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  • 21 Jul 2016 3:38 PM | Christine R Henry

    Welcome to the summer edition of the VAN!  As usual, this issue is packed with great information.  There are a number of calls for papers and announcements for upcoming conferences and some wonderful news about VAF members.  But of course, the heart of this issue of the newsletter is the Durham Conference.  We have essays from student ambassadors and access awardees reflecting on their experiences, a blog post from one of the tour leaders, and links to the images and remarks for all of the 2016 awardees announced at the banquet. You will find links to each of these stories below, or you can scroll through the entire issue here.

    I also want to mention that there is a new topic on the evolution of the definition of vernacular architecture on the member forums submitted by a graduate student attendee inspired by sessions at the conference.  The forums are a great way to join conversations and dialogue with members throughout the year.

  • 19 Jul 2016 5:02 PM | Christine R Henry

    As has been the tradition at VAF, the 2016 awardees were announced with much fanfare at the banquet on Saturday night.  Each awardee was recognized for their contributions to VAF and to the field of vernacular architecture studies.  Please click on the links below to read the inspiring stories and view the evocative images of each awardee.

    Award for Advocacy: The 2016 Advocacy award was presented to Open Durham / Preservation Durham.  Friends of Oberlin Cemetery received an honorable mention.

    Catherine W. Bisher prize:  Catherine Boland Erkkila’s creatively conceived, well-researched, and clearly written article, “American Railways and the Cultural Landscapes of Immigration” Buildings & Landscapes 22, no. 1 Spring 2015

    Paul E. Buchanan Award: Tania Martin, Université Laval School of Architecture Field School in Built Heritage and Cultural Landscapes.

    Abbott Lowell Cummings: Thomas Carter, Building Zion The Material World of the Mormon Settlement

    Henry Glassie Award: presented to Catherine Bishir for her special contributions to the field.

    Orlando Ridout V Fieldwork Fellowships: Five fellowships were given,  four to students who attended Tania Martin’s Field School and one is an independent scholar.

    Students attending the Université Laval School of Architecture Summer Field School in Ca-des-Rosiers, Gaspe, Canada: Maxime Bonesso, Philippe-Daniel Deshaies-Rugama, Laurent Généreux, Luc Saint-Pierre

    Independent Scholar: Barton Ross, AIA, AIC, LEED AP; Survey of 52 surviving gambrel roof structure of Queen Anne’s County Maryland

  • 19 Jul 2016 4:59 PM | Christine R Henry
    by Amina Hassen, City University of New York--Hunter College

    I was notified I had won an Access Grant at the beginning of my last semester of a Master of Urban Planning. Without a job lined up, VAF Durham became what I was most looking forward to—the light at the end of a long grad school tunnel. I blocked my calendar for June 1-4. From Farm to Factory: Piedmont Stories in Black and White was my only certain post-graduation plan. It also became my graduation plan when I learned that my school’s ceremony coincided with the first day of tours. I hesitated for a moment before the thought of sitting through a long ceremony, with hundreds of other graduates, a high likelihood of tired motivational advice, and an even higher likelihood they would mispronounce my name scared me away from my own graduation. VAF made a much more attractive alternative. I sure made the right decision. 

    Figure 1 Thomas Day HouseI arrived at the opening plenary tired, a bit shy, but mostly intensely curious about what the next few days had in store. Being in the Triangle was at once familiar—my family lives just up the road from Saxapahaw—and intensely unfamiliar—my study of planning history has largely focused on New York City, where I currently live. The Bright Leaf Culture and Thomas Day tour pushed me out of my urban comfort zone. At each site I made it a point to ask at least one other person: “Now what are you looking at?” This was an easy icebreaker that helped me find meaning in looking at unfamiliar buildings. Luckily, I was in great hands on a bus full of Figure 2 Thomas Day Staircasefriendly and approachable people who helped me to appreciate the multiple lines of inquiry VAFers bring into the field. Some focused on small details and structure; how materials such as nails or saw marks contribute to a budding story. Others were more interested context and connections within landscapes. I was particularly drawn to piecing together the story of Thomas Day through clues at different sites across Orange and Caswell counties (Fig 1 &2). Asking questions of fellow VAFers opened up space for conversations about the particular landscapes of North Carolina and, more generally, why VAFers keep coming back. 

    Figure 3 Durham City, public housingThe second day of tours brought me back into more familiar territory. City of the New South had us exploring a fascinating urban history that also gave me the opportunity to go off route. One off-course moment led me to public housing in Durham, both past and present (FIG 3-5). Once again, there were many opportunities for conversation, though, food, and talk.

    What I learned from my first VAF affirmed what I already knew: curiosity Figure 4 Senior Housingand asking questions is the only way to piece together stories and histories you want to learn. Whether in rural or urban landscapes, we ultimately are asking the same question: How can you look at a building and use its clues to piece together a story of a place and of a people? The landscapes may change, but the questions you ask of them stay the same.

    Figure 5 Hayti, site of former public housingAt the closing reception, Catherine Bishir said warmly, “Y’all come back now, ya hear?” My family will certainly keep me coming back North Carolina, now with my VAF materials in tow. But I am also looking forward to coming back to VAF. In skipping a graduation from one community, I have been inducted into another. Attending VAF has introduced me to a warm group of scholars and practitioners whose work has and will continue to inform my own.

  • 19 Jul 2016 4:58 PM | Christine R Henry
    Four University of Mary Washington (UMW) undergraduates in historic preservation attended the 2016 VAF conference in Durham in June.   As their faculty sponsor, I was thrilled to be able to share the VAF conference experience with this tireless group.  Each of the students was able to not only attend sessions but assisted the tour coordinators, allowing them to meet even more VAF members.  As you will see from the following reflections, each of them took away a deep appreciation for place and the special collegial atmosphere at VAF conferences. Special thanks to the numerous VAF members, local hosts, and paper presenters that provided such a memorable experience for all of us.  All four ambassadors can’t wait to come to future conferences and share the experience with others.

    -- Dr. Christine Henry, UMW professor and VAN editor


    As an ambassador to this year’s annual conference I feel I really got to experience the best side of VAF. I felt welcomed by all and tremendously enjoyed the whirlwind days and tours and papers.

    Helping on the Piedmont Patchwork tour I was able to learn some of the more important VAF customs, such as not being left by the bus and trying to stay out of pictures. Of particular interest to me were the German headstones and visible marriage marks on timber framed barns.

    On the second day, the tour of Durham and my own explorations made me wish I had more time to get to see the city. To see the ways in which Durham and the surrounding communities embraced their history through architecture taught me more than any class has before on the true value of historic preservation.

    After the wonderful tours I found the paper sessions equally engaging, and afterwards I wanted learn more about almost every topic presented. The conversations had with fellow members, the drinks and dancing are things I will remember fondly. As a student this experience has given me a place to reinforce my drive and keep learning after graduation.

    -Melanie Fuechsel


    Going into VAF I’d heard many good reviews of the organization and the conferences, however I don’t think I was prepared for just how much I’d do, learn, and enjoy. This conference was especially personal for me since I’m from North Carolina and my family has deep roots in the tobacco industry. This was a chance for me to learn more about my own heritage, as well as to share that experience with both new and old friends.

    In the historic preservation field, one of the best way to learn is to explore and see as many historic buildings as you can. This conference took that to a new level, the quantity and quality of the sites that we saw was outstanding and I learned so much more than I expected – in terms of architecture, ticks, and tobacco. Growing up in NC, I’ve seen a lot of tobacco fields in my life, but I don’t think I ever really saw the beauty of the plant until I noticed people taking pictures of the tobacco fields on one of the tours I attended.

    When I go back for my senior year in the fall, I will take with me all the knowledge that I gained this week. I’m armed with lots of pictures and the tour guide books to use as context for buildings that I study in school and beyond. I have stories of neat buildings, wonderful conversations, and newly-created dance moves based on architectural styles to share with my preservation friends.

    --Sarah Rogers


    Before this year’s VAF conference, the only other professional conference I attended was last fall’s National Trust conference in Washington D.C. Because of this, I had no idea what to expect.

    The National Trust conference was a very overwhelming experience for me. It was wonderful to see the broad spectrum of historic preservation and the feeling of togetherness and size that the National Trust promotes, but I found interacting with professionals challenging. The VAF conference was the absolute opposite. Everyone I encountered was friendly, engaging, and genuinely interested in my areas of study. It was fascinating to be exposed to so many scholars and enthusiasts who, despite coming from different disciplines and backgrounds, all share a common interest in vernacular architecture.

    I attended the Bright Leaf and the Farm to Factory tours, and I was surprised with the level of access we were given at each of the sites we visited. Having the ability to see and interact with the building put a different perspective on each tour’s theme. Spending time inside a tobacco barn, discovering how tobacco was cured gave insight into the first steps of tobacco production, while touring renovated tobacco warehouses in Durham showed where the final steps took place. And being around friendly, knowledgeable scholars made the experience that much more enriching.

    --Sam Biggers


    Being selected as a VAF Ambassador gave me an opportunity to learn, network, and engage in conversation with a variety of professionals. As a current undergraduate student at UMW, I focus on museum studies and interpretation. Attending this conference let me see that my education is giving me the tools to engage with structures on many levels.

    By attending this conference, I got to pack months worth of learning into a few days. When I graduate, I want to have a well-rounded idea of what the field of historic preservation is and where it can take me.  I was so intrigued to see that the members of VAF come from a variety of fields. At points I found myself standing next to a photographer, architect, and conservationist, and we were all looking at the same structure through different eyes. I learned so much not only about North Carolina culture, but also simply how to look at a building from multiple perspectives, figuratively and literally.

    I left VAF feeling rejuvenated and had a renewed love of architecture and preservation. With one more year left at UMW, I will be bringing what I learned in Durham back to Fredericksburg and using it to start conversations in class and with my fellow students.

    --Courtney Kuzemchak

  • 19 Jul 2016 4:50 PM | Christine R Henry

    UNCG Students in DurhamThe Interior Architecture/ Historic Preservation students from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) would like to thank the Vernacular Architecture Forum for hosting our involvement in the 2016 conference in Durham. Below are some of our individual reflections about our experiences and some ideas on how we will continue to promote the VAF for years to come. Thank you so much for facilitating our participation in the conference!

    “I am so grateful I was able to attend the VAF Conference this year in Durham. It was an incredible experience to network with so many people in the field and to see a new side of Durham—a city I have lived near for over 10 years, yet never explored in depth. The bus tours were a fun way to explore both the city and rural towns around North Carolina. I had the opportunity to assist Ruth Little with her tours of Milton and Yanceyville, towns dear to my heart. I experienced downtown Durham’s tobacco heritage, the rich African American history of North Carolina Central University and the related College Heights neighborhood, and the monumental architecture of Duke University. I fully anticipate attending the VAF Conference next year in Salt Lake City and will be submitting a paper in the hopes that I receive the Simpson Presenter’s Fellowship. I will continue to promote the VAF as a fun, informative, and welcoming group to other UNCC-G students and people I encounter in the field. I intend to stay a VAF member for many years to come. Thank you again for facilitating our participation in the conference. We felt very welcome.”

    – Samantha Smith

    “VAF was such an incredible experience. I got to experience North Carolina in a new way. I was able to meet people from across the United States who are also passionate about vernacular architecture. As a student, it was nice to be able to connect with professionals from various fields.”

    – Emily-Kate Hannapel

    “As a student ambassador at this year's VAF conference, I was thrilled to be able to support a tour of my city on the bus tour of the City of Durham. Being able to see one's city through a new lens is truly a gift. I appreciated the tour's focus on NC labor history through the identification of the tobacco and textile engines that drove the creation of Durham and the buildings that housed that history, including the textile mill villages still in tact. I enjoyed the visit to the Hayti Heritage Center and appreciated the focus on the role of urban renewal and Highway 147 in destroying the social fabric of a thriving Black neighborhood in Durham that continues to still impact that community and the rest of the city today. In addition to HHC, Andre Vann also showed our group some fantastic homes based in the North Carolina Central University surrounding area and got me interested in visiting the NCCU archives very soon! We also had a fabulous lunch of delicious Southern food at the Blue Note Grill, where I met several exciting people in the field I intend to stay in touch with. 

    The home tours in the Cleveland-Holloway neighborhood, however, while interesting, for me raised some deep concerns with the way in which some of the historic preservation community is talking about (or not talking about) gentrification--I heard the War on Drugs-era term "crack house" used twice over the course of the home tours by current upper/middle class white residents along with their comments about hoping to remove some of their poor and working class neighbors (mostly people of color) from their homes. It was both disturbing and discouraging for me as a Durham-based public historian who is involved in the fight against both gentrification and racism in Durham's city planning efforts, two things I encountered as a student ambassador during this part of our city bus tour.Overall, I learned a lot about my city and I truly appreciated this opportunity!”

          Kimber Heinz 

    “The Vernacular Architecture Conference in Durham was the most valuable conference I have been to in my tenure as a graduate student at UNCG. The days were packed with unique and personal experiences of the architecture of the piedmont region around Durham. I was so impressed by how many places we had available to us on the tours, how well organized and documented each stop was, and how special so many of the places were. Some of the highlights were meeting Ben Williamson in Yanceyville at his home Clarendon Hall, seeing the incredibly unique Caswell County Courthouse, and the charming people and architecture at the Rosenwald School. And I have to give a shout out to the planners of the food—it was North Carolina at its best!” 

    – Sheila O’Rourke


    “I attended the Vernacular Architecture Forum in Durham NC this year, and was delightfully surprised at the treasures I discovered.  Durham has a rich history and interesting architecture; as a lifelong North Carolinian resident I'm almost ashamed that I had not realized this before.  On the bus tour of Durham I was able to see the cast off buildings of tobacco manufacturing that have been tastefully recreated into office and retail space.  One space in particular left a lasting impression: a collective of artists' studios, which from the lobby and interconnecting corridors felt intentionally stark and institutional, but behind each door revealed the creativity of community artist's whose work-in-progress was exposed for all to see.  Also on the tour were several homes in varying stages of preservation.  I always appreciate behind-the-scene access to interesting spaces, and being able to tour someone's home is an intimate and revealing opportunity.  Several churches also caught my eye: the stained glass in the Hayti Heritage Center, the stone facade of the Holy Cross Catholic Church on the campus of NC Central University, and the sublime Duke Chapel on the campus of Duke University.  Though far from vernacular, the Duke Chapel was remarkable and I enjoyed just sitting, staring, and wondering in this magnificent structure.

    Beyond the tour, the Saturday paper sessions provided the chance to get out of the heat, meet like minded people, and hear what was new in the field.  As a public history major with an interest in house museums, I was particularly interested in the two speakers from Monticello and took away some fresh ideas on how digital recreations of long fallen structures can provide the public with information on historical architecture without the cost of constructing reproductions.  Monticello's Mulberry Row, the former 18th century slave quarters for Jefferson's plantation, has a handful of reconstructed samples of slave dwellings, but through the digital project, visitors can view numerous plantation structures as they would have looked at three different time periods in history.”

    – M. Lewis

    “The Vernacular Architecture Conference in Durham was an extremely exciting event to participate in this year. The conference structure was unique with tours for the first two full days followed by a research centered paper session day. All members were friendly and interested in the student ambassadors. I felt fully embraced by a group of like-minded built environment enthusiasts and problem solvers. Durham was a wonderful host and a perfect location to discuss vernacular architecture! Out of all the conferences I have attended during my graduate school experience, this organization's annual meeting was a valuable experience for me.”

    – Mardita Murphy

    “American architect, Robert Venturi, tells us that : "A valid architecture evokes many levels of meaning and combinations of focus." We may mostly infer that he is speaking of a type of conceptual architecture, the high styles which form the discursive cases often cited as models in academia, in the social imagination and which taken together seem to drive engines of commerce and economics.

    As true as this may be, the VAF forum offers an alternate lens through which to ascertain meaning. With hot Southern days under a blazing sky and broken air conditioning; the logistics of herding minds and bodies with diverse interests and a great deal of, dare I say it? ... passion, the simple stewardship of ordinary spaces where life happens--The VAF offers the most intimate and familiar lens for architecture: the human perspective, with all of its challenges and all of it's innovation in the face of an uncontrollable experience of reality. It is in this realm of day-to-day reality confronting realty that we are offered understanding to many levels of human experience. In shaping our environment, indeed in shaping our perspective on the built environment, we create memory of place whose significance appears to us as the most valid form of architecture simply because it holds meaning to us (as humans).”

    – Christopher Scott Vann

  • 19 Jul 2016 4:44 PM | Christine R Henry

    Seven University of Delaware graduate students attended the 2016 VAF conference in Durham, thanks to generous support from the VAF’s Ambassadors Award and the Center for Historic Architecture & Design (CHAD).  Led by Dr. Rebecca Sheppard and Catherine Morrissey, the UD contingent represented four degree programs—including the MA in Historic Preservation (Kevin Barni, Emma Gencarelli, and Lauren Johnson), the PhD in Preservation Studies (Michael Emmons), the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture (Michelle Fitzgerald and Allie Ward), and the MA in Urban Affairs & Public Policy (Gemma Tierney). 

    After driving from Delaware to Durham on Wednesday, the group scattered to different tours on Thursday and Friday, frequently posting photos with the #vaf2016 to social media as a record of their experiences. Just as valuable to the students as the immersive lessons gained on some fabulous bus tours, were the connections made during the tours, the reception, coffee breaks, paper sessions, and serendipitous conversations in elevators and the hotel lobby.

    The students wished to share some of their thoughts and experiences in their own words.

    Michelle Fitzgerald and Allie Ward:

    As students at Winterthur, attending VAF Durham was a wonderful chance for us to meet people in the field and learn about traditional architectural forms in situ.  One of the highlights for us was listening to the paper presentations on Saturday. Hearing about current scholarship and field work was inspiring, especially the focus on African American history, structures, and craftsmen.

    During our Piedmont Patchwork tour, we were excited to see the Quaker meetinghouses. They are a familiar architectural form to us, but seeing the buildings in the south developed a new context for understanding the importance of the building style. Comparing forms of Pennsylvania Quaker architecture with the similar Germanic style throughout North Carolina was a perfect introduction to comparative forms of typologies in the field.

    Old Salem on Sunday was one of our favorite stops. While there, we experienced a true connection in styles between the Moravian architecture and furnishings. We had a chance to look at some Moravian furniture and were able to pick out distinctive construction styles that were similarly reflected in their architecture.

    Gemma Tierney:

    I came away from the conference in Durham with an appreciation of how thought-provoking this conference is for both students and professionals. I especially enjoyed the varied perspectives offered by those who interpreted the sites we toured--from members of the Pope family at the Captain John S. Pope Farm to new homeowners on Holloway Street, from docents in Milton to developers at the Golden Belt Manufacturing Company site. I had previously read articles by some of the academics attending the conference, so it was fascinating to meet them in person. Their more familiar research veins were complemented by the work of presenters only recently breaking into the field. Overall, my first time attending a VAF conference proved to be an enriching way to learn about the Durham area, and the work of historic preservationists across the country.

    Kevin Barni:

    My first VAF conference was full of new experiences for me. I attended as a Simpson Fellow, excited to present my research to an audience of like-minded professionals. I was pleasantly surprised at the support and help that I received related to my work. The fresh eyes on a topic that I was so entrenched in provided me with new ideas and approaches I had not considered.

    I especially enjoyed posting images to social media during the tours. It made me really consider the sites in a way that would be compelling to viewers who were not there. That required me to find angles and aspects of the sites that would have gone unnoticed if I had not been approaching the site in this way.

    Lauren Johnson:

    VAF helped me to ask questions about a familiar place that I had never asked before. As a Southerner, I knew the landscape well and could tell you where the tobacco fields were, but now I realize why they are there and that while patterns, placement, and economy may grow familiar to some, understanding the landscape through a vernacular lens gives new life to sense of place and cultural identity. Another instance of encouragement occurred walking through a Durham neighborhood while discussing the “three bay vernacular” with a VAF veteran who laughed that he didn’t know what to call it either and that we’d need to go inside to see the floor plan. 

    Emma Gencarelli:

    It was the casual discussions that really made Durham 2016 for me. Standing by to listen to an expert explain their thoughts about a vernacular building was a free lecture and a look into the way others see and then interpret in these building types. It was also nice to have them suggest that I would have something interesting to say as a recent graduate. Sitting with some of the familiar names from my own coursework, but instead talking about kayaking in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, or retiring to Maine, or clinking beer glasses while listening to an absolutely biblical thunderstorm pound on the roof were even more impactful meetings for me. It showed me that students, both still studying and recently graduated, were valued as colleagues.

    Michael Emmons:

    This was my third consecutive VAF, and probably the most rewarding yet. For starters, I was honored to participate in the experimental 'Field Notes' panel on new approaches to fieldwork. Later that evening, it was touching to see Catherine Bishir and Tom Carter recognized for their invaluable contributions to vernacular architecture studies. And, as usual, throughout the conference, I enjoyed reconnecting with familiar faces and encountering lots of new ones. I'm already looking forward to seeing everyone in Salt Lake City!

    After a final tour of Old Salem on Sunday morning, the UD caravan headed north.  The students left North Carolina re-energized for summer internships and new jobs, already planning how to attend next year’s conference in Salt Lake City.  Thank you, VAF Ambassador Awards, for a wonderful experience!

  • 19 Jul 2016 4:36 PM | Christine R Henry

    VAF Durham tour leader Dr. Alexander Sayf Cummings, Associate Professor Georgia State University Department of History recounts the VAF visit to the Burroughs Wellcome building in Durham on the blog Tropics of Meta, a blog dedicated to historiography of the masses.  

  • 19 Jul 2016 4:16 PM | Christine R Henry

    by Megan Scott, BOLA Architecture + Planning

    The Hori Furoba (or Bathhouse) located in King County, Washington, proximate to the small city of Auburn, is a traditional Japanese domestic building.  It was built by the Hori family in 1930, and was a part of the family’s daily routine throughout the 1930s when they resided in the nearby Neely mansion.  The Horis were among the Japanese-Americans who were interned during World War II.  Subsequent, non-Japanese owners of the Neely Mansion used the small building primarily for storage, and over the years it fell into disrepair. 

    In 2013, the Neely Mansion Association, a volunteer-run historical society, came together to restore the Bathhouse, securing the funding, researching the history, conducting oral interviews, and realizing the vision to repair the structure.


    The 10’ x 16’ structure was originally constructed in 1930 by Shigeichi Hori, and was used for daily bathing, laundry, and contained the property's only flushing toilet.  According to the King County Landmark nomination, it is the only known remaining Japanese Bathhouse in the White River Valley, where the building type was once ubiquitous among Japanese farmers.

    After years of changed tenancy and ownership of the main house, the Bathhouse was relocated in the 1980s to an adjacent site where it was used as a shed, and maybe a poultry roost.  In 1998, it was stabilized and relocated back to its current site, in approximately the original location according to historic photographs, where the Neely Mansion Association planned to restore it as an interpretive exhibit.  Sadly, the unprotected exterior had suffered from years of neglect, and the loss of original interior building fabric left many questions unanswered.

    The Association established a Bathhouse Committee in late 2013.  It began meeting monthly to document existing conditions, research historic records, and contract for documentary photographs.  It recorded oral histories with Dr. Frank Hori and Mary Hori Nakamura -- two siblings who had once lived with their parents on the property and used the original Bathhouse -- and called on experts with personal experience with this special building type.  Through this process, the Committee carefully considered the best methods to recreate missing fabric and reflect the building’s historic character for interpretation.  The Association brought in historic preservation architects, BOLA Architecture + Planning, to create drawings and a digital model to awaken 80-year old memories, which helped confirm spatial configurations.  It hired a local general contractor, Big Fish Construction, to implement the restoration plan.


    On the exterior, the unpainted  wood siding has an unusual lapping pattern – long shiplap planks have the bottom lip lapped onto the face of the board below, creating a shingled effect, rather than a smooth, flat finish.  On the interior, the studs were visible, exposing the backside of the exterior siding.  Since the poor condition of the siding did not allow for preservation of the structure for longevity or for any kind of archival use, the existing siding was removed and salvaged.  New rough-sawn straight lap sheathing, the size of the original siding, was installed, layered with new building paper, and the original, repaired siding was reinstalled.  The wood was stabilized and protected on all sides with an application of clear penetrating oil to preserve the original untreated appearance. 

    While every effort was made to salvage and reinstall the original siding in the original locations, the material was brittle and fragile, necessitating replacement in some places.  Salvaged or new material, reasonably matching the species, profile, surface textures, and weathered color of the existing siding, was used to patch in missing boards.  The newer boards were treated with a baking soda and vinegar mixture to speed up the darker, weathered appearance. 

    As a subtle indication of the new siding, and with a nod to Japanese culture, an architectural interpretation of an ancient Japanese pottery repair technique called kintsukuroi was employed.  This repair traditionally involves reassembling the broken pieces, using metallic materials to highlight the repairs.  The process accepts and honors the intrinsic value of the original piece; increases the value by the addition of precious metal; is understood to become more beautiful for being broken; and gives new service life to the artifact.  In the architectural interpretation here, where repairs were made to the original siding, the darkened metal infill material was allowed to show through, to subtly identify the new material used to repair the Bathhouse.

    According to historic records and oral histories, the building had a smooth gapped wood plank floor laid over wood framing, which allowed bathing water to drain through.  There was no foundation, but perhaps brick or masonry block which provided a firebox beneath the tub.  To protect it and interior artifacts from moisture and pests, the building was placed on a concrete slab and continuous foundation, with a small recess for the interpretive tub-heating fire box at the east end.  Gapped, smooth floor boards were installed on sleepers above the slab to recreate the historic appearance.

    The interior had retained a variety of original and new framing members and other elements added when the building was used as a storage shed, including original wall sheathing, doubled studs at rotted bottoms, and diagonal bracing.  New framing was needed to complete the proposed structural stabilization, while unneeded non-original bracing was removed.  To achieve a less jarring visual appearance, and a more accurate representation of the original unfinished interior, the original wood was lightly sanded to expose lighter surfaces, adjacent to new sheathing and floor planks, and to brighten the space as it would have appeared when originally constructed. 

    The reconstructed oval soaking tub was the result of extensive research.  It was determined to have been originally fabricated with a metal bottom (with a fire directly below, fueled from the exterior), and tight wood slats on the sides, like a barrel.  On the interior, a wooden "raft" floated on the water to be stepped onto and submerged to prevent touching the hot metal with bare skin during a soak.   

    Appropriate salvaged items were secured from various public and private sources, including the laundry area window, the front door, and period toilet and washing machine.  The “new” window and doors were consistent with oral histories and the 1939 tax photo.

    At an earlier time, a non-original window had been installed in the bath area of the building.  As part of the interpretive plan, this opening was strategically converted to a "peeking window," allowing visitors the opportunity to view the bath area without entering the building.  A plexiglass panel was installed and two "shutters" of matching wood siding cover the opening when closed.

    The completed project will more fully interpret the role of Japanese American farming in the valley.  Planning for the restoration and construction was significantly funded by a generous grant from King County’s 4Culture Special Projects program.  An opening dedication ceremony will be held at the site on June 25, 2016.


    Figure 1: 1939 Tax Assessor’s Photo, with the Neely Mansion prior to restoration, and bathhouse on the right.


    Figure 2: As-found condition in 2015.

    Figure 3: As-found condition in 2015.

    Figure 4: Exterior siding repair.


    Figure 5A: Example of artistic Japanese ceramic repair technique.


    Figure 5B: Example of artistic Japanese ceramic repair technique.

    Figure 6: Partially sheathed furoba being lifted onto a new foundation.


    Figure 7: Interior before.


    Figure 8: Interior after with "new" laundry tub.


    Figure 9: Newly constructed tub, inspired by the Hori's oral accounts.


    Figure 10: South façade of the restored furoba, completed in February 2016, with open "peeking" window.


    BOLA Architecture + Planning is a small, entrepreneurial firm with a professional staff of five who focus solely on historic buildings and sites.  They work extensively with the standards and guidelines for historic rehabilitation, and are experienced melding older technologies and construction types with contemporary codes and systems, and have worked on over 200 local or National Register properties.  In addition to architectural planning, design, and construction projects, BOLA also specializes in design review and agency negotiation assistance; historic resources research, surveys and landmark designations; building documentation and condition surveys; federal and local tax credit certification applications; and evaluations and impact assessments for SEPA/NEPA and Section 106 Review. 

    The future and the past are not incompatible.  With this philosophy, our design and planning concepts address specific project requirements and goals.  We maintain passionate interests in history, preservation, and the continued use of buildings and sites.  Our designs preserve the unique qualities of building craftsmanship, materials and forms, and incorporate these into additions, and restorations and rehabilitations to revitalize the existing structures and sites. 

  • 19 Jul 2016 4:13 PM | Christine R Henry

    Because of the long-term success of the New England Chapter of the Vernacular Architecture Forum in holding conferences, running local tours, and serving the needs of the regional VAF membership, the VAF board seeks to assist individuals and groups in establishing additional chapters. Seed money is available to nascent organizations composed of VAF members that will promote the forum’s educational mission and institutional goals.

    Chapters should be designed to serve the needs of their constituency, so programming and structure will vary.

    To discuss the process of starting a chapter and applying for start-up funds, please contact Will Moore at moorewd@bu.edu. Information about the VAF’s chapter program is also available at: http://vernaculararchitectureforum.org/Chapters

  • 19 Jul 2016 3:49 PM | Christine R Henry

    Attention Student Architectural Historians!

    Spend your summer conducting research on a nationally significant U.S. building or site and preparing a history to become part of the permanent HABS collection. The HABS/SAH Sally Kress Tompkins Fellowship is a joint program of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) that permits a graduate student architectural historian to work on a 12-week HABS history project during the summer of 2017. The Fellow’s research interests and goals will inform the building or site selected for documentation by HABS staff. Applicants should be pursuing studies in U.S. architectural history or a related field.  The award consists of a $10,000 stipend, and SAH conference registration and travel expenses up to $1,000.

    Amber Bailey 2016 Fellow at SAH Pasadena

    Applications accepted Sept. 1 – Dec. 31, 2016.

    For more information visit: http://www.nps.gov/hdp/jobs/tompkins.htm

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