Recent Projects

Booker T. Washington National Monument, Tobacco Barn Documentation and Material Integrity Assessment

Funding: $14,924

Begun during the summer of 2021, the documentation and integrity assessment of the Booker T. Washington National Monument Tobacco Barn concluded at the end of the spring 2022 semester. During the project Historic Preservation student Hannah St. Onge assisted Professor Michael Spencer in producing measured drawings of the barn. These measured drawings were then used, in conjunction with archival research and physical investigations, to convey material integrity as well as condition in preparation for repair work scheduled for the summer of 2022.

The line drawing of the primary elevation of the tobacco barn was created by Hannah St. Onge with annotations regarding material integrity made by Professor Michael Spencer.

2022 Cemetery Conservation and Restoration Workshop

Planned in partnership with the Fredericksburg City Cemetery, this event continued to build upon previous workshops. Students and local residents attended classroom lectures and hands-on sessions conducted by Robert Mosko, founder and owner of Mosko Cemetery Monument Services, which specializes in preserving, conserving, restoring and rehabilitating historical cemeteries and monuments. 

A UMW Historic Preservation student works to reset a tombstone at the Fredericksburg City Cemetery.

Mortar Re-pointing Workshop at the Mary Washington House

During the spring of 2022 the University of Mary Washington, Center for Historic Preservation partnered with the Washington Heritage Museums and Dominion Traditional Building Group to one again conduct a mortar re-pointing workshop. The objective of the workshop was to provide Historic Preservation students 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.

UMW Historic Preservation students repair the rear porch wall of the Mary Washington House using lime mortar.

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.

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.