Auditorium, Room 230

Chair: Dianne Harris, Senior Program Officer, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Valentina Davila, Ph.D. Candidate, School of Architecture, McGill University 

Venezuelan Domestics and the Representations of God in their Quarters

     Throughout history, Venezuelans have been social, economically and spatially segregated. The country’s extreme forms of spatial inequalities are ubiquitous and englobe large-scale issues like access to housing and the right to the city. Less exposed, yet culturally embedded, forms of architectural segregation happen inside the private sphere of the bourgeois home where historically domestic workers have dwelled. The servant’s bedroom, usually located in the service area at the back of the employer’s home, is close to the kitchen and far from the family they attend, leaving domestic workers with a deep feeling of isolation. According to interviews conducted in 2017 with Venezuelan domestic workers, these feelings of loneliness, inherent to their occupation, could only be mitigated by praying for a better future. Prayers and a deep commitment to God are the main bonding aspects of Venezuela’s culture. Extending beyond a weekly visit to the large religious buildings which represent the church, Catholicism homogenously permeates most aspects of the Venezuelan population’s life. God’s name is uttered in most conversations as part of everyday language conventions, and the Lord’s image prevails in most Venezuelan households’ décor regardless of class or social standing. In most homes, there is always a place for God traditionally represented by religious imagery. In the bourgeois home, for example, religious symbols range from a sizeable, custom-made altar devoted to the Virgin in the living room, a picture of the pope in the kitchen’s fridge, an elegantly framed painting of the Divine Mercy Image in the master bedroom to a straw cross on top of the bed of the servants’ bedroom.

     Over the last two decades, a series of political and social events taking place in Venezuela have opened up possibilities for domestic workers to change residence and move from the back of their employers’ house to a home of their own. This paper will explore how Catholic expressions and the material representation of God migrated and adapted from the servants’ bedrooms in bourgeois houses to the domestic workers’ new homes in social housing complexes. Based on the study of material culture and using an extensive photographic sample obtained on a 2017 fieldwork in Merida, Venezuela, this paper aims to better understand how vernacular architecture is transformed by faithful Catholics who prioritize the “presence of God” through the colonization of new, unexpected spaces.

Kimberly Gultia, Ph.D. Candidate, School of Architecture, McGill University 

Butler, Valet, Maid, and Cook: The Place of Domestic Workers in the Spanish Colonial Home of the Philippines (1848-1900)

     Domestic workers are a vital part of the everyday life of the upper class in the Philippines.  This situation is true today and was certainly true during the late Spanish colonial period (1848-1898).  It was common for the mestizo1 and European elite to have Chinese and native Filipino servants to run their household.  Most of these domestic workers lived in their master’s house, yet architectural studies on Philippine Spanish colonial houses only highlight the lives of the masters who belonged to the upper class.  Servants from the lower classes who inhabited the same domestic spaces have largely been forgotten.  To shift the focus from the social elite of Spanish colonial Philippines, this paper examines Spanish period houses to reveal the place of domestic workers in these houses and in society.  To contribute to a better understanding of race, gender, and class in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period, I ask: How was the social status of servants defined? And how did their social standing play out in domestic spaces? I argue that domestic workers in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period were visible in some ways yet invisible in others.   To uncover this (in)visibility, I present textual and visual evidence to illustrate how attitudes about domestic workers are materialized in the Spanish period home.  I analyzed textual evidence from the first-hand accounts of Manila native Ramon Reyes Lala as well as travelogues of foreigners who visited and lived in the Philippines during the late nineteenth century.  I also examined visual evidence such as photos from the aforementioned accounts and travelogues, as well as archival architectural drawings and photographs from books.  This study reveals that domestic workers in Spanish colonial Philippines are visible as they are mentioned and photographed in accounts and travelogues; however, domestic workers are also rendered invisible in the design of Spanish period homes because their tasks were relegated to the back of the house making their presence hidden.  Furthermore, the visibility and invisibility of servants in Spanish colonial Philippines express paternalistic colonial power relationships.  Finally, this research hopes to make a significant contribution to the study of Philippine architecture as well as add to the broader discourse of social hierarchies in the colonial context. 

Tania Gutierrez-Monroy Ph.D. Candidate, School of Architecture, McGill University 

Domestic Geographies at War: Ephemeral Architectures Built by Women during the Mexican Revolution

     This paper examines the ephemeral homes built by women during the Mexican Revolution, a nationwide struggle started in November 1910. In the decade that followed, crowds of working-class women travelled across the country alongside the official and rebel armies fighting to seize power. These camp followers are famously known as soldaderas. Besides attending to the needs of food, supplies, and healthcare of contingents, they created a practice of building transient architectures that transformed the relationship between war, domesticity, and the gendered roles of early twentieth-century Mexico.

     Travelling with household objects and finding materials along their way, women improvised dwellings for soldiers, transposing domestic space onto the battlefield. This research focuses on the ephemeral homes that they constructed on trains, camps, and pathways. Soldaderas appropriated the sites where home and war spaces intersected: I argue that, in the fluid spatial processes allowing them to create these domestic settings, women architecturally rewrote their own agencies as social subjects, participating actively in the revolutionary fight.

     The crowd of camp followers was called impedimenta. It was considered an encumbrance to moving armies because of its slowness. However, the slowness of soldaderas, coupled with their constant engagement with sites to set up camp, resulted in a deep knowledge of and attachment to place. If men directing a contingent were to know a landscape for successful military moves, women were to connect with it through ways of being in that landscape. Females had to build homes where fighters could afford a restful— even if short-lived—being in space. This required a fine knowledge of the material qualities of a place: wood, rocks, soil, water, topography, or the physical features of a city/village. Unlike merely reading the morphology of a place to plan the movement of military columns, women engaged with its material qualities to shape architectures for being: homes built to rest, spend time with partner and offspring, eat, and sleep. To transform both the geographies they traversed and their own spatialities, women engaged in an iterative task of reconnaissance, appropriation, and place-making.

     This research gathers evidence from the records of an oral history project by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, as well as from photographic and archival collections. It seeks therein visible spatial traces left by women. However, as Tabea Linhard argues, women’s stories come to us in fragments. 1 Observing the architectures created by soldaderas calls for reading the invisible space between those fragments. The existing material, if analysed with attention, speaks eloquently from its sites of absence, from the negative space amid the visual and the textual.

Shisachila Imchen, Ph.D. degree recipient, University College London 

Experience, Memory, and the Perpetuation of the Morung in Nagaland

In the present day state of Nagaland in northeast India, many of the traditional functions of the morungs (bachelors’ or men’s houses) have become redundant as a result of various factors that included colonial administration and policies, the spread of Christianity and modern education, and the introduction of new job opportunities. In addition, in many Naga villages, morungs are no longer found in tangible form. This paper (based on studies carried out as part of my doctoral research) argues that, contrary to what some scholars claim, the lack of the morungs as physical buildings cannot be taken to assume that morungs are no longer relevant in Naga society. The study delves into the important role that morungs play in the formation, understanding, and articulation of feelings of belonging to one’s clan in the village and to the village as a whole. It explores, adopting the phenomenological approach as a corner-stone, the embodied experience of the morung, its spaces, and the objects and other people encountered within. Such experience through engaging with the morung shapes ideas about one’s identity in the Naga village and has a significant role to play in giving meaning to place. These experiences may be communicated to other members of society, as well as from one generation to another, who in turn may interpret and create meaning from what has been communicated to them. Hence in villages where morungs may not exist as physical buildings, the sites where morungs once stood are remembered and rituals associated with the morung continue to be carried out there, thus demonstrating the continued relevance of morungs to present day Naga society.


Chair: Tim Davis, Senior Historian, Historic Structures & Cultural Landscapes Program, National Park Service

Alyssa Kreikemeier, Ph.D. Candidate, American Studies, Boston University 

A Wild Road: The History and Promotion of the Beartooth Highway

The Beartooth Highway, a 67 mile road that traverses the Montana-Wyoming border from Red Lodge, MT to Yellowstone National Park, has been dubbed “the most beautiful highway in the world” and is described in promotional material as “precious,” “wild,” and “heavenly.” Promoters exploit the roadway’s rarity as one of the few roads that travels above 11,000 feet. Management of this tourist destination, accessible only seasonally in a region with heavy snow accumulation, is shared awkwardly between the National Park, Federal Highway Administration, and the Montana Department of Transportation (DOT). Unlike its designation on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014, tension surrounding funding and management of the roadway is not a twenty-first century issue. This paper begins by situating the tensions of managing the highway against the history of conflict over land development dating to the early twentieth-century. In tracing the conflict that accompanied the establishment of the highway, it looks specifically at how the road shaped and was shaped by the landscape and environment as well as the social spaces it connected and altered. Built in the 1930s, the Beartooth Highway is both representative of New Deal initiatives to provide jobs and an exceptional case as the only road built under the 1931 National Park Approaches Act. Residents of Red Lodge, a coal town left desolate when the mine closed situated at the beginning of the highway, saw tourism as the path to survival and a scenic road to Yellowstone National Park as the ticket. The second portion of the paper explores how the roadway was created as a tourist destination, and eventually a site of historic significance. The analysis pays attention to the role landscape views and ideas of the picturesque played in the promotion of the road and its later commodification in postcards, travel mugs, throw pillows, and a special edition hot wheels toy car. The paper closes with a short section summarizing the Beartooth Highway’s history in the twenty-first century, the battle over its designation on the Historic Register, and ongoing challenges to management. Following the evolution of this spectacular highway and the conflicts its building and management engendered offers a useful case study to analyze the tensions between technological improvement, historical preservation, and environmental concerns on the American Landscape. 

David Salmanson, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, Philadelphia 

Roads Map Power: Cold War Landscapes in Western New Mexico

The Cold War’s effect on the United States landscape remains under-studied. In this case study of Western New Mexico, I examine how road building to access uranium for both nuclear weapons and nuclear power changed local political, economic, and spatial relationships. Local Hispanos, Mormons, Anglos, and Navajos competed to control overlapping landscapes. As road building accelerated in the 1950s and 60s, so too, did power struggles over local places.

By the 1970s, these contests concentrated in Gallup, New Mexico where Native American activists, primarily Navajo, protested against the Anglo elite’s control of commercial relationships and cultural activities and, in particular, the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonials. Further complicating matters, the construction of Interstate 40 through town led to the destruction of the poorer, largely Hispano northside neighborhood bringing a progressive, reform-oriented, Hispano mayor to power.

The subsequent kidnapping of the mayor of Gallup, followed by a bloody street shoot-out, made national news and Gallup briefly was the center of much coverage and held a place equivalent to Alcatraz and Wounded Knee in the history of Native American activism. By unpacking the spatial elements of these events, I show, in microcosm, how both the Cold War and road building still have much to tell us about the history of the Civil Rights Movement and urban history in the United States.

Aaron Ahlstrom, Ph.D. Candidate, American & New England Studies Program. Boston University 

Landscapes of Beauty and Profit: The Development and Design of Massachusetts State Forests and Parks, 1904-1929

State forests and parks encompass millions of acres of land across the United States and welcome millions of visitors annually. While not as iconic as national parks nor as extensive as national forests, these state-owned sites nevertheless shape many Americans’ understanding of and relationship with not only the natural world, but also each other and their state government. Unfortunately, scholarship on the built environment has generally overlooked how these common and heavily-used landscapes originated and functioned. While landscape historians like Ethan Carr and Linda McClelland have analyzed the design history of national parks and environmental historians like Karl Jacoby have traced conservation’s consequences, few scholars have focused their analytical attention on state forests and parks.

This historiographical lacuna has limited our understanding of not just an important landscape type but also the intertwined political ideologies, scientific paradigms, economic motives, and local knowledge that informed conservation and public land management. This paper on the early history and design of Massachusetts State Forest and Parks (MASFP) illuminates how state-owned lands present a different narrative of environmental conservation, scenic preservation, and outdoor recreation than that of national parks and forests. I argue that between 1904 and 1929 a range of private organizations, educational institutions, state agencies, and local communities in Massachusetts strove to create publicly-owned forests that were both beautiful and profitable. This loose coalition established a reforestation program intended to beautify Massachusetts’ landscapes and generate revenue through improved timber management. This conservation regime transformed cutover lands and abandoned farms into valuable commodities and scenery. This story begins in 1904, with the Office of State Forester’s founding and ends in 1929, on the eve of the Great Depression and just before the Civilian Conservation Corps reshaped the Commonwealth’s forests.

Massachusetts’ public lands system presents a compelling case-study that, I demonstrate, was both reflective of contemporary state-level conservation programs and influential in shaping later ones. To draw these connections, I employ an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates methodologies from vernacular architecture and material culture studies combined with theoretical insights from environmental history and cultural landscape studies. Fieldwork conducted at three state forests forms the core of this paper, and extensive archival research helps situate these sites within evolving political, cultural, and bureaucratic structures. By conceptualizing these hybrid landscapes as simultaneously and fundamentally cultural artifacts and ecological systems, this work will add new dimensions to the study of American vernacular architecture and culture landscapes.

Taylor Rose, Ph.D. Candidate, History, Yale University 

The "Opening of the Clackamas": Multiple Use Geography and Log Truck Politics in the Oregon Cascades

Environmental historians such as Paul Sutter and David Louter have commented on the deep impressions that twentieth-century technologies—particularly the automobile—have left on modern cultural and legal definitions of “untrammeled” wilderness. But what might we learn when we interrogate the historical actors whose livelihoods depend(ed) on industrial machinery—bulldozers, trucks, and chainsaws—to “open up” the wilderness for work? In my research on the history of logging in the Oregon Cascades, I have found that during moments of rapid forest development, labor interests overlapped with those of recreationists. In the wake of World War Two, for example, logging outfits, with the aid of the U.S. Forest Service, built roads deep into the Clackamas River watershed southeast of Portland. In the process, they created a multiple-use national-forest geography where Oregonians expressed enthusiasm for, and worked through their anxieties about, the direction of public lands development. My research ends in 1964, when massive floods destroyed much of that road infrastructure, but I wonder how better understandings of extractive technologies, and the people who utilize them, might invigorate scholarship about work, nature, and the built landscape? How do gasoline-powered technologies function as lenses through which workers and recreators see the environment and channel their critiques of one another? What role do expressions of techno-masculinity play in staking out territories of work and play? What does western US history have to say about the rise of mechanization and the decline of unskilled or semi-skilled extractive labor (and the unions that represent loggers, miners, and farmers)? By engaging with the history of technology and environmental history, historians of vernacular architecture might come to a better understanding of how roads inflect and reproduce categories of place and identity. 


Chair, Andrew Dolkart, Professor of Historic Preservation, Columbia University School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Fredric Quivik, Quivik Consulting Historian, Inc. 

Central Stations v. Isolated Plants and the Development of a Middle-Class Neighborhood in Philadelphia 

     At the turn of the twentieth century, engineers debated among themselves whether the central station (akin to today’s large-scale central power plants) or the isolated plant (serving a particular entity, like a factory or a hotel) would prove the most economical model for supplying users with electricity. This debate spilled into the realm of real estate development. One example of such an effort was the Girard Estate’s early-twentieth-century development of a middle-class neighborhood in the Point Breeze section of Philadelphia. The central-station model won the day in the United States, and by the mid-twentieth century most isolated plants, including the Girard Estate’s, had closed, as large, regional utility companies came to dominate markets for electricity. In the era of climate change and renewed interest in decentralized generation of electricity, however, early examples of decentralized generation of electricity deserve reexamination.

     The Girard Estate was established in 1831 when Stephen Girard, the richest man in the United States, willed his wealth, which consisted of rich coal lands and other real estate, to Philadelphia to support the care and education of orphans, leading to the creation of Girard College. One parcel of land inherited by the Girard Estate was his farm in South Philadelphia. As the city expanded into the area at the turn of the twentieth century, the Girard Estate sub-divided the land into parcels, built duplexes of coordinated architectural styles for middle-class renters, and supplied those dwellings with electricity and heat produced at a nearby power plant. This paper describes the Girard Estate neighborhood (now a historic district listed in the National Register), the power plant that is extant a couple blocks from the neighborhood, and the technical systems that linked power plant and houses to supply residential heat and light. Drawing on archival records of the Girard Estate, the paper shows that the Estate’s system did not succumb to the arguments posited in the late-nineteenth century in favor of central-station electrical generation but rather fell prey to federal rent-control regulations imposed in the wake of World War II. Although the project returned to profitability after the rent controls were lifted, the Girard Estate proceeded to disconnect the dwellings from the power plant, installed a furnace and hot-water heater in each house, and sold the houses to individual homeowners. The Girard Estate neighborhood and power plant survive to embody this early experiment in district heating, cogeneration of heat and electricity, and residential design for the middle class, although the technological systems of the project are no longer in place.

Michael Holleran, Director, Graduate Program in Historic Preservation and Associate Professor, School of Architecture University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture 

Pueblo Water, City Water: Los Angeles zanjas, 1781 – 1904

     Until the beginning of the 20th century, most of the water used in Los Angeles was distributed through channels called zanjas. From its colonial origins this was a multi-use system, watering crops and livestock, powering mills and providing water for domestic purposes. In the late 19th century, zanjas continued these functions while adding new urban ones, such as fire fighting and street sprinkling, even as the city built a separate piped water system.

The change in cultural landscape represented both ethnic and urban transformation, in both landscape and culture. The pueblo landscape of adobe, gardens and earthen ditches was consumed by Anglo Easterners, culturally as landscape exotica, then literally as real estate. The growing city bridged zanjas and then covered them, realigned them for straighter streets and then for denser buildings.

     Succession shows in the culture of control: of water, time, space and people. Physical control of water changed from shovel work, to wooden gates, to underground connections with locked junction boxes. Time morphed from a concept tied to the sun, to clock time regulated by printed tickets sold on specific calendar days at a downtown office. Field location of zanja construction gave way to surveyed plans and bid documents. Labor on the zanjas was first a communal responsibility of all water users, then was extracted primarily from Native Americans in a chain gang, and finally was paid by cash wages in the labor market. The Zanjero managed the system in the pueblo and was paid by a share of crops, then became the highest paid (more than the Mayor) officer of the young US city; eventually the job shrank to ‘Water Overseer,’ managing only day-to-day operations as an employee of the City Engineer.

     This is part of a larger comparative study (the other cities, in order of their European settlement, are San Antonio, Salt Lake City, Denver and Phoenix), using archival research with emphasis on visual sources, as well as site visits and interviews where ditches survive. In Los Angeles, it uses the Department of Water and Power archive and LA City archive for primary sources of direct user interaction with the water system, from the Mexican ayuntamiento through the US municipality. The historiography of urban water has leaned toward the supply side, especially big engineering; I emphasize the consumption side and the vernacular engineering of water delivery.

Robin Williams, Department of Architectural History, Savannah College of Art and Design 

Municipal Infrastructure as Social Construct: How Street Pavement Experiments before 1930 Resulted from Citizen Engagement, Civic Progressivists and Skilled Craftsmanship

     Beginning in the early 19th century, North American cities – in response to public demand for better streets -- began experimenting with a wide range of paving materials to replace crude cobblestones or dirt.  The goal of modernizing streets to make them smoother, healthier and more durable challenged municipal engineers, who lacked a clear path forward.   As revealed in archival sources including pavement maps, municipal reports and newspaper accounts, municipal engineers experimented with numerous materials, such as macadam, oyster shells, wood and stone blocks, natural asphalt and asphalt blocks and vitrified brick, among other materials.  In contrast to how we largely take for granted asphalt and concrete pavement today, historic pavement improvements resulted from the active participation of diverse players, often with competing urban priorities.  The resulting diversity of pavement types utilized even within a single city occurred at a time when technological developments are often assumed to have been increasingly uniform and standardized.   

     Every city had to confront the pavement problem -- which pavements to use given geographic location, economic resources and traffic needs.  Yet, individuals at different stages in the decision-making and implementation process were instrumental in directing the course of a city’s pavement.  In Detroit and Savannah, for example, mayors became key advocates for paving city streets as critical to civic progress and even exerted influence on the choice of materials.  While one would expect the municipal engineers to be responsible for choosing the best or most affordable material for any paving project, property-owning abutters funding the project, such as those in Toronto, exerted considerable influence over paving decisions in reaction to cost or worries over noise or dust.  Suppliers of specific paving technologies, such as Nicholson wood blocks or Warren-Scharf Trinidad asphalt, effectively lobbied cities and even individual abutters to select their product.  Every pavement type, however, required the effective work of crews of largely anonymous skilled laborers, who were regularly documented in the annual reports. Maintaining the cleanliness of streets, such as with Detroit’s famed “White Wings” street cleaning crews, became important points of civic pride. 

     The broad experimentation with diverse pavement technologies, materials and techniques resulted in a unique paving identity in each city.  The rise of synthetic asphalt in the 1920s, mechanized installation, and simplified funding practices, may have ultimately solved the pavement problem, but at the cost of both local identities and citizen involvement in the creation of their built environments. 

Kateryna Malaia, Ph.D. Candidate, School of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 

A Unit of Homemaking: Prefabricated Panel and Domestic Architecture in the Late Soviet Union.

     Despite the alleged hegemony of professional architects in late-Soviet modernist mass housing production, the qualities and form of this mass housing were not primarily determined by architectural designers. Instead, the architecture of a late-Soviet apartment home was determined by the centralized economy; more specifically, a building block of mass construction—a prefabricated concrete panel. A prefabricated panel was first introduced in the Soviet Union at the beginning of Khrushchev’s vast housing campaign in the late 1950s in order to solve the ravaging housing crisis with cheap and fast construction. In the 1950s and 60s the prefabricated panel propelled innovation in the production of ordinary architecture, as well as the architectural profession. However, over the next couple of decades it quickly turned into the main factor in an impeding system of perpetual reproduction and limitations. This paper investigates the role of the prefabricated panel in the making of late-Soviet apartment housing. Through the object-based history of this basic material unit from the Soviet 1960s to the collapse of the USSR, this paper reconsiders the notion of extended power enjoyed by architects in modernist settings. This study offers a narrative of architectural design dominated by construction materials and industrial inertia. Finally, it looks at the collapse of the USSR as a turning point in housing production. Prefabricated panel stopped being the primary determinant in apartment building design. Yet, it outlived the Soviet Union itself, once again indicating the persistence of a material building block over a political system that enabled its creation. Research for this study was done based on the historic building codes, professional and general publications, building series booklets and catalogues, as well as interviews with architects and engineers collected in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Session IV - 3:00 - 4:30 pm

NEW METHODS AND RECORDS – Bodek Lounge, Room 100

Chair: Jennifer Baughn, Chief Architectural Historian, Mississippi Department of Archives and History 

William Littmann, Senior Adjunct Lecturer, California College of the Arts 

The Long Walk as a Method for Studying the Cultural Landscape

     At a time when historians increasingly rely on digital resources, this paper argues for a more physical engagement with the landscape through the strategic use of long walks through neighborhoods, cities, farmsteads, and other vernacular settings.

     The use of a series of long walks as a method for studying cultural landscapes will help historians better comprehend elements of the landscape often ignored when just looking at maps, online sources, or even using the time-honored “windshield survey.” The walk can help historians develop better questions to guide research, especially those related to historic zoning practices, infrastructure development, and the social and economic divisions between neighborhoods.

Though the long walk can be monotonous, exhausting, and seemingly inefficient, it calls on the historian to directly observe more elements of the ordinary landscape than just the vernacular monuments. In addition, the walk asks historians to notice minor changes in elevation, the relative scale of buildings and lots, and the smell of vegetation or production activities. A physical presence on the landscape can help scholars understand how sites might have appeared to past residents, including the changing view of vertical elements on the skyline and the soundscape resulting from traffic, waterways, commercial buildings, and mechanical equipment.

     The presentation will include how the long walk-as-method has been used (but rarely discussed) by noted historians of the vernacular landscape, including J. B. Jackson and Dell Upton, who methodically walked the streets of Manhattan as part of his research for his essay in "Art and the Empire City." The presentation will also address the problems associated with walking as method, including how an individual’s race, gender, and ethnicity can make long walks a more dangerous practice, or how issues related to mobility can limit walking as a practice.

     The presentation will also situate the method in noted twentieth-century theoretical writings on walking, particularly Michel de Certeau’s “Walking in Cities” (1984), Guy Debord and the Situationist’s use of the dérive, Walter Benjamin’s discussion of the flaneur, W.G. Hoskins use of walking as a way to read the English landscape, and the German geographer Anton Wagner, who walked the streets of Los Angeles as part of his research for his 1935 dissertation, “Los Angeles: The Development, Life and Form of the Southern Californian Metropolis.” The presentation will also address contemporary scholarship by geographers who strongly advocate walking as a way to study urban landscapes.

     The author will discuss his own walks through Los Angeles taken this summer and fall and how they can be viewed as pedestrian “core samples” through elite and working-class parts of the city. These firsthand experiences should allow the author to offer a way of putting this method into practice, including the selection of routes and distances and the value of a planned route over one that can quickly adjust to the terrain and environment.

Sarah Faye Scarlett, Assistant Professor of History, Social Sciences Department, Michigan Technological University 

Digital Spatial Technologies

     Vernacular architecture researchers use different tactics to study change over time. We indicate construction periods on floor plans or stack three-quarter view drawings. We use metaphors like palimpsest, and this year’s conference title, “Landscapes of Succession.” In recent years, digital spatial technologies have been making change over time viewable, shareable, and available for investigation in dynamic new ways. This paper uses the example of the Keweenaw Time Traveler to argue that online community-engaged digital spatial technologies are now accessible and robust enough that they should become part of the VAF’s collective toolbox. 

     The Keweenaw Time Traveler is an online interactive historical atlas of Michigan’s three-county “Copper Country” being built at Michigan Technological University. With support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, faculty and students in geography, history, GIS, and computer sciences are modeling best practices for community-engaged interdisciplinary development of a historical spatial data infrastructure. In the design phase, the team held public charrettes with stakeholder groups to understand community needs and test interface designs. A “citizen historian” function invites online users to classify historic map features, mobilizing public participatory techniques that build up the geo-database while enfranchising community members. Since June 2017, the team has been bringing touch-screen kiosks to outdoor festivals and scheduled public presentations to invite residents, municipal policy makers, tourists, and academics to integrate the Keweenaw Time Traveler into their investigations of the region. 

      To date, the Keweenaw Time Traveler contains 150,000 city directory and census records tethered to over one thousand historical maps, which are layered and georeferenced in ArcGIS software. Users can search by name and street address, or browse maps between 1880–1950. Users can also drop a story-point to add their own information or memories via text, photographs, audio, or video uploads. Over time, more data sets will be added including mining company employee cards, school records, and watershed and shoreline data.  

      The GIS software underlying this project allows not only for rapid mapping of buildings in their changing cultural landscapes, but also for spatial analytical tools that can quantify changes in home values, demographic neighborhood make-up, or square footage allocations. Most importantly, collaborative community-engaged historical GIS projects can help connect important scholarship about buildings and landscapes with work being done by policy makers, ecological scientists, tourism boards, community volunteers, and many others. While still time consuming and expensive, the barriers are lowering and the benefits are only growing.  

Nicole Valois, Professor, School of Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture, University of Montreal 

Pedestrian spaces of the New Town of Villeneuve d’Asq: Interacting Archives and Sketches

     For the outsider, the modernist community of Villeneuve d’Asq in France is a paradox. The designers aimed to create walkable and interactive neighborhoods yet as built, the housing development appears fragmented by high-speed boulevards. For those who venture into residential complexes on foot, the experience of the built form is intimate and helps the user value underappreciated elements of modernist urban design. How then do the designers' intentions, the translation of these intentions into spatial forms, and an understanding of space by its users relate to one another?

     Villeneuve d'Asq, is one of the first New Towns developments in France. Built in the 1960s to 1980s to meet the demand for urban expansion, it is the site of unprecedented experimentation in urban planning, architecture and landscape architecture. Pathways and public spaces that connect low-density dwellings are the raw material of this case study.

Modern public landscapes are generally overlooked in spatially-oriented academic studies (Birnbaum, 2003). This research begins by assessing archival material, including plans of the community, and continues by developing a visual narrative of the modern landscape. Following a routine path through the community, I relate the experience of spaces and places with sketches and overlay three paths through the community on historic documents. The goal is to connect the experience, renderings expressing the experience of landscape, and archival documents, in the spirit of field sketching by Janet Swailes (2016).

     I began my work by analyzing three paths taken for specific purposes; the morning run, the daily walk to work, and the trip to a specific iconic modern public art site. Questions arose as the experience grew that fed my thinking about the modern landscape and the status of drawing in the experience of a place, which derive from my own experience as a researcher-draftsman. Through the experience of these pathways, their representations and the analysis of archival documents, how do these landscapes meet the principles of modernity? Can the drawings give clues as to the adequacy between what is perceived and the intentions of the designers, planners, architects who thought it? What answer can lead to the confrontation of the documents of archives and the appreciation in drawing of the places? What is the status of the drawings?

This work contributes to our understanding of different temporalities: the lifetime of the project, the time of the study stay, the time of the walk (repetitive) and the time of the drawing. It is based on the assumption that drawing can produce knowledge. This 20- minute presentation will present the results of this experiment using visual aids such as photographs, archival documents, and drawings.


Chair:  Dale Gyure, Professor, Architecture, Lawrence Technological University

Laurin Goad Davis, Ph.D. Candidate, Art History, Pennsylvania State University 

Traditional and Progressive?: Open-Air Schools in the South, 1911-1930

     Open-air schools for children at-risk for tuberculosis first appeared in the northeastern United States in the early twentieth century in an effort to improve health while maintaining educational progress. My paper will address the strategies southern school systems adapted to meet local concerns. Through a comparison of structures in Baltimore, Norfolk, and St. Louis, I will explore how smaller cities in the southern United States sought to address rising concerns regarding children’s bodies and the urban environment. These schools engaged with multiple landscapes, including the gradation from the city center to the periphery and the racially segregated environment of the early twentieth century south, with each of these intersecting with the other. I will argue that these overlapping landscapes led to confrontations between progressive educational intentions, traditional architectural styles, and pressures of racially segregated cities. 

     While some systems, including Baltimore and Norfolk, mimicked the model popularized in Chicago with a rooftop pavilion on a multi-story school, St. Louis sought a pastoral site where double classroom units connected by loggias could expand across the landscape. The place a school occupied within the landscape of the city and the relation of structure to site made certain arguments as to how educators and architects viewed students in the schools.  

Open-air schools and classes also differed in structure within school systems as the inequities of typical classrooms replayed themselves in these spaces designed to improve student health. Retrofitted rooms and unbuilt plans illustrate the negotiations which took place between anti-tuberculosis activists in the community who were black and school boards or city governments. As many of these schools were demolished, I use plans, school board records, photographs, and newspaper articles show the involvement of community members in establishing open-air schools in addition to the influence of national publicity.   

     Despite these differences, in each city open-air schools afforded a test case for spaces, programs, and building strategies which became standard in the ideal modern school. While separated from their peers based on their physical condition, open-air students received lunch prepared in nearby kitchens, adjacent toilets, health services, and abundant light and air during rest and study.


Jaime Gomez, Ph.D. Candidate in Architecture, University of California at Berkeley 

Total and Equal: Cuba´s Rural Boarding Schools and the Search for Equality 

     In 1970, Cuba´s revolutionary government started an ambitious program of rural boarding schools, which aimed to shape Cuban youth according to socialist values. Labelled “La Escuela en el Campo” (the rural school), the program´s heyday lasted until 1990, when the now collapsing Soviet Union stopped sending economic aid to Cuba. The program´s cornerstone in its first two decades was the secondary boarding school (seventh through tenth grade). Guided by the idea that productive work was an essential aspect of education, students coming from nearby towns boarded for up to four years, devoting three hours per day to farming activities. The school buildings´ modernist aesthetics, partially owed to the local prefabrication system employed in their construction, became a common feature of Cuba´s rural landscape. More than 200 of these schools, based on the same architectural typology, were completed by 1990 and became the most recognizable elements of larger plans for rural areas that included the re-surveying of land, the development of towns, the provision of basic utilities, and the construction of roads.

This paper focuses on the first two decades of the program. I argue that the boarding schools were central to total design plans conceived to provide citizens a physical environment to participate and compete in productive activities under equal conditions.1, 2 The architecture and domestic life of the schools reflected this search for equality and linked it to two factors that stressed the total design approach: the presence of a paternalistic and powerful government willing to intervene in every aspect of life, and the belonging to a larger world order of nations that shared similar approaches to the built environment. I will develop my argument based on the spatial analysis of the architectural typology and of three of the extant schools, Fidel Castro´s speeches pronounced in the inauguration of some of the schools, government propaganda material, news reports, regulations issued by the ministries of education and agriculture, discussions on the program by Cuban youth organizations, and in-depth interviews with former students.

TRADITION AND MODERNITY – Ben Franklin , Room 218

Chair: Rachel Leibowitz, Co-Director, Center for Cultural Landscape Preservation, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Irene Appeaning Addo, Research Fellow at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana 

Traditional Earth-Constructed Houses in Tamale, Ghana: Tradition, Identity and Modernity

     African architecture, and especially traditional earth-constructed houses, is facing a lot of pressure from the tradition-modernity conundrum. Globally it is acknowledged that African traditional earth houses are one of the most endangered forms of cultural and built heritage and yet possess several benefits with regards to its environmental suitability to the tropical climate. The tradition-modernity conundrum is heightened with the contending and overlapping forces of migration, globalization, urbanization and modernization shaping the Africa present, African identities, and the disciplinary discourses with which it is engaged. Yet, tradition continues to play a major role in both the articulation of African issues and their resolution. Africa’s position in the world, the nature of African subjecthood and lifeworld, continue to be a function of the tensions between tradition and modernity. In much of disciplinary discourses on Africa, rituals, ceremonies, performances, traditional art forms, traditional occupations, and family systems, nature (flora and fauna) are readily deployed as tropes for discussions on the tradition-modernity conundrum. Traditional architecture does not often feature in discussions of the rural milieu in Africa as a counterpoint to urbanization and modernity. However, this tension between tradition and modernity is also present in architecture; what is described as African traditional architecture and modern architecture. This study presents this tradition-modernity conundrum in two aspects of African traditional mud architecture in the Northern Region of Ghana. The first is reflected in the changes observed in the construction process of the buildings and the second is the changes observed in the building shapes and materials used for construction. The backdrop that culture and identity of the people is reflected in the kind of houses they build and live in was taken into consideration. The findings are that respondents in the study area attached different meanings to traditional earth houses and modern architecture. What was clear was the effect of global influences and the perception of the respondents on what is modern as reflected in the houses they see in the urban areas and houses occupied by the affluent and traditional leaders in and outside the community and what the media presents. Households preferred to construct their houses with cement-based material because of status, economic gains from rents and the desire to be integrated into the neighbouring city, Tamale, due to urbanisation. All these factors have together informed and shaped the sociocultural expectations of earth houses in the study area. 

Leila Saboori, Ph.D. Candidate, School of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 

Challenges and Possibilities in the Making of Modern Middle Eastern Oil Cities

     The large scale consumption of oil as a source of energy had profound consequences for urbanization and globalization in the 20th century. Oil, as the most precious natural resource, was the target of imperial powers and played a central role in the modern history of the Middle East. Spurred on by the discovery of large quantities of oil in Masjed-Soleyman in 1908 by the D’Arcy Concession, southwestern Iran witnessed an exponential growth in industrial and urban infrastructure. Soon after this, the Anglo Persian Oil Company (APOC) was founded in London, and by 1911, a pipeline distributed oil from wells to island of Abadan where the primary refinery was erected. Within a span of 50 years subsequent to these discoveries, Abadan developed from a village of a few hundred fishermen and farmers to a city of almost a quarter of a million people, the largest in the Persian Gulf region, becoming one of Iran’s major modern urban centers. Located at the intersection of oil and space, this paper highlights the role of oil as the key agent of landscape change. Using Abadan in Iran and Ahmadi in Kuwait as case studies, it examines the establishment and development of the oil industry during the first half of the twentieth century and the impact of the British-owned oil company in reforming the traditional urban morphologies of the region. More specifically, this paper evaluates the grafting of Western urban planning models and architectural styles onto local models of development. Debates over space, politics and everyday life collided with the modernization of these oil cities. As commodities were extracted from below the ground, the landscape above ground reflected the spatial and social segregation of endemic to colonization. A particular focus has been put on the role of the company’s Scottish architect, James Mollison (J.M.) Wilson, in redefining the architecture and planning of the region. Wilson’s planning and architectural approach in Abadan and Ahmadi followed the Sir Edwin Lutyens’s Hampstead Garden Suburb, which was inspired by the Ebenezer Howard’s original Garden City idea.

PHILADELPHIA – Class of 49 Auditorium, Room 230 

Chair: Aaron Wunsch, Assistant Professor, School of Design, University of Pennsylvania

Grey Pierce, Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology, University of Chicago 

A History and Memory of Philadelphia Gay Bathhouses

     My article focuses on one of the most common spaces in the gay community. Bathhouses represent a cultural and social cornerstone for many gay men. The history of bathhouses connects the built environment, city policing, and sexual identities. Preservationists have recognized the significance of bathhouses to the gay community, providing hidden, safe spaces for gay men to have sexual encounters when city conditions did not allow for sexual interaction in the privacy of their own homes. Historically bathhouses were relatively protected compared to bars and cruising grounds. However, the architecture on the inside of bathhouses reinforces external class, race, and gender structures. On the margins of society, bathhouses appear nondescript and hidden, reminding bathgoers that their practices are undervalued and stigmatized in society and in the queer community.  

     Bathhouse history is written to privilege whiteness and masculinity. Telling the narrative of bathhouses remains important to the LGBTQ community, but also raises questions about marginalization of the bathhouse and its patrons. This article investigates how urban landscape and design can assist in telling other narratives alongside traditional understandings of the bathhouses. Focusing on bathhouses in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, the article concludes that while bathhouses were important to forming an identity for many in the gay community, they are also rooted in a discriminatory history. By framing the study of bathhouses in the geography of gay commercial space and building design, we can better understand their complicated past.  

I chose to concentrate on Philadelphia, whose bathhouses have been understudied compared to those of Chicago, San Francisco, and New York. The bathhouses of Philadelphia operated continuously from the post-war period to present day. In contrast to San Francisco and New York, Philadelphia did not close gay bathhouses during the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, providing a longer uninterrupted period for study. In this article I map the location of bathhouses using Gay Guides and other archival research. I also study the interior of the bathhouses based on existing plans, on-site investigation, semi-structured interviews, and surveys. Finally, I rely on queer and feminist theory to guide preservationists’ framing of bathhouse narratives in the 21st century.  

Anthony R.C. Hita, Architectural Conservator, 

The “Model” Church: Mid-19th Century Germantown as Interpreted through Sloan’s First Baptist Church of Germantown

     Position on the crossroads of one of Philadelphia’s fastest growing mid-19th century suburbs, the First Baptist Church of Germantown captures the geographic, demographic, economic, and social concerns of the diverse group of professionals, immigrants, residents, and organizations who sought to shape the future of Germantown locally and Philadelphia broadly. Though a combination of archival research and in-person documentation, this paper explores the history of this Germantown landmark and argues that captured within its otherwise remarkable architecture is an even more remarkable story of growth, change, stress, and ambition at play in the rapidly changing Germantown suburb of mid-19th century Philadelphia. It focuses on how three men in particular—Eli K. Price, John M. Richardson, and Samuel Sloan—responded to the religious, demographic, and economic needs of the neighborhood through the structure.

     Sitting atop a small rise on Price Street, First Baptist Church of Germantown is a surprising structure. Designed by Samuel Sloan and built in 1852, First Baptist Church represents a pivotal turning point in Sloan’s life, coming during his transition from carpenter to contractor and architectural designer. Rev. John M. Richardson and the Baptist congregation that commissioned the church was a new congregation, founded the previous year, of modest means, but with high missionary ambitions for the growing Germantown area. The church was designed to be a Protestant counterpart to the Catholic St. Vincent de Paul’s, all part of real estate magnate Eli K. Price’s meticulously planned street which bore his name. Sloan would immortalize his plan for the church in the second volume of his two part pattern book-cumtreatise The Model Architect.

     Directly adjacent to a station on the newly constructed extension line of the Philadelphia Germantown-Norristown Railroad, the impressive façade of the church would have been among the first things visitors to Germantown saw, especially those staying at Price’s Railroad Hotel across the street. For the Baptist congregation who owned the building, the site was to be a holy acropolis to preach the virtues of civic virtue and moral living. For Price, the church and its Catholic counterpart up the street, acted as gatekeepers to the mix of Catholic Irish and Protestant American workers flooding into his planned neighborhood. For Sloan, the building was a billboard for his design prowess and ability to provide high style on a modest budget as many of the details of the structure were made with substitutionary materials to save the congregation money.


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