Center Projects & Events

The University of Mary Washington Center for Historic Preservation engages UMW Historic Preservation students and the preservation community in a number of ways.  Below is a selection of the Center’s current and past projects, events, and initiatives.

Cultural Landscapes Inventory Summer Field School – Prince William Forest Park (NPS)

Funding: $98,000

During the summers of 2019 and 2020 University of Mary Washington Historic Preservation and GIS students worked with Professor Michael Spencer and National Park Service personnel at Prince William Forest Park to conduct a series of cultural landscape inventories for the parks C.C.C. era cabin camps. During this time students honed their research and documentation skills as well as learned new methods associated with the interpretation of large scale landscapes. These new methods included learning how to use GPS in conjunction with cultural landscape survey methods defined by the National Park Service.

University of Mary Washington students learn how to use the new Trimble GPS device at Prince William Forest Park.

Mortar Re-pointing Workshop at the Mary Washington House

During the spring of 2020 the University of Mary Washington, Center for Historic Preservation partnered with the Washington Heritage Museums, Historic Fredericksburg Foundation Inc., Kjellstrom & Lee, and Dominion Traditional Building Group to conduct a mortar re-pointing workshop. The objective of the workshop was to provide students as well as community members with a free, hands-on opportunity to learn traditional lime re-pointing methods. At the same time the workshop would address needed Portland cement remediation on the rear (west elevation) of the historic Mary Washington House. Due to the scale of the project the number of participants were limited but included three UMW students and three community members.

UMW students and community members work side by side to re-point damaged sections of the Mary Washington House.

Dendrochronology Study at the Mary Washington House

Simply put, dendrochronology is an accepted method of dating historic buildings using tree rings. While there is lots of science and database creation behind this process, UMW students were just exposed to the basics during a fall 2018 study of the Mary Washington House done by Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory. This study was funded in part by the Center for Historic Preservation as well as the Stuart Jones Charitable Trust. Ultimately the south wing of the Mary Washington House, where Mary lived, was dated to 1759, indicating that it was built by none other than Fielding Lewis!

Students look on as Mike Cuba extracts a core sample from white oak puncheon joists at the Mary Washington House.

Reconstructive and Experimental Archaeology Conference (REARC)

The Center for Historic Preservation helped support the Reconstructive and Experimental Archaeology Conference during the start of the fall 2019 semester. This conference provided UMW students an opportunity to try their hand at using some of the historic techniques used to manufacture items which they not only study but might one day excavate. Such experiences offer additional insight and allow for a deeper understanding of cultural artifacts.

UMW student assists in one of the demonstrations taking place during the conference.

Permanent Museum Exhibition “For the People Had a Mind to Work”: A Century of African American Education in Spotsylvania County  – John J. Wright Education and Cultural Center, Spotsylvania, Virginia

Funding: $3,000

The Center for Historic Preservation serves as a grantee in applications for external funding that support student-faculty projects. A $3,000 grant from Virginia Humanities made possible the completion of a new permanent exhibition at John J. Wright Museum in Spotsylvania. 250 sq.ft. of new museum displays were planned and installed by Professor Cristina Turdean and the students enrolled in her Museum Exhibitions course in Spring 2019.

In the Museum Exhibitions course, students develop an exhibition from the research phase to its actual installation in the space of the partnering museum.

Lecture “Ordinary Treasures: The Material Culture of the Enslaved” (February 2020)

Some of our lectures are organized in partnership with local museums and historic preservation organizations. Scholar Marta Katz-Hyman presented her research on the material culture of enslaved people at the invitation of the Center for Historic Preservation and James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library. The subject of this talk supported the research interest that our students and faculty have in the subject of diversity in historic preservation.

Martha Katz-Hyman

Lecture “Virginia Tribes and the Challenges of Smithsonian Repatriation Efforts” (November 2019)

In support of the Native American Heritage Month, which is observed every year in November,  Dr. Dorothy Lippert, Tribal Liaison with the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History, lectured on the challenges of repatriation of Native American artifacts in the museum’s collections.  Several representatives of the Patawomeck Indian Tribe of Virginia were in the audience.

Dr. Dorothy Lippert

Workshop “Introduction to historical surveys and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources standards” (October 2019)

The mission of the Center for Historic Preservation is to link the resources of our department with those of the preservation community at local, regional, and national level. For several years, Professor Spencer has been assisting the College Heights Civil Association in Fredericksburg with information on preserving the character and physical integrity of their neighborhood. In two recent workshops, College Height residents learned about historical surveys and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources standards.

Members of the College Heights Association during the Q&A session with Prof. Spencer.

Grad School Fair (November 2019)

Every fall, as some of our majors prepare to apply for admission in grad school, the Center for Historic Preservation organizes a grad school fair, whose panelists are recent alumni of our program. They hold graduate degrees in historic preservation disciplines (i.e. urban planning, museum studies, anthropology/archaeology, historic preservation) and are employed in the field. The fair has an informal format, with current students asking questions on topics ranging from preparing for the GRE test and selecting a graduate program to financing studies and employment prospects.

The 2019 Grad School Fair panelists represented our 2014-1016 classes.

2019 Book Prize Lecture “The Monumental Challenge of Preservation: The Past in a Volatile World” (September 2019)

Every year since 1988, the Center for Historic Preservation has been conferring the Historic Preservation Book Prize to the book with the most potential for positively impacting the discipline of historic preservation in the United States. As the 2019 winner of the Book Prize, Dr. Michele Valerie Cloonan, Dean Emerita and Professor of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College, gave a talk on her book The Monumental Challenge of Preservation. The Past in a Volatile World published by The MIT Press.

Dr. Michelle Cloonan and HISP majors at the end of the talk.

Past Grants
Project: Processing of 2018 Survey of Nomini Plantation
Grantor: 2019 Threatened Sites Grant, Virginia Department of Historic Resources
Amount:$1,604.02
Grantee: Prof. Lauren McMillan

Project: Archaeological Field School 2018
Grantor: sub-award from St. Mary’s College of Maryland: “Rappahannock Indigenous Cultural Landscape Survey.”
Amount:$2,630.90
Grantee: Prof. Lauren McMillan

Project: Analysis of the Nomini Plantation (44WM0012) Archaeological Collection
Grantor: 2017 Threatened Sites Grant, Virginia Department of Historic Resources
Amount: $4,999.23
Grantee: Prof. Lauren McMillan

Past Events

Alumni Talks, Danny Messplay (September 2019)

Student Choice Lecture: Kate Wagner (April 2019): McMansion Hell

Career Fair (March 2019)

Caitlin DeSilvey (February 2019) – winner of the Book Prize 2018: Curated Decay: Heritage Beyond Saving

David Givens (February 2019): The Angela Site: An Archaeological Study of Race, Inequality, and Community in Early Jamestown

Julia King (September 2018): Researching Rappahannock Indian History: Archaeologists and Tribal Members Working TogetherCollege Heights Neighborhood

Tax Credit Workshop (November 2018)

Grad School Fair (November 2018)