Paul E. Buchanan Award 

2019 Montana African American Heritage Resources Project

The Montana African American Heritage Resources Project provides a model for public outreach that uses interactive Web-based digital media to bring together a wealth of resources that contribute significantly to our understanding of the black experience in the west. It was directed by Kate Hampton of the Montana Historical Society and authored by Delia Hagen, PhD, in conjunction other historians, curators, volunteers, and descendants of the state’s African American Community. The culmination of years of research and field reconnaissance, the project resulted in inventory forms on over fifty properties in nine counties, and a multi-property nomination for Helena, the historic center of black life. The study identifies previously unknown, and often endangered vernacular resources and establishes a context for the documentation of potential sites in the future. Included are maps, timelines, and essays to create the context for the lives of Montana’s African American community, and lesson plans for educators. Primary documents, newspaper articles, artifacts, census records, and photographs within the archives of Montana Historical Society were digitized, and oral histories recorded. The project is also noteworthy for its broad public outreach and support at the state and national level including funding from the National Park Service’s Underrepresented Communities Program and Montana Cultural Trust.


Paul Buchanan

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Paul Buchanan Investigating Plasterwork


2020 Call for Nominations

The Vernacular Architecture Forum seeks nominations for the Paul E. Buchanan Award.

The award was instituted by VAF in 1993 to recognize contributions to the study and preservation of vernacular architecture and the cultural landscape that do not take the form of books or published work.  Hundreds of studies, reports, documentation projects, restoration projects, conservation plans, National Register nominations, exhibits, video/digital media productions and public programs are completed each year without the benefit of distribution or recognition beyond the limited audience for which they were commissioned.  Nonetheless, many of these efforts can serve to inform and inspire us all.  The award is named for Paul E. Buchanan who served for over thirty years as the Director of Architectural Research at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Buchanan set the standard for architectural fieldwork in America and inspired many VAF members in the rewards of fieldwork. This award honors the valuable work of documenting and understanding built environments that most of our members and professional associates perform.


Exceptional projects that set new standards or model innovative practices, completed in the last two years are eligible for consideration and may include, but are not limited to:

  • Architectural Recording Projects (including HABS/HAER/HALS)
  • Historic Structures Reports
  • Cultural Resource Surveys
  • Historic Designation Studies (including United States National Register, Canadian Register of Historic Places (CRHP), United States National Historic Landmark and National Historic Site of Canada)
  • Preservation or Conservation Plans
  • Restoration or Rehabilitation Projects that express the significance of the resource or illustrate novel ways the resource has been preserved
  • Furnishing Plans and Installations
  • Exhibits and Other Temporary Installations
  • Permanent Museum Exhibits
  • Visual Arts Presentations (e.g. drawing, painting, photography, 3-D media)
  • Film and Video Presentations
  • Computer Applications and Modeling
  • Educational and Interpretive Programs
  • Symposia, Conferences, and Public Events

Nomination materials should include:
  • Cover letter that explains the merits of the project and outlining the ways the project sets new standards or models innovative practices or otherwise contributes to the study and preservation of vernacular architecture or cultural landscapes.
  • Project documentation, e.g. copy of the report, audio-visual presentation, exhibition boards, etc. in a format that can be downloaded to the VAF Buchanan committee.

Please submit nomination materials electronically in a single zip file to Should the file size exceed 50MB, please communicate with us at the same address. Likewise, if you must send a paper or hard copy of your documentation, please email us so that we may make alternate arrangements.

The application deadline for the 2020 Buchanan Award is January 5th, 2020.

Past Buchanan Award Winners

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