VAF-NE Annual Meetings

VAF-NE Annual Meeting 2024

Join the New England Chapter of the Vernacular Architecture Forum in Providence, RI on April 6, 2024, for the return of our in-person annual meeting, The day includes paper sessions, our annual business meeting, and guided tours of sites and efforts focused on the conference theme of "New Narratives in Vernacular Architecture." We look forward to sharing new research, conversing with colleagues, and learning more about our host city.


Providence Public Library, 150 Empire Street (intersection of Washington and Empire Streets)

Program of Speakers

Program of Speakers

Registration Cost

Members: $30

Students: $15

Non-Members: $40

Register Now!

Tour Information

Tour Information

This year, we are pleased to introduce an afternoon of tours. Register for one:Downtown Providence LGBTQ+ History Tour

Downtown Providence LGBTQ+ History Tour

1.5 hours, Free, limit 20

Explore places associated with Providence’s LGBTQ history and discover the factors that led to Providence being a center of LGBTQ life for the last century. Hear the stories of police raids, civil rights marches, and groundbreaking legal battles, and see the sites where they happened. Kate Wells is the Curator of Rhode Island Collections at Providence Public Library and Joanna Doherty is Deputy Director of the RI Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission. Both share an interest in the social and cultural history of Providence with a special passion for bringing hidden histories to light.
Meeting location: Intersection of Washington and Snow Streets, under the “Three Waves to Coastway” mural in the parking lot.

From Historic House Museum to a Hub for Early Rhode Island History: Re-Interpreting the John Brown House MuseumFrom Historic House Museum to a Hub for Early Rhode Island History: Re-Interpreting the John Brown House Museum

1 hour, $8.00 additional cost; limit 20; tours at 2:00 and 3:00; 10 people each

Join staff from the Rhode Island Historical Society, stewards of the 1786–1788 John Brown House Museum, for a guided tour of what John Quincy Adams once called “the most magnificent and elegant private house I have ever seen on this continent.” Beyond the architecture, the story of the John Brown House Museum also includes a family fortune built on coastal shipping, privateering, and global trades such as the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the China Trade. The house's namesake, John Brown (1736-1803), was a powerful and controversial historical figure, from his role in the 1772 sinking of the British customs schooner Gaspee to being the first American tried in federal court for trafficking slaves to ports outside of the U.S. in violation of the Slave Trade Act of 1794. During this hour-long program, visitors will explore our new exhibits and learn more about our ongoing re-interpretation efforts as the museum transforms from a traditional historic house museum to an accessible, engaging, and interpretive space for discovering Rhode Island history.

Snowtown TSnowtown Tour

One hour, free, limit 25

Please join us for a guided Discovery Walk exploring the north shore of Providence’s Great Salt Cove! This area was the former location of the early 19th century Snowtown neighborhood and Rhode Island’s first state Prison. The Walk will be led by archaeologists Heather Olson and Andrew Polta who will lead attendees through the area where the neighborhood and Prison once stood. Attendees will meander through the modern-day landscape of the state house grounds and adjacent lands, all the while hearing riveting stories about the archaeology and people who lived and worked here in the early 19th century. Using maps, photographs, and surviving archival documents, the guides will bring attendees into the everyday world of Providence’s early 19th century residents.The walk is approximately one mile in length and will take about one hour to complete.
Meeting location: The Discovery walk will begin (and end) at the Rhode Island State House, 82 Smith Street, Providence. Meet on the front steps facing down toward the Providence Place Mall.

Box Lunch Options ($18)

Box lunches include chips, seasonal fruit, craft cookie, dill pickle and Poland Spring water

Virginia Ham and Cheese

Whole grain mustard, mayo, Swiss cheese, green leaf, tomato on a potato roll

Balsamic Chicken

Chicken breast, tomato jam, arugula, mozzarella, red onion, balsamic on a baguette

Greek Wrap (Vegetarian)

Feta, tomatoes, kalamata olives, and romaine with Greek dressing in a spinach wrap

Travel, Parking, and Hotel Information

Providence Public Library address: 150 Empire Street, at the intersection of Washington and Empire Streets.

Public Transit (Rail)

If you are coming via rail the Providence Public Library is about a 20 minute walk, just under a mile:
Exit the Providence station onto Gaspee Street and turn left (south) toward Francis Street (US 1).
Turn left onto Francis Street. Go 0.3 miles on Francis to Fountain Street. Turn right.
Walk 0.1 mile, turn left onto Snow Street (a short street that looks like a parking lot), then turn right onto Washington Street.
Walk to the intersection with Empire Street. The Providence Public Library is at 150 Empire Street.

Parking and Driving Directions

From the South
Take 95 North to the Broadway exit (Exit 21) and merge right as you come off the exit ramp. Stay in the right lane and continue straight through the light. You will see the Providence Hilton and the Civic Center on your left. Stay in the right lane as the road curves to the right. The Library is on your right.
From the North
Take 95 South to the Atwells Avenue exit (Exit 21). Turn left off the exit at the light, and cross back over 95 and continue straight through one set of lights. The Providence Hilton is on your left. Take slight left at next set of lights, curving around to the right and then continuing straight on Empire Street to the next set of traffic lights. The Library is immediately on the right (150 Empire Street). If you have crossed the Washington Street intersection, you’ve passed us.
From the East Bay or Southeastern Massachusetts areas
Take 195 West to 95 North to Exit 21 and continue with the directions "From the South."

Nearby Parking Facilities

LAZ Parking
197 Fountain Street (entrance directly across from The Hilton hotel) and other locations (LAZ Parking)
DownCity Parking
13 locations (, 401-273-9466
Amica Mutual Pavilion (AMP) Parking
99 West Exchange Street, Providence

Hotel information

The Dean Hotel, 122 Fountain Street, Providence (0.1 mi from the library)
The Hotel Providence, 139 Mathewson Street, Providence (0.2 mi from the library)

Social Hour

Location will be within walking distance of the Providence Public Library, to be announced

Register Now

Call for Papers - Deadline has passed, thank you!

New Narratives in Vernacular Architecture

Vernacular Architecture Forum - New England Chapter 2024 Annual Meeting

Providence Public Library

150 Empire Street, Providence, RI

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Deadline: January 14, 2024

The study of New England’s vernacular architecture continuously evolves, uncovering new perspectives, challenging established narratives, and shedding light on previously overlooked aspects of the built environment. As the New England Chapter of the Vernacular Architecture Forum returns with its in-person annual conference, we hope to promote and share innovative research and fresh interpretations that push the boundaries of vernacular architecture scholarship. Our conference theme, "New Narratives in Vernacular Architecture," invites scholars of New England’s built environment to submit work that challenges existing narratives, questions conventional wisdom, and proposes alternative frameworks to studying the region’s buildings and landscapes. We aim to foster critical dialogues that redefine the way we understand and interpret the built environment by uncovering fresh perspectives, questioning established notions, and embracing contemporary interpretations.

Submission Guidelines:

We invite original research papers and works-in-progress that align with the conference theme "New Narratives in Vernacular Architecture." Presenters of research papers will have 20 minutes to present while works-in-progress presentations will be 10 minutes each. For research papers, proposals must state the argument of the paper, discuss the methodology, lay out scope and content, and specify its relationship to the theme of the meeting. For the works-in-progress, submissions must state the topic and outline the work done to date. For both, please include a title for the paper and the author’s contact information (name, address, email address, and telephone number[s]). The proposals for both should be a maximum of 400 words and be accompanied by a one-page c.v. Please indicate whether you are submitting a research paper or works in progress. Proposals may include up to two images.

Please submit proposals to by January 14, 2024 with the subject line “2024 Annual Meeting Paper Submission.”  All submissions will be acknowledged upon receipt, with presenters notified by February 18, 2024. 

Richard Greenwood Award:

Students and early career professionals submitting proposals for the VAF-NE Annual Meeting are also encouraged to concurrently apply for the Richard Greenwood Award. Named in honor of the late Rick Greenwood, a VAF-NE past president and active member from the inception of the Chapter, the Greenwood Award provides an honorarium for presenting at the conference to a student or early career professional. To be considered for the Greenwood Award, please include a CV, along with the name and contact information of one academic or professional reference.

VAF-NE Annual Meeting 2020

“Framing the Old Colony: Early Plymouth Architecture in Context” James Kelleher, Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in American Material Culture

“The New England Squash Barn” Sally McMurry, Penn State University

“Marblehead Land Company, A Well-Documented Residential Subdivision of the 1880s John D Clemson, Independent Scholar 

A Look Back at a WWI Housing Effort Lorna Condon, Historic New England

Introducing the Royal Barry Wills Associates Archives Lorna Condon, Historic New England

Destination “Magic Town”: Capitalism, Corporate Branding, and the Trackside Architecture of the Portland & Rumford Falls Railway, 1890-1895 C. Ian StevensonIndependent Scholar

FORUM: Recovering Urban Vernacular Spaces in Boston and New York City

“They Persisted: Women Confront the Corporate Improvement of Boston’s Waterfront, 1790-1820” Kathryn Lasdow, Suffolk University

“Real Estate and Reimagining African American Free Space in New York City” Alexander Manevitz, New York Historical Society


VAF-NE Annual Meeting 2019

“Imaging New Netherland: Origins and Survival of Netherlandic Architecture in North America,” Jeroen Van Den Hurk, Salve Regina University

Building English Houses: Evidence from the Mashantucket Pequot and Hassanamisco Nipmuc Reservations, Myron Stachiw, Independent Scholar/Consultant in Social and Architectural History and Holly Izard, Worcester Historical Museum

VAF 2021 Conference in Plymouth, MA, J. Ritchie Garrison, University of Delaware

The Architecture of La Survivance: Creating Quebecois Community in Early Twentieth-century New Hampshire, Peter Michaud, Cultural Resources Manager, United States Navy

The World in One Square Mile: The Cultural Landscape of Central Falls, Rhode Island, Gretchen Pineo and Virginia H. Adams, Public Archaeology Laboratory

New England’s Connected Farmhouse Architecture: An Investigation for the National Historic Landmarks Program, Roger Reed, National Register and National Historic Landmarks Programs

 VAF-NE Annual Meeting 2018

Vernacular Building Science at the Gropius House

David Fannon, Northeastern University

The House was Demolished: The Role of Cultural Bias in the Loss of Modern American Residential Architecture

Anna Marcum, Tulane University

The Mid-Century Modern Lexington Center Pedestrian Promenade, 1967-1970

Virginia Adams & Gretchen Pineo, Public Archaeology Laboratory

Mid-Century Mormon Modern: Creating a Mormon Cultural Landscape Among the Eastern Establishment

Sam Palfreyman, Boston University

Just Add Water: Midcentury Transformations of the Pondside Vernacular

David Foxe, Epstein Joslin Architects

Suburban Design Thinking: Home Builders and House Design in the Mid-Twentieth Century

Elaine B. Stiles, Roger Williams University

David Fried: Mysterious Modernist of the CCC

Devin Colman, Vermont Division for Historic Preservation

Lovett's Inn: A Jewelbox of Modern Design Tucked into Franconia Notch

Nicole Benjamin-Ma, VHB


 VAF-NE Annual Meeting 2017

Pedaling Vacationland: Bicycles, Architecture, and the Leisure Landscape in Maine 1878-1902

Sam Shupe

Building Reform at the Connecticut Industrial School for Girls 1870-1900
Karen Robbins

'You Will Find it Handy': Researching African-American Automobile Travel Guides and Their Sites
Catherine Zipf 


State of the Chapter 

 VAF-NE Annual Meeting 2016
The National Historic Preservation Act and the VAF: The Populist Revolution 
Kim Hoagland

Panel: Educating about the Vernacular
Moderator: Zachary Violette with Betsy Cromley, Kim Hoagland, Robert Russell, Myron Stachiw

Fraternity, Furlough, and Family: Maine's Civil War Veteran Summer Cottages
Ian Stevenson, Richard E. Greenwood Young Scholar Award

A Damming Problem: The Relocation and Modern Planning of Hill, NH's New Village
Andrew Cushing

Panel: The Vernacular in Practice
Moderator: Elizabeth Igleheart with Betsy Friedberg, Peter Michaud, Christi Mitchell, Jenny Scofield, and Laura Trieschmann

 VAF-NE Annual Meeting 2015
Arcadian Vernacular Architecture
Don Cyr

The "Block," a Three-Decker Variant in Berlin, New Hampshire
Laura Driemeyer

Speculative Mill Town Architecture in Augusta, Maine
Zachary Violette

The Career of the Double Parlor in Boston, 1800-1850
Jeffrey Klee, Richard E. Greenwood Young Scholar Award

 VAF-NE Annual Meeting 2014
The Backstory of Planning: The Olmsted Firm and Brookline Landscape
Keith Morgan 

Early Suburban Architecture in Newton, MA, 1830-1850
Neil Larson

Jonas Mulokas: Architecture Inspired by Lithuanian Vernacular and American Modernism
Milda Richardson 
Early African-American Meetinghouses of New England
Aaron Sturgis

Mapping Colonial Newport: The Challenges and Triumphs of Digital Research
Catherine Zipf

VAF-NE Annual Meeting 2013

VAF-NE meets March 16 at Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, MA.
Annual meeting schedule and registration 2013

 "...make it neer the Culler of Chelmsford meeting-house":  Painted Surfaces on Early New England Houses of Worship
Peter Benes

A Duxbury Joiner’s Shop
Michael Burrey

What can and can’t be said:  Civil Rights and African-American History in the New New South
Dell Upton

Assessing the Cultural Significance of Stone Piles
Timothy Ives

Defining New England House Types, Part 3
Claire Dempsey

VAF-NE Annual Meeting 2012

VAF-NE meets March 31, 2012 at Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, MA.
Annual meeting schedule and registration 

Chain of Tools: Supply Chains, Lumber, and Vernacular Communities in Northern California, 1850-1930
Jim Buckley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Interpreting the Shakers: Opening the Villages to the Public, 1955-1965
Will Moore, Boston University

A New North Shore House Type
Sean Maher

'Tenement Canyons': Methods for Managing the Data on a Common Building Type
Zachary Violette, Boston University

VAF 2011 - Jamaica Report
Kate Matison, Katherine Matison Consulting

Defining New England House Types
Claire Dempsey, Boston University

VAF-NE Annual Meeting 2011

VAF-NE meets April 2, 2011 at Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, MA.
Annual meeting schedule and registration

Architectural Remains of the 1607-1608 Popham Colony on the Kennebec River in Maine
Jeffrey Brain, Peabody Essex Museum

Out of the Attic: Inventing Antiques in Twentieth-Century New England
Briann Greenfield, Central Connecticut State University

A Study of 18th-19th century Powder Houses and Their Construction on the North Shore
William Finch, Independent Consultant

Within the Means of All: American Consumer Culture and the Rise of the Residential Funeral Home, 1915 – 1965
Dean Lampros, Boston University

The Food Axis
Betsy Cromley, Northeastern University

Understanding Massachusetts House Types
Claire Dempsey, Boston University

VAF-NE Winter Meeting 2010

Early New England Buildings: Reflections on the Field
Robert Blair St. George, University of Pennsylvania

The Framed Houses of Northern New England: An Archaeologist's View
Emerson "Tad" Baker, Salem State College

The Broad Chamfer School: Understanding the Client-Craftsman Relationship in Early 18th Century Guilford, Connecticut
James Sexton, Architectural Historian

Recent Observations of Late First Period Construction Details in the Connecticut River Valley
William Flynt, Historic Deerfield

Sources for Reconstructing the Built Environment in the Connecticut Valley
Kevin Sweeney, Amherst College

First Period Buildings in Eastern Massachusetts: Research in Progress
Anne Grady, Preservation Consultant

ROUNDTABLE: Framing the Study of Early New England Architecture

VAF-NE Winter Meeting 2009

Building Order on Beacon Hill
Jeff Klee, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Picturing Freedom: Pedro Tovookan Parris' Autobiographical Landscapes
Martha McNamara, Wellesley College

Marshall Street, Watertown, MA: A Charles Brigham Showroom
David Russo, Independent Reseacher

Architecture and the Reproduction of Privilege: A Cultural Landscape Approach to the Children’s Cottage at the Breakers
Abigail Van Slyck, Connecticut College

Gendered Landscapes in Turn-of-the-Century San Francisco
Jessica Sewell, Boston University

Invisible Property: the Clothes Closet as Architectural Space
Elizabeth Cromley, Northeastern University

VAF-NE Winter Meeting 2008

Preservation and Profit: Wallace Nutting and the Chain of Colonial Houses
Tom Denenberg, Portland Museum of Art

Norman Isham: Rhode Island’s Early Preservation Architect
Arnold Robinson, Newport Collaborative Architects

The Architect as Historian: Restoration Architecture of Joseph Everett Chandler
Tim Orwig, Boston University

Displaying American Decorative Arts: George Francis Dow’s Period Rooms in International Context
Kathleen Curran, Trinity College

Antiquarians and Economics: The Invention of Cushing’s Island
Sara Butler, Roger Wiliams College

Panel Discussion with Speakers
Moderator: Pieter Roos, Newport Restoration Foundation

VAF-NE Winter Meeting 2007

Finding Meaning in New England Churches: Researching Temples of Grace: The Material Transformation of Connecticut’s Churches, 1790-1840
Gretchen Buggeln, Valparaiso University

Exhuming Old Ship: New Evidence for Original Features at the Hingham Meetinghouse
Brian Powell, Building Conservation Associates, Inc.

Forum: The Orientation of Houses in the Village of Deerfield: Archeological and Documentary Evidence of Change in the Eighteenth Century
Robert Paynter, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Where We Lived: An Experiment in Accessible History
Jack Larkin, Old Sturbridge Village

The Building Frame Trade in Coastal New Hampshire
James Garvin, New Hampshire Division of Historic Resources

VAF-NE Winter Meeting 2006

How the English Farmhouse Was Redesigned in British North America
Cary Carson, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

God is in the Details: The Transformation of Ecclesiastical Architecture in Early 19th Century America
Carl Lounsbury, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Invitation to Vernacular Architecture: Why We Said What We Said
Elizabeth Cromley, Northeastern University

Collaboration in the Packaging of Boston and New England: The Encyclopedia of New England and The Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston
Keith Morgan, Boston University

Report from the VAF Annual Meeting: Tucson Overview
Elizabeth Cromley, Northeastern University

Forum: Learning from the Coburn House
Claire Dempsey, Boston University

VAF-NE Winter Meeting 2005

A Socioarchitectural Study of Seventeenth-Century Connecticut Valley Probate Inventories
Kevin M. Sweeney, Amherst College

Archaeological Insights on the Spencer-Peirce-Little House, Newbury, Massachusetts"
Mary C. Beaudry, Boston University

City Architect and Rural Builder: the Collaboration of Richard Upjohn and George Stearns in Brattleboro, Vermont, 1853-55
J. Ritchie Garrison, University of Delaware

Report from the VAF Annual Meeting: Pennsylvania Overview
Abby VanSlyck, Holly Izard, and Elaine Stiles

Forum: Protocols for Dendrochronology
Willie Graham, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

 VAF-NE Winter Meeting 2004

Landscape, People, and Architecture of the New England Tobacco Fields
James F. O’Gorman, Wellesley College

'To Create an Old-Fashioned Garden': Archaeological Perspectives on the Restoration of Newport’s Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House
James C. Garman, Salve Regina University

Architecture in Early Maine: The View from the Chadbourne Archaeology Site (ca. 1643-1690)
Emerson Woods Baker II, Salem State College

Report from the VAF Annual Meeting St. Pierre and Michelon: An Overview
Myron O. Stachiw, Roger Williams University

Graffiti in the Candia, NH, Schoolhouse at Old Sturbridge Village: The Identification of a Regional Vernacular Symbol
J. Edward Hood, Old Sturbridge Village

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