Field School in American Vernacular Architecture

Field School in American Vernacular Architecture
University of Wisconsin-Madison & Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures Program
(UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee)

Art History 600 – Summer 2010 (June 14 – July 9)

This course gives students an immersion experience in the field recording of
historic buildings and an opportunity to learn how to write history
literally “from the ground up.” Students will receive training in site
documentation (including photographs and measured drawings) and primary
source research. They will create site reports on historic buildings that
will become part of the historical record of southwestern Wisconsin. This
research will also be put towards a conference to be held in the region in
2012, hosting national members of the VAF (Vernacular Architecture Forum).

This summer, our focus will be on the cultural landscape of Mineral Point,
in rural southwestern Wisconsin’s Iowa County. Originally settled in the
late 1830s and early 1840s by Cornish miners, Mineral Point became a
regional economic center in the mid-nineteenth century. Miners of other
ethnic groups joined the Cornish, building houses and other structures using
a variety of materials and technologies. The elegant stone houses of the
Cornish have received some previous attention (a few 1930s HABS drawings),
but the rest of the town has not been extensively documented. We will indeed
examine some of these Cornish stone houses, but our goal is to look more
broadly at Mineral Point’s mid-nineteenth-century housing stock, which also
includes timber-frame structures and log houses (some built by other ethnic
groups, including Germans). The focus will be on mid-nineteenth century
housing, but the field school will also explore Mineral Point’s well
preserved Main Street (the first  National Register district in Wisconsin). The class will work in partnership with the Mineral Point Historical Society to document the town’s
valuable historic resources to be catalogued in the Society’s collections
and ultimately made available to the public through the University of
Wisconsin’s Digital Collections.

The hands-on workshop format includes an initial week in Madison working on
background research and introducing recording techniques. The second week
will be spent in Mineral Point and the surrounding region, gathering data in
the field (with the assistance of Prof. Thomas Carter from the University of
Utah School of Architecture). The third and final weeks will be based in
Madison, and focused on consolidating and interpreting the data gathered in
the field. Group travel, documentary equipment and some supplies will be
provided, but students must be able to fund their own meals and modest
lodging accommodations while in the field. Some expenses for this course
have been offset courtesy of the Chipstone Foundation of Milwaukee,
Wisconsin. Additionally, UW-Madison will allow students from outside the
University to register under special status.

For more information, please contact Prof. Anna Andrzejewski:

Anna Vemer Andrzejewski
Associate Professor
Co-Coordinator, Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures Companion Program
Department of Art History
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Elvehjem Building, Rm. 210
800 University Avenue
Madison, WI  53706
(608) 262-9183