Meet Board Member and VAF Treasurer Claudia Brown

31 Oct 2019 3:20 AM | Christine R Henry

Having spent 30 years with North Carolina’s State Historic Preservation Office (HPO), 23 of them as supervisor of the Architectural Survey and National Register Branch, I retired from state government last December. Before becoming a bureaucrat, I spent a decade as an independent consultant writing National Register nominations for properties across North Carolina and conducting architectural surveys of the city of Durham, extremely rural Hyde County on the coast, and the mountain resort of Linville, among other places. I earned a B.A. in Spanish from Wake Forest University, an M.A. in art history from the University of North Carolina, and completed my Ph.D. coursework at UNC before deciding that I wasn’t cut out for academia. As a consultant I became very interested in 19th and early 20th century industrial architecture, and Rosenwald schools were a special interest for 19 of my years at the HPO.

Upon retiring, I was looking forward to devoting much of my newly found free time to volunteer service, continuing to serve on the board of the ca. 1770 Joel Lane Museum House (a gambrel-roofed building that is the oldest extant house in Raleigh) as past president and now assistant treasurer, and this summer joining the board of Haywood Hall, a Georgian-style house built ca. 1800 also in Raleigh. In mid-October, I’ll return to the HPO on a part-time basis to help review National Register nominations and survey products. I’m also in my sixteenth year as a guardian ad litem advocating for children in foster care.

Just a few years into my career, I was introduced to the Vernacular Architecture Forum by Catherine Bishir (VAF past president and 2016 Glassie Award winner), whom I’d gotten to know as a consultant and who had become my mentor and friend. My first VAF conference was the organization’s third, held in Winston-Salem in 1982, and since then I’ve attended many of the annual meetings. For a couple of years in the 1990s I was the VAF’s preservation officer and I was co-coordinator with colleague Marvin Brown of the conference held in Durham, NC, in 2016. Despite having retired, I wanted to remain an active member of the VAF and thus was pleased to be nominated as the organization’s treasurer. Some of the position’s duties are familiar, while others, such as using QuickBooks, are new and challenging, but with immediate past treasurer Lisa Davidson’s guidance, I’m getting my sea legs under me.

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