• 02 Nov 2022 11:32 AM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    As always, there are many things happening at VAF, and this long-awaited newsletter will give you just a hint at our activity. Let me start with our new African American Fieldwork Program, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which got off to a terrific start this summer with the first of three successive fieldwork sites.

    I had a great visit to the location of our first research project, led by VAF veterans Michael Chiarappa and Janet Sheridan, which took place in July in the tiny hamlet of Bellevue on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The setting is lovely: a waterfront community of small homes perched on the edge of an inlet of Chesapeake Bay. VAF, led by former president Louis Nelson of the University of Virginia, received a grant of $750,000 from the Mellon Foundation in 2021 to help Black communities investigate and preserve their historic landscapes and cultural heritage. A task force of VAF members organized an application process and selected three sites that will hold month-long summer field schools for two summers each. In addition to Bellevue, MD, the locations will include sites in Georgia (Summer 2023-24) and Virginia (Summer 2024-25).

    It was appropriate that I arrived at this history field school on one of the oldest ferry crossings in the US, the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry. Bellevue appears to be the “other side of the tracks” – I mean ferry – from the white village of Oxford on the south side of the crossing, where tidy Victorian-era homes line the streets that lead to an ancient inn adjacent to the ferry landing. The small homes in Bellevue line up in rows that stretch between the bayfront and a backwater channel. Maritime industries of all sorts flourished here, with watermen harvesting crabs and oysters, and packing houses and canneries sending these delicacies off to markets across the country. An African American family opened their own oyster packing house in the mid-twentieth century and it flourished until overfishing and toxins devastated marine life in Chesapeake Bay. Bellevue retains a number of interesting houses, but an incursion of new, oversized second homes indicates that the future of this modest community is threatened by development.

    Instructors Michael (a faculty member from nearby Washington College) and Janet (who has completed significant work on maritime and African American landscapes near Delaware Bay) were ideal leaders of the project. They laid out an ambitious yet do-able plan of investigation to be completed in only four short weeks. Students traded off between documenting remaining historic houses, doing deed research, and interviewing residents to add a sense of lived experience to the drawings and records. Janet and Michael will be working during the off-season to collate this summer’s findings and plan next year‘s work accordingly.

    While the site itself is of great importance, the highlight of my visit was the students themselves. The initial task force that organized the selection process was unsure of the response we would receive for this first field school, but we needn’t have worried. Michael and Janet had a top-notch crew of ten graduate students to work with, coming from as far as Texas and Antigua and representing a variety of fields, including architecture, urban planning, archival work, political science, and more. All of the students were African American and all were enthusiastic about their work, even when the instructors made architects comb through county records and traditional historians draw floor plans and elevations. The strong camaraderie among the students was obvious, as a good field school encourages. I invited the students to become regular VAF members and to share their field school experience with us in the Vernacular Architecture Newsletter.

    I was fortunate to join the group for their farewell dinner at a fine bayside restaurant. It was here that I began to understand one of the key elements of this field school’s success. The DeShields family has been part of the fabric of Bellevue social life for many generations, and current family members have played a major role in both preserving Bellevue’s African American heritage overall and fostering the work of VAF’s field school. The DeShields are planning to incorporate the findings from this summer’s investigation as part of a new heritage museum planned in a salvaged commercial building in the village.


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    In other news, the VAF Board is trying a new schedule: in addition to the in-person meeting we hold during the annual conference, we will try holding two virtual meetings (October and January) instead of a single in-person meeting in November. Items the board discussed this fall:

    • the “Future Vision” committee, chaired by President-elect Elaine Jackson-Retondo, which will consider ideas for new adventures for our venerable organization.
    • a new Governance Committee to examine ways in which we should structure VAF to ensure proper oversight of our finances and operations.
    • upcoming conferences, including our next one in Plymouth, MA in May 2023, followed by the Keweenaw Peninsula in Upper Michigan (2024), and sites proposed for future years.

     We look forward to seeing you in Massachusetts next year!

    Jim Buckley

    VAF President


  • 02 Nov 2022 11:31 AM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    It’s VAF awards season, so check out our categories and see if you or a colleague should be up for a prize, award or fellowship.

    Deadline for Application is February 1, 2023, EXCEPT the Cummings Award, December 20, 2022.

    Click for more information on Calls for Nominations:

    Bishir Prize

    Buchanan Prize

    Cummings Prize

    Access Award

    Advocacy Award

    Ambassador Award


  • 02 Nov 2022 11:30 AM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    You can help us stay in touch with you by making sure your mailing and email addresses are complete and up to date in our membership database.  If you have moved recently, please go to the VAF website, log into your membership account, and make those changes. We want to make certain you receive all the benefits of membership, including Buildings & Landscapes. If you need help or have questions, please email Paula Mohr at secretary@vafweb.org.

    Paula Mohr

    VAF Secretary


  • 02 Nov 2022 11:25 AM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    On September 24, members of the newly forming Chesapeake Chapter of the Vernacular Architecture Forum toured two very early and historically significant properties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Cloverfields, begun in 1705, and Third Haven Friends Meeting House, begun in 1684-85. As two of Maryland’s oldest buildings, both offer primary evidence of early building practices. Over forty VAFers turned out to see these amazing properties. Willie Graham hosted the visit to Cloverfields, along with Sherrie Marsh, both of whom were part of the team that recently completed a meticulous study and restoration. Cloverfields began as a two-story, hall-parlor house with stair tower, erected by owner, builder, and planter Philemon Hensley, with numerous changes and additions made by the family between 1729 and 1761. Further refinements were made in 1768-69 including the introduction of a center passage, Rococo mantels, plaster paneling, and a terraced lawn and formal gardens. Among the many remarkable components that set this house apart are its massive bent principal rafters, heavy board false-plate, and early brick construction that includes a variety of bonding patterns, glazed-headers, rubbed stretchers, and belt course and water table stepped at the corners in the English mode.

    Next was Third Haven Friends Meeting House, with a tour hosted by Carl Lounsbury, who is likewise conducting athorough investigation. VAFers were also greeted by meeting members. Third Haven is perhaps the oldest positively dated building in Maryland and likely the oldest extant Friends meetinghouse in the country, dating to 1684-1685. It was erected by carpenter John Salter approximating specifications outlined in two surviving agreements to encompass a T-plan with cross-wing entrance and stair hall. In 1797 the building was significantly modified, removing the wing and adding a six-bay section with a retractable partition and dual entrances into separate men’s and women’s spaces, a plan indicative of the emerging American Friends meetinghouse prototype. Despite these modifications, Third Haven retains much of its original framing, roof structure, and early interior woodwork, and has never been electrified, plumbed, or centrally heated. Known as The Great Meeting House, it sheltered the most vital Quaker meeting on the Eastern Shore, accommodating quarterly meetings and the half-year meeting of Friends from the Western Shore around Annapolis, playing a significant role in the establishment of Quakerism in the colonies.

    Catherine Lavoie


  • 02 Nov 2022 11:05 AM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    Buildings & Landscapes 29.2 (fall 2022) is now available to members via ProjectMUSE. Members can login to VAF’s website and access all articles under the “Publications” tab. This issue includes:

    ·         “ A Fieldwork forum for the VAF,” compiled by Brent R. Fortenberry and James Michael Buckley and with articles by Danielle S. Willkens, Elaine B. Stiles, Sarah Lopez, and Arijit Sen

    ·         John Dean Davis, “Hope, Anger, and Engineering in a Reconstruction Landscape”

    ·         William R. Tharp, “Roads, Race, and Retail: The Transformation of Short Pump, Virginia

    ·         Sarah Fayen Scarlett and Laura Walikainen Rouleau, “Object Lesson: Architecture at Pullman National Monument as Both an Agent of Division and Collective Identity”

    ·         Book reviews by Kevin P. Block, Timothy Kelly, Wei (Windy) Zhao, and Jennifer L. Thomas

    Buildings & Landscapes 29.1 (spring 2022) is also available! This issue features: 

    ·         Philip Herrington, “Fine Airs in the Sand Hills: Richmond Bath, a Summer Retreat in a Landscape of Slavery”

    ·         Kathleen Pierce, “New Spaces for a New Midwifery at the Lying-In Hospital of the City of New York”

    ·         Valentina Davila, “Altars of Hope: Venezuelan Domestic Workers and the Material Culture of the Divine”

    ·         Marie Frank, “Object Lesson: Fiske Kimball and the Restoration of Moor’s End, Nantucket”

    ·         Book reviews by Paula Lupkin, Lake Douglas, Keith Bresnahan, and Kathryn E. Holliday

    Buildings & Landscapes is now looking for papers for volume 31 (2024). Our subject matter includes all aspects of vernacular architecture and urban, suburban, and rural landscapes seen through interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary methods. The editors encourage submission of scholarly articles that integrate fieldwork and archival/primary source research into original arguments about the history of everyday buildings and/or landscapes. See the author’s guidelines here for more information or contact editors Lydia Brandt, lbrandt.usc@gmail.com, and Michael Chiarappa, mchiarappa2@washcoll.edu, for questions or more information. Manuscripts are considered and peer reviewed on a rolling basis, but should be received by April 1, 2023 to be considered for volume 31. 

    B&L thanks its outgoing Image Editor, Ian Stevenson, and Book Review Editor, Rachel Leibowitz, for their outstanding service to the journal. We welcome Editor Designate Margaret M. Grubiak and Book Review Editor Amanda C. Clark to the team for volume 30 (spring 2023)!

  • 02 Nov 2022 11:05 AM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    The National Park Service would like VAF members to be aware of deadlines for the following competitive programs:

    11/8/2022 African American Civil Rights

    12/6/2022 Save Americas Treasures 

    12/20/2022 Semiquincentennial        

    For more information, go to the NPS website

    Katherine Carey, NPS


  • 02 Nov 2022 11:04 AM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    Amie Edwards, PhD Candidate in the School of Architecture at the University of Florida, has received a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship award to continue her dissertation fieldwork in Kumasi, Ghana. She presented a related paper at the San Antonio VAF conference on the 19th-century Asante Palace, which focused on the Akan Twi language and cultural meaning. 

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    JoJo Galvan Mora published a piece about the Klas Restaurant in Cicero, IL, a recently demolished example of vernacular architecture that evolved over time from Czech to “Czech-Mex.”

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    William B. Rhoads and Leslie Melvin are co-authors of Elverhoj: The Arts and Crafts Colony at Milton-on-Hudson, published in 2022 by Black Dome Press and distributed by RIT Press. Elverhoj is an Arts and Crafts colony established on the picturesque west shore of the Hudson River in 1912 by Danish American artists and craftsmen led by Anders Andersen. Little known today, the colony achieved a national reputation before World War I. After the decline of workshop, the property was acquired by followers of the charismatic Black leader Father Divine, becoming one of his popular "heavens."

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    Laura Ruberto has just published an article in Material Culture Review/Revue de la culture matérielle on Italian POWs and creative work, a topic she has presented on at VAF conferences

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    Laura Ruberto and Joseph Sciorra co-edited a special issue on the topic of "Monuments, Memorials, and Italian Migrations" for the journal Italian American Review. (Winter 2022) 12.1. The contents include:

    Disrupted and Unsettled: An Introduction to Monuments, Memorials, and Italian Migrations by Laura E. Ruberto and Joseph Sciorra 

    “Hero of Two Worlds”: The Equestrian Monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi in Buenos Aires, Argentina by Heather Sottong 

    Places of Memory and Struggles for Identities: Ernesto Verrucci's 1938 Monument to Khedive Ismail in Alexandria, Egypt by Stefano Giannini 

    “Mussolini's Column”: Fascist Memorials and the Politics of Italian American Identity in Chicago by Fraser Ottanelli 

    Memorials and the Mine Disaster in Monongah, West Virginia: From Trauma to an Italian Global Memoryscape by Joan Saverino

    More information is available here

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    Amber Wiley will join the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design as Presidential Associate Professor and the inaugural Matt and Erika Nord Director of the Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites (CPCRS). She will teach principally in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation.

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    Jane Wolff has been awarded the 2022 Margolese National Design for Living Prize, which “celebrates a Canadian designer whose work in the built environment improves the lives of people and their communities.” 

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    Wie (Windy) Zhao has several pieces of good news. Her book  Home Beyond the House: Transformation of Life, Place and Tradition in Rural China will be published by Routledge in November; she has received a two-year research grant (£135,328.8) from the Endangered Wooden Architecture Program hosted by Oxford Brookes University to study Interconnected Wooden Residential Structures in Remote Rural China, and she has been honored with the Emerging Legacy Award from the College of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • 02 Nov 2022 8:43 AM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    The Department of Historic Preservation at the University of Kentucky (UK) is pleased to announce the launch of a new online master’s degree in Heritage Resources Administration (MHRA).  Building on the success of the department’s online Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation, the online MHRA integrates historic preservation coursework with courses in nonprofit management, public administration, and financial management.  The new, 36-hour MHRA was developed in cooperation with UK’s Martin School of Public Policy and Administration.  It includes 27 credit hours of core courses and nine elective credit hours. The core courses are split between historic preservation and public administration and include a capstone project.  The MHRA program will provide aspiring leaders of preservation nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and private firms with the skills that they will need to become leaders and administrators in the heritage sphere.  The degree is intended to be taken entirely online.

    For further information, contact Douglas Appler.


  • 02 Nov 2022 1:24 AM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    Though the initial deadline has passed, Carl Lounsbury advises us that the Vernacular Architecture Group (VAG) of the U.K. is still looking for more submissions that deal with trans-national connections with Britain for their conference in January 2023. Presentations for this conference can be made via Zoom. 

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