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  • 01 Feb 2023 12:17 PM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    For the last several years, VAF has been the very fortunate beneficiary of significant financial support from a wonderful anonymous donor. Through this person’s generosity, our organization has been able to build an endowment of an amount that exceeds the wildest dreams of our Founding Folks. The question now is how we want VAF to use these significant resources – what will the next iteration of our organization be?

    Over the past year and a half, the Board has been “envisioning” VAF’s possible future with this solid financial foundation. In these conversations, board members have emphasized that fieldwork remains our priority – the continuing exploration of the ordinary environment through measurement, materials analysis, archival records, and just plain thinking about the world around us. I hope you have had a chance to check out the “Fieldwork Forum” in the latest issue of Buildings & Landscapes, in which several of our members discuss changing methods of fieldwork and the new opportunities we have to understand our built environment.

    The board conversations have also indicated a desire to help VAF members promulgate new findings through both traditional and newer digital media. This means we need to revisit the ways in which we communicate the activities of the organization and its members. If you haven’t “friended” VAF yet on your favorite social media sites, be sure to do so to see the terrific #VAF work being done by Melanie Fuechsel, with support from Paula Mohr and Margaret Grubiak. We will need to revisit (again!) how our website functions, and we are in the early stages of plans to “webinize” our work through online mentoring sessions on topics like fieldwork and publishing. There is plenty of room to grow our online presence, and we welcome anyone with digital “chops” to help make this happen.

    To foster thinking about how we build VAF’s future, we are bringing the discussion from the board room to the general membership this year. I have asked President-elect Elaine Jackson-Retondo to head a new “Vision” Committee that will help us identify and realize new ways to carry out the work of the VAF. This group is open to any members interested in building the next phase of the organization (see the invitation from Elaine elsewhere in this newsletter). All of us have experienced how rapidly our world has changed in recent years, and this is an important opportunity to help VAF grow and address key contemporary issues. How can we build on the wonderful experience unfolding in our Mellon/UVa African American Field School, where communities of color are providing new interpretive frameworks for understanding the landscapes of underrepresented populations? How can we leverage new technologies to provide more information faster, without losing the intangible knowledge gained by hand-measuring a building? How might we increase our use of oral histories to inform the physical fieldwork we do? No idea is too small or too big – what would you like to see VAF doing in the coming years?

    One of the key questions the board is grappling with now is whether we are  ready financially and structurally to begin hiring paid staff to help us carry out our work. This would be a big step in expanding our reach, but it is also likely to affect the hands-on, volunteer spirit that has carried VAF forward through the years. I feel that we have a responsibility to act on the challenge our anonymous donor has provided us with his/her/their generous gifts, and I hope that we can find a way to add professional staffing in the near future to move us forward. In the meantime, please join the conversation to celebrate what VAF has accomplished so far and map out what we can achieve in the future!

    Jim Buckley, VAF President

  • 01 Feb 2023 12:16 PM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    New Committee Opportunity What is the vision for VAF in the future?  Is this a question you have considered? The VAF Board brainstormed this question and envisioned a range of possibilities during the May meeting. The new VAF Future Vision Committee will consider these possibilities and will develop specific recommendations for potential future efforts and additional pathways to greater outreach, engagement and relevancy. All who are interested in serving on the committee, please email the chair, Elaine Jackson-Retondo at jacksonretondo@gmail.com. The first meeting of the committee will be in late February/early March.

  • 01 Feb 2023 12:15 PM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    VAF needs your help! The Communications Committee will be looking at strategies for improving our communications as well as a new website. If you have interest or skills in outreach or website development, consider joining us on the committee. Contact Paula Mohr at secretary@vafweb.org for more information or to express your interest.

  • 01 Feb 2023 12:13 PM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    The Plymouth Conference Committee is pleased to invite you to join us May 17-20 for the 2023 Vernacular Architecture Forum. We will be located in beautiful Plymouth, Massachusetts, at Hotel 1620, a short walk from the harbor and the Town’s many memorials and historic buildings. To Native Americans who were members of the Wampanoag Tribe, the site was known as Patuxet. The English settlers who arrived in December of 1620 resided on the lands natives had abandoned during a devastating epidemic a few years earlier.  Although they were not called the Pilgrims until the late eighteenth century, their story became part of America’s founding mythology. The real Plymouth is part of a regional habitat shaped by its maritime world, layers of cultural history, and episodes of immigration. Its buildings, monuments, and landscapes offer exceptional opportunities to investigate the past, reflect on continuities and changes, and consider our stewardship of the future. More information may be found at the Conference website. Register early as several tours have limited capacity.

  • 01 Feb 2023 12:12 PM | 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

  • 01 Feb 2023 12:11 PM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    Anna Andrzejewski will be in residence at the Hagley Museum and Library as a Hagley-NEH fellow between January and June, working on her book project on the history of South Florida’s vacation and retirement communities after World War II.

    Andrew Dolkart is one of the three founders and directors of the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project which has won the National Trust for Historic Preservation Trustees' Award for Organizational Excellence for its "superlative and continued achievement in historic preservation" and its "trailblazing approach in making a previously invisible history visible."  

    Ted J Ligibel, PhD, received the James Marston Fitch Preservation Education Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Council for Preservation Education.  The award recognized his 45+ years in historic preservation, spanning 30 years as a preservation educator, including 20 years as director of Eastern Michigan University's Graduate Historic Preservation Program.

    Diana J. Painter, PhD is pleased to announce the recent 20-year anniversary of her firm Painter Preservation. Founded in 2022 in Petaluma, CA, as a full-service historic preservation firm has offices in Spokane, WA and Santa Rosa, CA. Painter Preservation focuses primarily on vernacular architecture in the Western states. More information can be found at www.preservationplans.com.

  • 01 Feb 2023 12:00 PM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    The Society for Commercial Archeology is seeking proposals for our May 31-June 4 conference in Erie, PA: "Amused in the Alleghenies." Paper sessions and lightening talks will take place on Friday, June 2. The SCA welcomes proposals from presenters eager to share their investigations into the history and architecture of the American roadside with a diverse audience of preservationists, stewards, academics, writers, photographers, and others.

    Individuals are encouraged to submit abstracts on topics exploring North American roadside architecture, with a focus on the Great Lakes area, Mid-Century Modern commercial architecture, and preservation strategies for historic roadside architecture (restaurants, gas stations, motels, etc.) and tourism sites. Any topics related to the 20th century commercial landscape are welcome. Proposals for themed sessions are welcomed. Please follow the two guiding principles in making a presentation at an SCA conference: make it visual and make it fun!

    See details at https://sca-roadside.org/alleghenies-conference/. Abstracts must be received by March 15.

  • 01 Feb 2023 11:59 AM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    Short-term Research Fellowships: Environmental Design Archives, University of California, Berkeley

    The Environmental Design Archives (EDA) is pleased to offer two short-term research fellowships to support scholars conducting interdisciplinary and innovative research on-site at the EDA, located within the College of Environmental Design in Berkeley, California. Applications for these fellowships are due March 1, 2023.

    Applications for these fellowships are due March 1, 2023.

    Committed to raising awareness of the significant architectural and landscape heritage of Northern California and beyond, the Environmental Design Archives collects, preserves, and provides access to primary records of its built environment. Its collections represent more than 200 of the San Francisco Bay Region’s most historically significant architects, landscape architects, and urban planners.

    The two fellowships, the Waverly B. Lowell Fellowship and the Alice Ross Carey Fellowship, will each provide stipends of up to $5,000 to support travel to Berkeley to conduct research using the collections of the Environmental Design Archives. Fellowship recipients are expected to spend significant time researching within the collections. For the EDA’s complete holdings see: https://ced.berkeley.edu/resources/environmental-design-archives/collections

    Fellowship applicants are encouraged to discuss research intent with the EDA curator prior to submission to determine how EDA collections can support research needs. Send a brief project description to edafellowships@berkeley.edu for a consultation.  


    • The Alice Ross Carey Fellowship is open to doctoral students and emerging scholars in any related discipline. Students must be registered in an accredited graduate program and currently engaged in dissertation research. Other applicants may be academic or independent scholars.
    • The Waverly B. Lowell Fellowship is open to mid-career and senior scholars in any related discipline. Applicants may be academic or independent scholars.

    Application Requirements

    1.   The following materials must be received by the deadline (March 1, 2023). Note later date for submission of recommendation letters for the Carey Fellowship.

    a.   An abstract limited to 150 words

    b.   A proposed list of materials to be examined during your fellowship including collection names

    c.   A curriculum vitae (3 pages max)

    d.   For Carey Fellowship only: contact information for two recognized scholars who you will ask to submit letters of recommendation.

    e.   A budget establishing how fellowship funds would be used, including the estimated length of residence in Berkeley.

    f.    A project description (1,200 words max, not including citations) that outlines:

    ·        How your project will advance scholarship in your field and how it is positioned with respect to existing literature

    ·        In what ways the EDA’s collection will support and advance your research project

    ·        A description of your anticipated outcome (e.g. dissertation or book chapter, article, exhibit, performance, etc.).

    2.   For Carey Fellowship only: two letters of recommendation that speak to the impact of your research on your field must be received by March 15, 2023.

    All materials, with the exception of the recommendation letters, should be assembled into a single PDF file and sent to edafellowships@berkeley.edu by 5:00pm PST on March 1, 2023.

    For Carey Fellowship only: Letters of recommendation should be sent directly from the recommender to edafellowships@berkeley.edu with “Recommendation for [your name]” as the subject line by 5:00pm PST on March 15, 2023.

    Applications will be reviewed by a committee of faculty and archivists. Awards will be based on the potential for the proposed research to make significant contributions to scholarship. Successful applications will demonstrate strong familiarity with EDA collections and make a compelling argument for the importance of those collections to the proposed project.

    Applicants will be notified of all decisions by April 20, 2023. Research is expected to be completed no later than August 20, 2024.

    For further information and questions, please contact edafellowships@berkeley.edu or visit https://ced.berkeley.edu/resources/environmental-design-archives/research-fellowships.

  • 01 Feb 2023 10:59 AM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    Please consider submitting your research to Buildings & Landscapes! We are currently seeking manuscripts for our 31.1 issue (Spring 2024), with a requested submission date of scholarly articles, object lessons, viewpoints, and research notes by March 15, 2023. Here is a description of the range of manuscripts we are seeking:

    • Scholarly Articles integrate fieldwork and archival/primary source research into an original argument about the history of everyday buildings and/or landscapes. Approx. 25 pages double spaced (endnotes are additional), with 15-20 images.
    • Object Lessons address how we engage others by highlighting places that have a distinct public history component or preservation or public engagement story. Topics have included a building at Colonial Williamsburg that was recreated as an interpreted craft shop then demolished and rebuilt after new information surfaced; a public artwork erected at a public housing complex in New York City to create a shared, lived environment celebrating Antonio Gramsci and his ideals; and the contested efforts to 3 preserve the Freedom Tower in Miami as a landmark memorializing the Cuban American experience. Approx. 10-20 pages double spaced, with up to 10 images.
    • Viewpoints are geared toward provoking conversation about the interpretation, representation, and preservation of vernacular architecture and cultural landscapes. This series is intended to keep us thinking about why we do what we do. Less than 20 pages double spaced, with up to 10 images.
    • Research Notes are an author’s investigation of an extraordinary primary document(s) or fieldwork example(s) that has potential to add significantly to our field. The Research Notes series is intended to complement the Viewpoint series by helping us think about how we do what we do. Less than 20 pages double spaced, with up to 10 images. 

    Buildings & Landscapes is the leading source for peer-reviewed, scholarly work on the vernacular architecture of North America and beyond.  The journal continues VAF's tradition of scholarly publication going back to the first Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture in 1982.  Published through the University of Minnesota Press since 2007, the journal publishes two issues per year.

    The editors encourage rolling submissions of scholarly articles that integrate fieldwork and archival/primary source research into original arguments about the history of everyday buildings and/or landscapes. The editors particularly welcome submission of articles on topics related to the study of North American vernacular architecture or which otherwise broaden the context of North American architecture and cultural landscapes. Authors are urged to draw linkages between the physical aspects of the built environment they study and the people who create, consume, use, and inhabit it. If an author is unsure about a manuscript’s fit for the journal, they are encouraged to contact the editors in advance of a formal submission: co-editor Michael Chiarappa (mchiarappa2@washcoll.edu) and incoming co-editor Margaret Grubiak (margaret.grubiak@villanova.edu). To find out more about submitting to B&L, please visit the VAF website.

  • 01 Feb 2023 10:58 AM | Michelle Jones (Administrator)

    Richard Brandi has authored a book about San Francisco’s residence parks, Garden Neighborhoods of San Francisco, the Development of Residence Parks 1905-1924, by McFarland Publishing, 2021.

    The book discusses the development of 36 “residence parks” that were launched between 1905 and 1924 with picturesque streets, landscaping, detached houses, and setbacks to convey the feeling of living in a park. Only a few are well known such as St. Francis Wood (laid out by the Olmsted Brothers). The book looks at the developers’ motivations, goals, marketing approaches and how they adapted to war, recession, and inflation.  Residence parks were “restricted” meaning they limited how owners could use their land to maintain the park-like feeling while also excluding blacks and Asians. In this regard they were not unique to San Francisco, the rest of California, and much of the nation. 

    There were three types of developers: professionals who used engineers and architects to design streets, setbacks, entry gates, landscaping, fountains, and custom houses. Family-run developers did the work themselves and tried to imitate the professionals with varying degrees of success. Amateur developers, including a sewing machine salesman, cattle rancher, and haberdasher, tried their hand but usually sold out to others. Nonetheless, the overall result is one of many distinctive neighborhoods containing about 7,500 houses designed by dozens of architects in period revival styles that stand out from the typical pattern in San Francisco.

    Richard Walker, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley reviewed a draft and said “This is a most impressive project and quite unprecedented in the detailed treatment of developers and developments for any U.S. city.  I’ve seen books on one or two subdivisions or suburbs, but few things as comprehensive about the city-building process in one era.  So congratulations on that.  It will be a real contribution to both Bay Area history and urban studies.”

    Richard Longsterth, Professor, George Washington University also reviewed a draft and said “It abounds with fresh and interesting material, and it represents a new way of looking at 20th century residential development in the U.S. city. Your approach could become essential reading for students of the 20th century city. The residential parks that are your focus are not suburbs in the ways such places are normally considered, and they are not the standard, scattered, small-scale speculative enterprises that merge into the grid. They are something in between and, for San Francisco, at least, comprise a very substantial component of the city’s residential fabric.”

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