VAF VIRTUAL CONFERENCE
PAPER SESSION SCHEDULE AND PROPOSALS
MAY 9, 2020
SESSIONS 1-3: Starting 10:00 am
1 - Building and Technology
Chair: Fred Quivik
"The Air Underground: The Confined Landscapes of Mining and the Development of Air-conditioning Standards, 1900-1930"
Betsy Frederick-Rothwell, The University of Texas at Austin
To fully understand the social, political, and economic valences of modern “air conditioning,” this spatial practice must be understood as a body technology as well as a building technology. In this paper, I contend that this technology’s form cannot be read separately from ideas about laboring bodies constructed in classical liberal economic models and modes of production. However, a critical site in the formation of these discourses has long been left at the periphery: the underground landscape of mining in Britain and the United States. In repositioning these out-of-plain-sight spaces—and the conflicts over health and labor intensity associated with them—as central to the history of air conditioning, it becomes clear that this technology, now a nearly inescapably part of everyday experience, is more than simply a matter of “comfort.”
Although the health effects of air in underground mines had long occupied physicians, miners, and mine owners, in the nineteenth century they became a particular interest of governmental bodies, which now saw growing mortality rates among miners as “a wasteful expenditure of human life.” Yet disputes remained over what dimension of air caused these ill effects. In addressing this debate, medical scientists aimed to replicate underground conditions in purpose-built air chambers, and in the early the twentieth century, they partnered with specialized heating and ventilating engineers to transform these chambers into technologically controlled experimental environments. In these spaces now far removed from the underground world, scientists shifted the conversation from the fatal diseases linked with contamination to the loss of worker efficiency linked with heat and humidity.
It was as part of one such air chamber study sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Mines and U.S. Public Health Service that engineers such as Willis Carrier, founder of Carrier Air-Conditioning Corporation, claimed to have determined the “comfort zone” that underlies nearly all present-day air conditioning practice. This engineering narrative has since defined the story of air conditioning—indeed it is the one most frequently repeated in the popular press—but this paper, in following scientific and medical narratives more closely, reveals additional complexities and contingencies that informed the technology’s material manifestation. By excavating deeper into the issues at stake in underground mines and the scientific practices that grew up around it, this paper unpacks the paradoxes implicit in the technological paths chosen not only by engineers but also by medical experts, reformers, and employers.
"From the Ground Up: Rise of Aerial Infrastructure and the Transformation of Quito's Landscape, 1920s-1930s"
Ernesto Bilbao, The University of Texas at Austin
Quito, Ecuador's first aerial infrastructure, known as Campo de Aviación, built between 1920 until the 1930s, allows unveiling the effects that air travel provoked on the city's cultural landscape (Fig. 1). The design and construction of this rustic and ordinary-looking infrastructure catapulted transformation processes on the ground and immediately embedded Quito into broader global dynamics. Around Campo de Aviación, infrastructure of all kinds such as hangars, storage facilities, roads, and new urbanization soon emerged around its zone of influence. Quito's particular circumstances of geographical obstacles where transportation means were scarce, and its post-colonial societal structure make Quito an exceptional case study to understanding the effects of aerial development, at least in the Andean region of South America. Quito's inclusion into worldwide aerial networks started at the end of World War I when Europe and the United States found themselves with an oversupply of aeronautical facilities that rapidly fostered aircraft operations and incorporated other regions like Latin America. The same aviation development also served as material history for the representation and theorization of airport infrastructure. In 1947, for example, Le Corbusier depicted the American continent to show the emergence of an Urbanisme et aéronautique composed of new aerial routes surpassing geographical barriers of mountains and seas. Even more recently, in 2000, John Kasarda predicted a new type of population center entirely planned and dependent on the airport and air travel's speed named Aerotr0polis. In both cases, air transportation reveals changes in regional systems and the acceleration of globalization processes since the mid-twentieth century until the present time; aspects that were already present nearly twenty years before since the airplane connected Latin-American cities regardless of geography, culture, and economy. Different than cities in Europe and the United States who understood how to deal with aircraft facilities as great opportunities for urban development, Latin-American counterparts were, however, unaware of aviation's future impact on their territory. In that sense, by contrasting Le Corbusier and Kasarda's observations with the origins of aerial development in Quito, this paper aims to demonstrate that although air transport brought immense benefits, urban centers in Latin America found themselves unprepared technically, financially, and socially to undertake the pioneering stages of aviation development. This paper builds on specific critical state and non-state participants' documents and agendas, both local and international, that help to call attention to the aspects behind Quito's first airfield. While scholars have begun to draw attention to the development and expansion of aviation technologies, the architecture, and spaces of the airport in Latin America, and their related context, have yet to be examined.
"Corner Post Construction: North American Adaptation of an Ethnic Building Tradition"
Maire O’Neill Conrad, Montana State University, Bozeman
Corner post construction, perhaps better known as pièce sur pièce construction is a form of timber frame using square, sawn posts, with hewn horizontal logs infilled between posts. It was a durable form of construction on the North American frontier, made possible with a few hand tools, and didn’t require the level of skill necessary for heavy timber framing. Although it appeared in various forms at numerous locations in Europe for centuries, on the North American continent it is believed to have arrived with French settlers in the 16th century in the region that is now Quebec. Variants of the method spread westward across the North American continent with the construction of fur trading posts. During the earliest westward settlement, where travel was arduous and transportation of tools was limited, corner post construction was easily built with plentiful, locally available materials used in short, modular segments. It took root among the Metis of the Red River Settlement in Manitoba, and is often referred to as the Red River Frame. The North American fur trade may have first institutionalized this construction method, as it proved a good fit for the widespread construction of large two-story structures and fortified posts.
The method diffused southward into the states and territories by multiple routes that are not well- documented, and was adopted by the U.S. military for the construction of western military outposts. In Montana, a few miles from the former site of Fort Ellis (1867-1886), extant buildings offer evidence of a highly speculative adaptation of this construction type at the end of the nineteenth century. This paper proposes to explore connections between a distinctive variant of corner post construction in three proximate buildings: A demonstration building promoted by the local Agricultural Experiment Station, a two story horse barn built by a settler from the Red River region, and a massive show barn built by a very successful rancher, the son of a French immigrant.
The author will develop an analysis from measured drawings, prior historic documentation of the two extant barns, and by tracing the biographies of those connected with their construction. The experiment station’s demonstration building, no longer extant, can be closely examined in large plate negatives and published descriptions. The construction of all three buildings reflects an economy of means, similar to the buildings early French-Canadian settlers, but I speculate that the motivations for this economy varied dramatically.
2 - Spatial Segregation and Social Power
Chair: Christine O’Malley
"From Harlem to Hinterland: The Hebrew Home for the Aged and the Evolution of Congregate Senior Housing, 1917-1967"
Willa Granger, University of Texas at Austin
On April 17th, 1951, thirty-nine residents of the Hebrew Home for the Aged of Harlem boarded buses and ambulances parked before their former residence, a series of interconnected brownstones. Located on East 105th Street, the facility sat adjacent to the Beth Hamidrash Hagodol synagogue. Photographs document the residents’ departure and arrival at their new address, a former orphanage located on a bucolic property beside the Hudson River; the home’s Torah scrolls, once housed beneath tin-pressed ceilings, were likewise conveyed to the Riverdale property in the arms of board members. An architect had already been commissioned to renovate the orphanage’s interiors, an undertaking that had never occurred at the original rowhomes. Less than a decade later a new infirmary was built, while by 1967 a Brutalist medical pavilion was completed. Today the home’s footprint has expanded nearly tenfold. Taking the Hebrew Home as a case-study, this paper argues how the American “home for the aged” shifted from one building culture to another, moving from a grass-roots, ordinary, and repurposed mode to an increasingly systematized, architecturalized, and medicalized approach. Where senior living was once conducted within the intimacy of a given religious, ethnic, fraternal, or labor community, by mid-century it had grown in both scale and complexity. This shift tracks onto the “discovery” of older adults across regulatory, medical, social, and architectural discourse, but likewise dovetails with the professionalization and atomization of the downtown civic associationism undergirding senior care since the Civil War. Using Erving Goffman’s 1961 conceptualization of the “Total Institution,” I analyze how the increasing oversight of old age impacted the spatial and material practices of the Hebrew Home during its first fifty years (1917-1967), and in turn reified the “institutional” aspects of a facility that still endeavours to provide a “home-like” setting to residents today. To achieve this I deploy the archival methodologies of both architectural and social historians to understand not only the physical structures and spaces of eldercare (photographs, building plans), but likewise the community serving and served by the Hebrew Home (annual reports, board minutes, letters, census data). This work also calls up vernacular field methods to chart additions, alterations, and levels of upkeep across the Hebrew Home’s campus, as well as oral history with staff members to understand the evolution of the property over time.
"The Architecture of the Dinner Plate: Material Culture and Architectural Inspiration in Indiana 1820-1860"
Benjamin L. Ross, RATIO Architects
The use of imported sources of architectural inspiration—builder’s guides, pattern books, and periodicals—has been well-documented in mid-nineteenth century Indiana. These publications catered to builders and sophisticated property owners and often produced identifiable buildings, but they were not the only sources of architectural imagery in the region during this period. Transfer- printed ceramics, produced mainly in Staffordshire, England, brought architectural images into the daily eating and washing routines of mid-nineteenth century Hoosiers of all ages and genders in most occupations and levels of society. Although they lacked the written commentary provided in the publications of architects and tastemakers, these detailed engravings conveyed a range of Romantic architectural expressions and landscape styles paralleling those seen in pattern books and magazines.
While much has been written about nineteenth-century transferware by archaeologists and collectors, the content and influence of these vessels’ architectural imagery has seen little scholarly examination. Using archaeological reports and museum collections documenting transferware pieces present in Indiana between 1820 and 1860, this paper will examine the range of architectural expressions depicted, comparing the imagery with that of contemporary architectural publications. Drawing from period sources and current scholarship, the paper will develop conclusions on the relation of these architectural images to the context in which the ceramics were used and their potential effect in framing mid-nineteenth century Hoosiers’ ideas about architecture.
" ’Cemetery to Cemetery’: Segregation and Tradition in the Forney, Texas Landscape"
Diane Jones Allen, University of Texas, Arlington & Kathryn Holliday, University of Texas, Arlington
Forney, Texas is a former railroad and cotton town about 20 miles east of Dallas that is increasingly engulfed in suburban sprawl. At Forney's core are two streets, Main and Broad, that defined the city's commercial heart in the 1880s and established continuing patterns of settlement. At the north end of Broad, along the railroad tracks, the Hillcrest Cemetery has provided a resting ground for Forney's white residents since the 1840s and at the south end, the Prairie View Cemetery has memorialized the African American community since the 1880s.
Both cemeteries are still in active use, continuing these longstanding patterns of segregation. Our project focuses on these historic patterns of segregation and development that allowed the Prairie View Cemetery to survive but also suffer from neglect. While Hillcrest is governed by an active cemetery association, is well-maintained, and filled with monumental grave markers, the Prairie View Cemetery is maintained by a single caretaker who holds knowledge of burial patterns through oral history. Many grave markers are missing or damaged and subsidence, overgrown vegetation, and incursions by railroad maintenance equipment challenge its survival.
Forney's economic development corporation (EDC) uses the phrase "Cemetery to Cemetery" to describe its focus on the historic core. Forney is unusual because of the presence of the Spellman Museum, a local history museum funded by a private endowment that provides a centralized authority for storytelling about the town's history. Both the museum and EDC are exploring ways to tell that history in more complete ways. As Forney attempts to reconcile its history with contemporary efforts to create an inclusive community, outcomes for the Prairie View Cemetery will be central to its success.
This project uses field surveys and oral histories to document contemporary families' use of the cemetery and its meaning to the African American community through workshops and a community exhibit to be held in partnership with the Spellman Museum in late spring 2020. We are also documenting folk traditions in the cemetery that incorporate concrete and mirrors in more contemporary burial markers. A key outcome will be a cemetery management plan that proposes interpretive materials for the cemetery and that balances family customs with maintenance needs. This case study is potentially useful for other small towns and cemeteries in Dallas-Fort Worth that are increasingly drawn into the metropolitan landscapes of larger cities that create both development pressure on the landscape and pressure to sterilize and suppress their history of segregation. By actively engaging with families, community members, and business leaders, the workshops, exhibit, and management plan can provide a template for storytelling and preservation.
3 - Social Production of Residential Space
Chair: Betsy Cromley
"The Revolutionary Kitchen: Venezuelan Domestic Architecture in an Era of Conflict"
Valentina Davila, McGill University
Typically, in Venezuela, middle and upper-middle-class houses is divided into public, private and service areas. In the living rooms, lush plants, elegantly upholstered furniture, family portraits and elegant religious art welcome guests on quiet Sunday afternoons. At the heart of the house, are the private areas where everyday life unfolds. The family sits in comfortable leather sofas watching a movie on a large tv while babies sleep in pink or blue nurseries. Inside formal study rooms, older kids do their homework surrounded by massive, custom made bookcases holding outdated encyclopedias. Lastly, on the opposite side of the building, unequivocally located at the back of the house, is the service area. This part of the house exists within the perimeter of the building but in a contradictory material and social dimension.
The laundry area, back patio and servants’ quarters are traditionally designed and built with a pauper mentality, deemed not worthy of the same materiality than the rest of the building. It is as if these environments were designed to avoid the corruption of the workers' character, to ward off inclusion. The kitchen, however, is a complex space as food preparation intertwines labour and love, nourishment and servitude, femininity and power. Literature registers the confined space of the kitchen as belonging to the servants, an area where architecture powerfully intervenes to overturn social roles. The walls of the kitchen act as a kind of social vacuum where deferential behaviour is blurred as workers are expected to sit and even remain seated if the employer enters the room. For decades, middle-class Venezuelans and Latin Americans have designed their kitchens as a servant space so much that the materials used are of lesser quality, and labour-saving appliances such as dishwashers are rarely installed. Kitchens can be taken as historical evidence of the Venezuelan middle-class race and class ideals. This presentation seeks to study the material culture of the Venezuelan middle-class home to demonstrate that the kitchen was always considered—and consequently designed and built as—a “servant space.” If domestic architecture has been used as a tool of segregation, did it exacerbate the class and race conflict that ignited Chavez’s 21st -century revolution? Is the kitchen’s material culture somewhat responsible for one of the most massive humanitarian crises in Latin American history?
"'Neat and Clean and Happy Looking Little Homes': Martha Bayard Stevens Model Workers Housing in Hoboken"
Samuel A. Pickard & Emily Paulus Everett, AECOM
The City of Hoboken, New Jersey was founded and heavily influenced by the affluent Stevens family, which exercised a prominent and at times dominant paternalistic influence on the port city well into the 20th century through their Hoboken Land & Improvement Company. Between 1875 and 1885, Martha Bayard Stevens, philanthropist and influential matriarch of the Stevens family, used her position to develop a model housing community within the center of the city near the free church she had established for working-class residents. Known as the Odenheimer House model tenement and Willow Terrace model housing development, they represent a lesser-known but significant ensemble that embody Stevens’ notions of religious and social reform.
The first of Stevens’ efforts was the circa 1875 Odenheimer House model tenement building. Long one of the largest tenement buildings in Hoboken, contemporaneous reports suggest that it represents an interpretation of pre-Civil War model tenement designs and a conscious effort by Stevens to provide adequate, hygienic housing for members of the city’s working-class populace.
In 1885 Stevens undertook the construction of an ambitious 80-unit model housing development known as Willow Terrace. Situated on the same city block as the Odenheimer House—Willow Terrace’s two-and-one-half-story model workingmen’s homes are arranged in five rows of 16 houses along two private streets. With low-pitched gable roofs, shared dormers, and two-bay wide, flat-front red brick facades with minimal setbacks, the architecture and spatial planning likely reflects the influence of 19th century terraced housing in Britain.
The authors documented and analyzed Steven’s model housing complex during the course of one of the largest historic architectural surveys undertaken in New Jersey in recent years. This paper will examine the historical development of Willow Terrace, including the ideals it aspired to and the ways in which its physical and architectural characteristics both emulate and deviate from other model housing developments of this era. Comparisons with other women housing reformers, including the contemporary Octavia Hill in the United Kingdom and the later Octavia Hill Association in Philadelphia will be made in an effort to better understand Stevens’ influences and place her within the context of other early American housing reformers of the time.
Additionally, while the proposed construction of further units by Stevens and the HL&IC was never undertaken, the paper will examine what further influence the Odenheimer House and Willow Terrace may have had on the built environment of Hoboken during the ensuing decades
"The Role of Slave-made Savannah Grey Bricks in the Construction of a Plantation Ideal in 20th-Century White Suburbs"
Robin B. Williams, Savannah College of Art & Design
The Hermitage Plantation and the slave-made Savannah Grey bricks that had been produce there in the many millions before the Civil War captivated white builders and home owners eager to evoke the ante-bellum Old South beginning in the 1930s. Before its destruction in 1935 to make way for a pulp and paper mill, the decaying Hermitage Plantation was a popular tourist destination and spawned at least one replica of the main house erected in 1933 in Savannah’s Ardsley Park, an early 20th-century automobile suburb. Despite eleventh-hour calls for the plantation’s preservation from Harold Ickes, Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Interior, automaker Henry Ford was allowed to purchase the Hermitage “big house” and all of the surviving slave dwellings for their Savannah Grey bricks. Valued for their distinctive handmade character, these large, brownish, irregular and porous bricks used in many of Savannah’s historic structures, became a popular form of architectural spolia for reuse in suburbia. Ford utilized the bricks for his newly built Southern winter home near Savannah, Richmond Plantation, that resembled the original plantation house, but in enlarged form. He also salvaged two of the original brick slave dwellings for display at his open-air architecture museum, Greenfield Village, in Dearborn, Michigan. An article profiling the Hermitage published in The Atlanta Constitution a month after its March 1935 sale gives insight into its symbolic resonance. It saw the plantation as “one of the few remaining landmarks of the era of romance and chivalry that preceded the Civil War” and looked forward to how “it will be restored to its former glory” by Ford. Such associations, combined with a desire for “country” living, likely account for the popularity of Savannah Grey bricks salvaged from demolished downtown buildings. In the city’s post-World War II white-only residential subdivisions developed just outside the city limits, Savannah Greys and their picturesque residue of lime mortar served as an immediately identifiable facing material for both traditional plantation style and modernist houses alike, as well as for the subdivision entry gates. Yet nowhere was the enslaved African authorship of these bricks acknowledged, the bricks being symbols of an Old South imaginary for white suburbanites.
POSTER SESSIONS: 12:00-1:00 pm
"'The Wrapper Must Have Style' : Shade Tobacco Tents of the Connecticut River Valley, 1899-1959"
Tom Anderson-Monterosso, University of Vermont
This study examines the development of shade tobacco tents in the southern Connecticut River Valley of New England. While cigar tobacco curing sheds have received more attention, their associated tent systems once shaded vast acreage with profound regional landscape effects. This study uncovers the political, economic, geographic, biological, ecological, social, and physical forces that influenced their design and dispersal, starting from precedents in Sumatra and Florida. Evidence has been collected from state and federal reports, industry periodicals, newspapers, and scientific literature. This study challenges the common understanding that the first New England shade tobacco experiment occurred in 1900, identifying an inconclusive trial the year prior. After a major false start, the industry took hold by 1910. Shade design transitioned from wooden slats through increasingly specialized forms of cheesecloth and finally synthetics. The material and spacing of the wires and upright posts underwent similar processes of optimization, plus adaptation to the loss of the American chestnut. As an extremely capital-intensive agriculture, shade growing shifted farming and land ownership toward corporations. Scientists continually sought to understand what exactly shade tents did to the growing environment and how they affected the crop, ultimately acknowledging the serendipity in the design’s fit to its purpose.
“Investigating Vernacular Design at the Treviño-Uribe Rancho Complex in San Ygnacio, Texas”
Kevin T. Glowacki, Texas A&M University, Andrew J. Billingsley, Texas A&M University, Benjamin Baaske, Texas A&M University, Frank Briscoe, Briscoe Architectural Conservation, Robert Warden, Texas A&M University, Lonnie Champagne, Independent Scholar
The Jesus Treviño-Blas Maria Uribe Rancho in San Ygnacio, Texas, is an important example of a fortified home from the Spanish Colonial and Mexican periods of settlement along the Rio Grande River. Originally constructed in 1830 as a one-room structure, the building was later transformed (1851–1871) into a multi-roomed complex that served both as a family home and as a place of refuge for the surrounding community. Employing largely local material in its construction, the complex attests to vernacular architectural techniques of the region as well as many cultural, economic, and political developments of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The building was documented by the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) in 1936 and was later designated a Texas Historic Landmark in 1964 and a National Historic Landmark in 1998. In 2017, an architectural survey utilizing terrestrial laser scanning was conducted by a team from Texas A&M University. The data collected allow for comparisons with the hand-measured drawings from the HABS documentation of the 1930s in terms of accuracy, precision, graphic standards, and interpretive purposes. This poster explores ways in which the data can be analyzed and visualized as complementary forms of documentation to shed new light vernacular design.
“The Domino Effect of a Lost Vernacular Tradition”
Sandra M. Hernandez, Texas A&M University
Guatemalan society is highlighted by its cultural, and extensive Mayan linguistic diversity. While Spanish customs dominated modern Guatemala, Ancient Mayan genetic lines are still present in the different ethnic groups. Similar to their ancestors, those groups who all together form the 43% of the Guatemalan population, they communicate in their own language, live in villages, and embrace the idea of natural-simple living. Most of it embedded in the Mayan heritage, climatic conditions, and the available materials throughout the country. Unfortunately, the existing inequality in the Guatemalan social structure and the long history of earthquakes relates those living arrangements to community segregation, poverty, and subordination. As a consequence, new generations avoid possible discrimination by substitute their traditional architecture for foreign building technology. In this process of abandoned, a domino effect occurs once the typical design patterns, the activities related to the dwelling distribution, and local materials are lost. But most importantly, the Mayan cultural identity is lost. This poster aims to identify the typical construction elements and materials, design space distribution, and constructive methods, frequently found in vernacular Guatemala house. This analysis is in support of subsequent studies in regional Guatemalan architecture.
“Evaluating Bridges and Water Control Structures”
Maureen McCoy & Alex Tarantino, Delaware Department of Transportation
Bridges that incorporate water control structures serve a dual purpose. They provide access at critical crossing areas while ensuring that the road is protected from flooding through the incorporation of devices like flood gates. In the early twentieth century, combination bridge and water control structures were frequently constructed throughout southern Delaware by the State Highway Department to maintain and protect bridges and roadways. As the state faces issues of aging bridges and failing gates, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) has been working to maintain these bridges and continue to control the channels and ponds they span. An evaluation of these vernacular structures, many of which incorporate common bridge types, requires attention to the character-defining features that convey their dual purposes. Do these resources represent a unique type of structure? How can we assess the effects of proposed projects that may alter their character-defining features, such as the replacement of gates? This poster will present several examples of this bridge type that have been recently evaluated in Delaware, and will address some of the issues DelDOT faces in evaluating and maintaining these structures.
“Homesteading in Cebolla Canyon: Exploring the Reasons Behind Architectural Variation”
Laura Burghardt Tenen, Harris Environmental Group
The vernacular buildings of American homesteads were created by individuals who were predominantly untrained in architectural design and construction. Upon arrival in a new place, homesteaders made decisions about building construction to meet their needs, while taking into consideration their new ecosystem and its available resources. Much of the knowledge used in construction and design came from their previous life experience. As a result, homestead buildings varied widely in materials, construction methods, and styles. The goal of this study was to test the hypothesis that homesteaders’ cultural backgrounds were significant in their architectural decisions. Three late nineteenth and early twentieth century homesteads in Cebolla Canyon, New Mexico, were selected for study, due to their unique architectural construction and close proximity, both geographically and temporally. The individuals who constructed these homesteads came from diverse locations with disparate occupations, family statuses, ethnicities, and life stories. Research methods included historical and biographical research, homestead site documentation, dendroarchaeological research, and architectural analyses. The results of this study suggest that the cultural backgrounds of homesteaders were influential in architectural decisions but were not necessarily the most important factor. Intentions for staying in the canyon and interests in conveniently acquiring construction materials were also important.
“Landscapes of Caring”
Chelsea Wait, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
As a society, we often think of care as a practice within the field of health or within domestic space. However, care is a ubiquitous world-making process: it is simultaneously a feeling, an action, and a philosophy. Outward manifestations of care shape our shared world. Many people practice caring in everyday actions that maintain, improve, or repair the world around them. Ordinary citizens have myriad daily routines such as neighborhood networking or preening the landscape. Larger events expand care at the community level, such as bringing people together to garden and create new public spaces out of vacancy. In my dissertation research, I look at practices of caring which articulate our shared existence across time and space and at intermediate scales of the home, street, block, and local park. In this poster, I present the research from a chapter of my dissertation on caring, which takes place at the scale of the block. This case study traces the history of several lots in Center Peace Neighborhood within the segregated urban landscape of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as they have historically been homes, but as deindustrialization and economic recession hit Milwaukee, these homes became vacant and have since been demolished. Neighbors concerned with the amount of vacancy on their block took action to convert these lots into urban gardens and public parks. This act of caring tells a story of how to take back a neighborhood from the crushing forces of segregation and economic polarization.
“Exploring the Old Spanish Trail: Romanticizing Spanish Mission Sites”
Lindsey Wieck, St Mary's University
This poster explores the Old Spanish Trail (OST), a national highway built largely between 1919-1929 that stretched from St. Augustine, Florida through San Antonio, Texas to San Diego, California. The route's organizers and boosters promoted the trail using rhetoric of romanticized Spanish heritage as this trail connected many of the old Spanish Missions throughout the South. This poster represents early research by my students and I as we digitize the archives of the Old Spanish Trail Association and begin to analyze the cultural landscape produced by the OST. This poster will explore questions such as: Who was the targeted audience of the OST's boosterism? Who benefitted from this increase of travelers? What were the racial implications of invoking a romanticized vision of the Spanish past? How were these racial ideas inscribed into the landscape of the OST?
"Alternative Migrant Housing in Southern Chinese Villages-by-the-city”
Jiong (Abingo) Wu, Syracuse University
This poster explores the creativities and innovations of the migrant housing in villages-by-the-city, southern China. Through demonstrating series of “non-mainstream” migrant housing in villages-by-the-city, it challenges the stereotypical public impressions of the Chinese self-built migrant housing, such as substandard living conditions, social exclusions, lacking of self-improving mechanisms, etc. The poster organizes twenty-four housing cases into four thematic sections. Each section responds to a controversial issue on Chinese migrant housing: congestion, social exclusion, gentrification, and residential segregation. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, I document and analyze each housing case through architectural plans, sections, diagrams, axonometric drawings, photo essays, and interviews. What it attempts to unfold is not only about the stories of villagers and migrants, but also the creative housing typologies and management methods. It is about how people struggle in the rapidly changing global environment. And how the choices of “alternative paths” are formulated during the struggles. In this sense, this poster is not about “the typical” or “generality”. It is about “exceptionalism” and “diversity”. Framing in this way, I acknowledge the criticism and dilemma of the current self-built migrant housing, and attempt to go beyond them by presenting the existing alternatives.
SESSIONS 4-6: Starting 1:00 pm
4 -Sites of Memory
Chair: Abby Van Slyck
"Race, Memory, and Leisure at the Mexia, Texas, Confederate Reunion Grounds"
C. Ian Stevenson, Clark University
In 1892, members of the fraternal United Confederate Veterans Camp Joe Johnston #94 purchased twenty acres fronting the Navasota River in Mexia, Texas. Over the next nineteen years, they would assemble a total of 92 acres, platting it for 332 family-sized plots and installing three communal pavilions. Like their Union veteran counterparts, in the last decades of the nineteenth century Confederate veterans designed outdoor spaces with architectural interventions to combine leisure and memory of the Civil War for themselves and civilians alike. At waterfront locations, these veterans hoped to use natural features, such as shade and breezes, to augment entertainment and festive food, as ways to bring together constituents with shared understanding of the Civil War. Such landscapes were devoted to the Civil War Vacation—hybrid activities that were fully commemorative and fully recreational, designed to help veterans solidify their own memory of the conflict, promote healing, and impart specific legacies to future generations.
This interdisciplinary paper employs a cultural landscapes approach to one Confederate variant of the Civil War Vacation, examining the site’s built environment as both a manifestation of and shaper of Lost Cause ideology. As evidence, it explores the orthogonal plot plan, lease covenants dictating the types of structures allowed, and photographic and written evidence of the landscape’s use. Although Confederate veterans mirrored their Union veterans by creating landscapes at waterfront locations devoted to a combination of commemoration and leisure with family and friends, they were unable to center memory on the triumph of victory or ending slavery. Rather than focus on celebrating battles to augment honoring fallen brethren as a way to cope with the conflict’s trauma, Confederate veterans instead employed their Civil War Vacation to support the ascendant Lost Cause. This paper argues that Confederate Civil War Vacation compounds celebrated the old antebellum order, normalized the racial hierarchy inherent in the tenuous white supremacy ideology, and supported the creation of a segregated society at the same time they embraced middle-class leisurely activities.
"'Columbus Might Be Dwarfed to Obscurity': Italian Americans' Engagement with Columbus Monuments in a Time of Decolonization"
Laura E. Ruberto, Berkeley City College; and Joseph Sciorra, Queens College, City University of New York
Since at least the 1992 quincentenary of Columbus’s arrival in the Caribbean, the once-glorified Columbian legacy has been increasingly challenged within and beyond indigenous communities by reiterating the atrocities he established in a genocidal approach to colonization. A renewed scrutiny of Columbus statues occurred in the wake of outcries to remove Confederate-focused statuary in public spaces. And yet, representatives of local and national Italian American organizations vigorously rearticulate their support for Columbus Day and oppose the removal of Columbus monuments in the name of Italian American victimization.
Civic monuments are the products of specific historical moments that coalesce into the eventual design, building, and display of what is deemed permissible by those with access to financial, political, and cultural resources. Such objects are never fully expressive of an all-encompassing ethos and thus are loci of tensions of competing collectives. Frictions and disagreements exist at the time of creation and have the potential to accumulate and multiply in a pluralistic society along variated lines of interpretation and affiliation. Such predicaments have certainly occurred with most Columbus monuments conceptualized, funded, fabricated, and gifted by Italian Americans to various municipalities throughout the twentieth century.
We understand Columbus monuments as “sites of memory” that function within a system of rememoration (Pierre Nora)—the act of resuscitating the past. Using an interdisciplinary approach combining theories on public monuments, collective memory, material culture, and migration studies, we consider how contemporary Italian Americans’ attachment to Columbus perpetuates a master narrative regarding earlier Italian migration developed during the white ethnic revival of the 1970s which reaffirms a racialized ideology of privilege and exclusion. We will focus on two contemporary case studies—New York City and San Jose (California)—of the historical construction of a Columbus statue and the contemporary debates around their continued presence within public spaces. In each case, these two cities, both with Italian American mayors, have had continued and varying efforts to remove or preserve these migrant-created monuments in light of shifting cultural politics. By interpreting and relying on archival research, present-day news items, interviews/oral histories, and visual analysis we demonstrate the intricate and uneasy relationship monuments have to public memory and the constant re-negotiation of collective memory. This process leads us to better understand how contemporary Italian Americans use memory and history as rhetorical strategies to defend or decry monuments of the past in light of mounting criticism against them in the present.
"Beyond Design History: The Many Layered Pasts of Pope Villa"
Julie Riesenweber, University of Kentucky
After a catastrophic fire in 1987 burned away the architectural fabric of 175 years’ successive alterations at Lexington’s Pope House, researchers were able to confirm that the original owners and their local builder had indeed built to plans drawn by Benjamin Henry Latrobe and archived at the Library of Congress. This firm attribution to Latrobe, who is often called “America’s first architect,” generated interest among architectural historians and preservationists both locally and nationally. Shortly after the fire, the Bluegrass Trust for Historic Preservation, central Kentucky’s regional preservation non-profit organization, purchased the building, intending to restore its original appearance and find a use for it. For the past 30 years, both conversations about preserving Pope Villa and the interventions undertaken have proceeded from a traditional group of assumptions: that the building’s significance derives from Latrobe, that it should be interpreted as his best domestic design, and restored to its 1812 appearance. The discoveries in the fire’s aftermath led to a scholarly reassessment of Latrobe’s domestic work, a detailed investigation of the building’s architectural fabric, removal of materials dating after its first period, and painstaking, scientific conservation of the materials dating to the first period. These analyses have depicted Latrobe as Pope Villa’s sole author, and have not considered his ideas’ reception. Conceptually framed by vernacular architecture scholarship, utilizing information drawn from architectural investigations at Pope Villa, and from fieldwork in Lexington and the surrounding region, this presentation argues that the building has multiple meanings extending beyond its place within Latrobe’s oeuvre. While in some respects, the house was built as Latrobe planned, he never visited Lexington, instead communicating with the local builder in letters and other documents, and through Eliza Pope. The house’s architectural finish owes more to its local context, suggesting that it in fact had multiple authors. Moreover, while innovative, Latrobe’s design for Pope Villa violated local architectural norms. As a result, once John Pope sold the house in 1843, the purchasers quickly renovated it to conform with local spatial expectations. Considering Pope Villa in this multi-layered way both furthers our knowledge of the nuances of building design and construction during the early 19th century, and underscores the importance of the local context for understanding buildings, regardless of whether their authors are known or anonymous.
5 - State Power and Landscape Production
Chair: Chad Randl
"Immigrant Detention Buildings on the West Coast of Canada"
David Monteyne, University of Calgary
The Canadian government erected substantial buildings for the detention of Asian immigrants in the two principal west coast ports of Victoria (in 1908) and Vancouver (1914). Although Asian immigration had been restricted since the 1880s, during the decade prior to World War I this policy became formalized architecturally—a trajectory similar to that followed at San Francisco’s Angel Island. Responding to white settler desires to “segregate the Pacific” (Nightingale, Segregation, 2012), which were made manifest in actions like the widely-reported anti-Asian riot in 1907 Vancouver, the Canadian government sought to represent through these two prominent waterfront buildings its commitment to controlling the comings and goings of non-European immigrants.
"Reclaiming the Built Environment for the People: The Urban Renewal Activities of Jeff-Vander-Lou in St. Louis"
Michael R. Allen, Washington University in St. Louis
This paper positions the work of activists in St. Louis’ JeffVanderLou neighborhood as a project of producing a new spatial vernacular that dared to even reclaim products of federal urban renewal policies. In 1966, an interracial group of conveners founded Jeff-Vander-Lou, Inc. as a community development corporation serving the mostly African-American neighborhood. The new corporation and its interracial supporters forcefully inscribed presence on the landscape of the neighborhood, from renaming the neighborhood to directing public dollars to rehabilitation of historic houses. Similar neighborhoods either invited slum clearance projects or failed to organize politically. Jeff-Vander-Lou not only challenged urban renewal orthodoxy, but implemented a massive program of historic rehabilitation and infill construction. The organization helped St. Louis write its Model Cities application, and was its most productive neighborhood partner – until its political activism led to City Hall severing ties.
This paper explores the built environment program of Jeff-Vander-Lou against the backdrops of the federal shift from slum clearance to Model Cities funding and the national rise of the neighborhoods movement. Rather than “withdraw from” urban renewal, JeffVanderLou “engaged with” while nearly achieving a rather comprehensive project of spatially reordering an urban neighborhood to serve its residents through organized and shared local authority. In its most active period, from 1966 through 1974, Jeff-Vander-Lou funded and directed the rehabilitation of 800 historic housing units, breaking with conventional wisdom within the dominant black political culture in St. Louis which embraced mass demolition as a liberation from white-owned slums. Jeff-Vander-Lou, however, also broke from the local preservationist conventions in advocating neighborhood ownership and cultural hegemony, rather than the more individualist and bohemian approaches that drove rehabilitation in other historic neighborhoods. At its peak of power, the organization even unsuccessfully proposed purchasing several towers from the adjacent Pruitt-Igoe housing project for rehabilitation as co-operatively owned apartment houses.
While today Jeff-Vander-Lou’s architectural production is obscured by intervening vacancy, neglect and demolition, it remains a powerful outlier in St. Louis’ urban renewal history. Jeff- Vander-Lou dared to reclaim vernacular architecture not for its cultural pedigree, but for its utility. In so doing, it reshaped the neighborhood’s built environment. Even today, the remaining buildings that the organization touched show signs of a “Jeff-Vander-Lou vernacular” that speaks of a rich era of community self-organization that sparked reformulation of both historic preservation and urban renewal.
6 -The Architecture of Agriculture: City and Country
Chair: Jennifer Reut
"Bracing Against the Prairie Winds: A Case Study of Three Estonian Farmsteads in Stark County, North Dakota"
Travis Olson, University of Wisconsin-Madison
In the first decade of the twentieth century a small number of families emigrated from Estonia to western Stark County, North Dakota. This immigrant group brought their architectural customs—traditions reflected in the farmsteads built in this area. Their buildings demonstrate the continuance of their cultural heritage and reveal instead a connection to Germanic building types, suggesting a broader German diaspora than has been previously considered. Drawing on fieldwork conducted over the past three years, including measured drawings and recorded oral histories, this project is a case study of three remarkable surviving farmsteads which demonstrate both the variety of building types constructed by the Estonian families in Stark County as well as the ways that these families modified their cultural building traditions in reaction to this new landscape in an attempt to succeed in their new American environment.
This project builds on my ongoing dissertation research on the architectural traditions of Eastern European settlement in Western North Dakota which is largely focused on the culturally Germanic immigrants that came to the Northern Great Plains from the Eurasian Steppe—groups that are locally known as the Germans-from-Russia and the Germans-from-Hungary. The Estonian families on which this project is focused do not neatly fit into either of these groups, and because they attended the Scandinavian Lutheran church, they established local networks with the Norwegian and Swedish families rather than the Catholic Germanic peoples.
Their farmsteads suggest an evolution of sorts as these families adapted to the harsh landscape of the Upper Great Plains. The buildings are built largely of locally-sourced stone, as wood was rare and expensive when accessible, and the farm buildings reflect the builders’ adaptation of their traditional house types for construction in available materials. Similar to the German-Russian houses we’ve studied in the area, the dwelling floor plans reflect German traditions, most evident in the modified flurküchenhaus plan. Notable are the ways that the Estonians exercised their technical construction skills. The earliest farmstead studied for this project contains a housebarn, while the second farmstead contains an attic reinforced for grain storage. The third farmhouse was constructed slightly later and suggests the American influence on the settlers through the attempt to separate the domestic from the agricultural spheres of the farmstead. All three farmhouses demonstrate attempts to mitigate the harsh weather of the Northern Great Plains: builders altered the locations of doors and windows, strategically sited their houses in the landscape, built exterior entrance vestibules (known in the Germanic traditions as vorhausl), and built low-pitched and reinforced roofs.
This research is part of an ongoing effort to understand and document the cultural landscape of this region. Based on three years of study and three field schools led by Dr. Anna Andrzejewski at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Previous research has attempted to identify a German-Russian house type, and this project complicates the narrative by examining the often-overlooked Estonian perspective while building an understanding of the ways that peoples from different cultural backgrounds adapted their building traditions in response to the natural environment of the Upper Great Plains.
"A Symbol of Resistance: The Farmers’ Alliance Building in Big D"
Paula Lupkin, University of North Texas
By the late 1880s unrest grew among the farmers in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, who like agrarians throughout the US, resented the control wielded by railroads and distant bankers and brokers over the price and distribution of their crops. Much of the infrastructure that facilitated this system of control, from the rail lines themselves, to telegraphic networks, grain elevators, and cold storage warehouses, terminal facilities, and merchant’s exchanges, were controlled in St. Louis, Kansas City, and New Orleans. To resist, local branches of the Farmers’ Alliance organization, part of the Populist movement, sought to cooperatively manage their own grain elevators, crop insurance companies, and plow and cultivator dealerships across rural America. In Texas, they took their fight from the country to the city, building an ambitious four story, $45,000 Alliance Exchange building designed by Albrich Ulrich just at the edge of growing Dallas to coordinate the marketing of the cotton crop of the state membership and to act as a central purchasing house.
This paper will examine this radical urban-agricultural architectural experiment, which housed store rooms, banking facilities, a telegraph office, and wholesale farm implement dealers. It linked the farmers from their rural locations to the markets of Dallas and St. Louis, where they competed directly and equally with the brokers and dealers on the exchanges, purchased their cultivators and seed in bulk, and borrowed money at reasonable rates. Lasting only a few years before failing financially, the Alliance Exchange and its building is an important and rare link between city and country, vernacular and elite, pre-industrial and industrial, agrarian and commercial.
"The Lost Skyscrapers of Goose Island: Philip Armour’s Grain Elevators, 1888-1933"
Thomas Leslie, FAIA, Iowa State University
Chicago’s status as the financial capital of the Midwest was due to its geographic position at the junction of numerous routes of exchange, but also, as William Cronon explained in his 1990 book, Nature’s Metropolis, to the development of storage structures that transformed grain from an agricultural product sold by the bag to a free-flowing commodity. While physical grain moved through and around the Chicago River and the ‘iron necklace’ of rail lines surrounding the city’s center, speculators and traders within the Loop found sophisticated ways to bet on its pricing without ever coming into contact with the operations of the city’s growing collection of enormous handling structures.
These grain elevators were owned and operated by a loose clique of elevators who were poised between the interests of traders, farmers, railroads, and increasingly nervous state and federal governments who saw the explosive growth of futures trading as a genuine risk to the country’s sustenance. In particular, market manipulations known as ‘corners,’ during which traders would draw up contracts requiring delivery of vast quantities of grain for a set price on a future date—and then hoard grain to drive up those prices, forcing their marks to purchase and sell the same grain back at ferocious losses—caused the Chicago grain market to fluctuate wildly. Local papers reported breathlessly on the drama of traders winning and losing unimaginable fortunes during these struggles while elevator operators quietly pocketed their share of both parties’ transactions through storage fees and under-the-table payments elicited by such corners’ need for huge stockpiles of commodity grain.
Philip Armour made his fortune in Chicago on meatpacking—and, in particular, by cornering the hog market through similar manipulations at the end of the Civil War. Seeing even greater potential in grain, however, he embarked on a plan in 1882 to break a corner attempt by secretly hoarding grain as protection against price manipulations; to ensure secrecy, he took over a network of elevators connected to the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. This strategy proved successful, and in 1887 he launched an even more ambitious defense against another corner by rapidly building the city’s largest grain elevators on Goose Island, in the River’s north branch, that connected him to the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad. With access to vast territories both west and northwest of the city, Armour proved a formidable financial warrior, building another “thirty-day” elevator to smash yet another corner bid in 1893.
Armour’s structures captured the imagination of the city and, indeed, the nation. Scientific American devoted several pages to the resulting complex, the Chicago Tribune called it one of the city’s “seven wonders,” and for years postcards and tourist pamphlets included the 150’ high structures as must-see attractions. As the largest of over one hundred timber and iron elevators in the city, Armour’s were flagships not only for the grain trade, but for the city’s reputation as a place of ruthless financial buccaneering; they became symbols of Chicago’s bustling port and the scale of its speculative dealings. Destroyed by fires during the Depression, nothing remains of these giant examples of architecture as economic warfare, but the central importance of the commodities market is a lasting monument to the activity that was enabled and symbolized by the city’s “other skyscrapers.”
SESSIONS 7-9: Starting 3:00 pm
7 - New Perspectives on Urbanism
Chair: Zachary Violette
"The Street Life of Toronto's Split-level Storefronts"
Erica Allen-Kim, University of Toronto
For a quarter century, developers added density to Toronto’s low-rise retail strips by constructing split-level commercial buildings. By the early 2000s, many of these buildings were underused or demolished. One architect of a split-level plaza, Lloyd Alter, publicly expressed support for its demise. In most cases, these in-fill projects replaced 19th c. row houses and storefronts with 2-3 story buildings accessed by exterior stairs. During the 70s, split-level developers took advantage of the city planning department’s preference for separating pedestrian and automobile traffic by moving retail underground. Between 1968 and 1977, the city offered density bonuses for underground retail, financed tunneling costs, and excluded retail basement spaces from the commercial gross floor area calculation.
These land use incentives transformed Toronto’s financial district into glittering towers connected by an underground retail network known as the PATH. The split-level also proliferated in aging mixed-use areas such as Yorkville, Yonge, and Dundas West, as property owners sought to double rental income without increasing above- grade height. The split-level storefront or plaza attracted small independent businesses, many run by newcomers. The design was simple—concrete stairs, metal railing, floor-to-ceiling plate glass, low horizontal signboard—and a small pit served as a threshold space for the basement shops. Following density bonus changes in the 1977 Central Area Plan, the number of new split-levels decreased. Unexamined by researchers and unpopular with pedestrians, urbanists, and store tenants, it was criticized for creating pockets of dead space in a city that Jane Jacobs had called home since 1968.
There is one neighborhood where the split-level has defied expectations. Chinatown West has the largest concentration of split-levels—32 along Spadina and Dundas West. The history and economy of Chinatown West created an opportunity for split-levels to become a generative part of the built landscape. Archival research of local newspapers and planning documents, mapping of sidewalk and storefront use, and a survey of split-level businesses and their design indicate that the split-level faces challenges similar to other areas yet offers a critical infrastructure for an entrepreneurial community. A close reading of the built form reveals that the split-level—much denigrated elsewhere in the city—works within the cultural context of Chinatown to produce a new form of heritage spatial practice. Whereas heritage consultants argued that Alter’s plaza lacked heritage value, I conclude that the same cannot be said for Chinatown West, which is currently facing redevelopment and gentrification pressures.
"'After All, It's the Welfare Office and Nobody Likes Us...'" The History of the Architecture of Public Welfare in Virginia"
Andrew Marshall, Cunninham/Quill Architects
Beginning with the seventeenth century Elizabethan poor laws, local public welfare efforts long provided a structure dedicated to relief – the almshouse. However, by the second decade of the twentieth century, the almshouse model had fallen into disrepute. In turn, Virginia officials invented its replacement: the district home. This consolidated and modernized version of the almshouse extended the tradition of indoor relief for the poor, indigent, disabled, aged, and abandoned. The New Deal policies of the 1930s instead reoriented public welfare toward outdoor relief, ending the inpatient housing model of “indoor” relief in favor of the issuance of benefits as monies or commodities via newly-mandated local departments. These welfare departments were the first in state and local government to be integrated across race and gender lines. Amid this progress, political battles loomed as conservative antipathy fought the mere concept of welfare and decried the federal government’s supposed socialistic, paternalistic tendencies. The peak political struggles occurred during the Welfare Rights movement of 1969-70 as local welfare offices became the site for “spontaneous demonstrations” led by organizers and welfare recipients to fight intimidation by local officials.
The post-World War II architecture of public welfare was one of adaptive reuse. Quarters for welfare departments in Virginia mirrored the recommendations from a design manual for local welfare units which suggested that architects and officials avoid “elaborate or luxurious” offices. Accordingly, Virginian officials and architects produced functional and economic quarters that often seemed “hidden away,” according to Virginia welfare rights advocate Rafe Pomerance. In the mid-1970s, new regulations on welfare offices increased pressure on local politicians and led to the construction of the first purpose-built welfare buildings in the state.
This paper is an architectural history of our most maligned public service. Key sources include newspaper accounts, government archives, field investigations, among others. These sources show that the formalized welfare program of post-war Virginia was shaped by the forces of expansion, hostility, and economy. Consequently, the quarters for local welfare departments became perpetually unseen: a specter of local government. In 1960, state welfare director Richard W. Copeland declared: “Our welfare programs are in existence because they are the will of the people.”
"Moderated and Controlled: Post-prohibition Public Drinking Spaces in Toronto"
Leila Marie Farah, Ryerson University
The political, social and cultural repercussions of Prohibition in North America have been extensively studied. However, post-prohibition effects and how the reintroduction of alcoholic beverages altered or generated new spaces have been less documented. In San Antonio, “Pearl Brewhouse”--a late nineteenth century key landmark at the heart of a more recent revitalization mixed-use development--was forced to rethink and diversify its production in order to remain operational during prohibition, and new venues like the “Esquire Tavern” opened in 1933 following the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment.
This paper focuses on the spatial effects of post-prohibition north of the border-more specifically, in the Canadian city of Toronto, Ontario. While prohibition there ended in 1927, it was not until 1934 that regular public drinking was legalized. To control this change, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario assumed the responsibility—and power--to review and approve plans and other sets of drawings depicting alterations and proposals for alcohol- related public consumption spaces. This work presents evidence that regulations and surveillance were major driving forces in the design of beverage rooms and dinning spaces. In addition, it examines the movements of people (customers and staff) and the spatial organization and transformations of such spaces.
Methodologically, this study uses primary documents and drawings pertaining to Standard Hotels from the 30s and 40s. It presents this material visually via static and dynamic media, based on orthographics, contracts and photos. Overall, the paper contributes to understanding the role of beverage consumption in shaping buildings, landscapes and communities in the era following prohibition.
"The Görlitz’ People’s Library and Reading Hall (1907/2009)",
Maxi Schreiber, Technische Universität Darmstadt
In Görlitz, Germany, the “People’s Library and Reading Hall” opened its doors in 1907, making it one of the few free public library buildings designed as such. In contrast to the United States, German citizens had to fight hard to convince the municipal authorities to provide taxes for the founding and erection of a public library. The Görlitz library building survived World War II but suffered from terrible neglect under Communist rule. In 2009 it received an extension whose design was debated among municipal politicians. At that time, Görlitz’s Renaissance-era city center was renovated and became a tourist attraction. However, the library was situated in the western part of the city that was erected during the massive expansion of the city in the mid-19th and early 20th century. It formed part of the flourishing, industrialized part of Görlitz, yet lay outside of the Renaissance-era city center. However, as buildings from this era of the city’s history are not fully renovated, they are scantly included in recommended tourist routes.
In this talk, I will discuss the meaning of Görlitz’s People’s Library from 1907 as one of the first unique public library buildings in Germany. Through a study of early 20th century architectural planning guides (Gebäudekunde) for architects, newspapers, library journals and architectural periodicals, the paper demonstrates the value these libraries have had in German society. Further, I will explore the annex added to the building in 2009. Finally, I will examine how this building’s narrative is discussed in today’s context of the cityscape and its advertised identity as a renovated renaissance treasure.
8 - The State of Black Vernacular Architecture in Historic Black Settlements
Chair: Andrea Roberts
"The State of Texas Freedom Colonies Vernacular Architecture"
Andrea Roberts, Texas A&M
African American families made up of former slaves aggressively pursued land ownership after the Civil War in Texas. Clusters of agrarian, land-owning settlements or “Freedom Colonies” emerged from secluded areas across the State. Also known as Freedmen's Towns, settlements, "my family place", "where we go for homecoming", Black settlements, or "the Black side of town", these communities were unique in that they were founded by formerly enslaved Texans and trace their origins directly back to the period between 1865-1930. Many of these communities cannot be found on maps or in current census maps, but they live on in memory, church anniversaries, and family reunions. Nearly 150 years later, select communities are fortunate enough to retain and utilize the tangible vernacular architecture of their ancestors and founders of their respective communities. This paper explores vernacular architectural contributions in Texas Freedom Colonies and the current state of these structures through visual analysis of historical and present-day photographs and oral recollections.
"Rediscovering African American Builders in Austin’s Black Settlements"
Tara Dudley, The University of Texas at Austin
This paper uncovers the contributions of African American craftsmen and builders to architecture in Austin’s Black settlements during the nineteenth century, both before and after the Civil War. Scholars have explored many examples of slave labor and related development of Black settlements in other US urban areas such as New Orleans, Charleston, and Richmond. These resources and issues—indeed the larger story of slaver—remain largely untold Texas. Although fewer footprints in the built environment linked to slavery remain in Austin, Texas, the city was tied to that institution and to the contributions of those brought to the fledgling frontier city from the city’s founding in 1839. From surveying and platting of the city to constructing the first government buildings and homes of the city’s elite, the labor of the enslaved contributed to the growth of Austin from the capital city of the Republic of Texas into that of the State of Texas. The only extant slave quarters building in Austin, located at the present-day site of the Neill-Cochran House Museum, provides a framework to explore antebellum works built by and for African Americans and tie it to the communities such as Wheatville which freedmen developed adjacent to the property owned by the Neill and Cochran families. Today the only extant resource in Wheatville, built by freedman George Franklin in 1867, is being literally engulfed by condominium development in the West Campus neighborhood. The author explores the state of this other resources erected by freedmen throughout the city, especially in rapidly gentrifying East Austin where freedmen established no less than four known communities in the 1860s and 1870s.
Visual analysis of built works and examination of a variety of archival sources highlight the growth and development of antebellum American building culture in Austin as it was created by those who were enslaved and subsequently developed by the hands of freedmen. The author concludes that the roles of enslaved craftsmen and builders, when interpreted through the lens of these varied sources, enable educators and practitioners to reintroduce, reconsider, or “reconstruct,” enslaved peoples’ legacy and situate it within the understanding of extant urban landscapes as well as the canon of American architectural history.
"St. John Missionary Baptist Church (Fort Bend, Texas): A Case Study"
Portia Hopkins, Lee College
This paper explores the political and cultural landscapes of Reconstruction Era Texas, particularly in Fort Bend County, Texas and examines the ways in which, in the midst of a racist geopolitical space, the black church served as a nucleus for African American life. St. John Missionary Baptist Church, founded in 1869 by Freed slaves, served as the case study for this project.
"The Front Porch: Racial Turmoil, Forced Migration and the Quest for Asylum"
Summit, also known as Thomasville, was established in 1922 by Rev. L.W. Thomas and is now one of thirteen Black towns of Oklahoma still in existence. Rev. Thomas, a Texas freedom colony native is responsible for organizing the St. Thomas Primitive Baptist Church in the community of Summit. In 1929, the congregation constructed a church building that still stands today. The narrative of Rev. Thomas’ story is unique in that he not only was born in a freedom colony but also went on to establish an equivalent community in Oklahoma after racial tensions rose and forced him to migrate to Muskogee County after striking oil during the 1921 oil boom that occurred in Mexia, Texas. The residence that Rev. Thomas built was a place of community, altruism and solitude for many Summit residents as well as visitors who passed through the town. This paper explores the vernacular contributions of Rev. Thomas’ family residence as well as the historic St. Thomas Primitive Baptist Church in the context of racial tensions, forced migration and the quest for asylum. Visual analysis of photographs and content analysis of newspapers mentioning the construction of the home were utilized as the primary methodological practices of this paper. There is not much remaining of the historic footprint of the early Summit township but the impact of the two structures being discussed here is vital to bringing visibility to this historic community and great leader.
9 - Popular Pastimes
Chair: Lisa Davidson
"Building Horesetopia: Marion DuPont Scott’s Construction of the Montpelier Stables as a Rejection of Social Norms"
Mary C. Fesak, University of Delaware
Born in 1894 to William du Pont, Sr. and Anne Rogers Zinn, the introverted and tomboyish Marion duPont Scott turned to horseback riding as a child despite the objections of her mother who wanted Marion to become a debutante. As a young adult, Marion openly challenged gender norms by competing on horses while riding astride. By the mid-1920s, she had developed a love of steeplechase racing. While her father had already developed James Madison’s Montpelier into a country estate complete with facilities for riding and driving horses, Marion envisioned Montpelier as a first-class thoroughbred training, racing, and breeding establishment. Upon her father’s death in 1928, Marion directly contested gender norms through the construction of three premier racetracks and a thoroughbred training complex. She became a leading steeplechase racehorse owner and breeder, raising and training horses at Montpelier until her death in 1983.
Based on my research as the 2019 SAH/HABS Sally Kress Tompkins Fellow, this paper explores the construction of Marion’s thoroughbred training complex. The training complex contained training barns, worker housing, and outbuildings. Using archival research, oral histories, and field investigations, the paper evaluates how the complex’s layout, vernacular construction, and changing spatial usage patterns reflected Marion’s increasing rejection of the class, race, and gender norms that structured the social and labor hierarchies in elite horseracing culture during the 1920s and 1930s. Eschewing the construction of the palatial, high- style Colonial Revival training barns and indoor training tracks of her peers, Marion collaborated with Montpelier’s African American construction foreman Mitchell Jackson to build highly functional, vernacular, purpose-built summer and winter training barns using precut materials from Sears and Roebuck.
This paper also explores how Marion quickly abandoned her traditional understandings of class, race, and labor norms reflected in her construction of the segregated worker housing typical of thoroughbred farms as she hired talented African American horsemen for supervisory positions. Made possible by her elite social status, Marion’s “horsetopia” at Montpelier facilitated her escape from gendered societal expectations into the masculine culture of horseracing she found more fulfilling. In contrast to many thoroughbred farms that reinforced class and racial norms, the training complex at Montpelier enabled working-class white and African American horsemen to form a community with their employer around their shared love of horseracing in Jim Crow Virginia. This paper reveals how a seemingly simple agrarian built environment served as a site for the mediation of complex social norms.
"’Meet Me at the Swap Meet’: Immigrant Entrepreneurs and West Coast Hip Hop’s Intercultural Origins"
Alec Stewart, University of California, Berkeley
Just before Christmas in 2014, several hundred Korean and Latinx vendors at the Compton Swap Meet received extremely bad news: their workplace had been sold to Walmart, and they would be forced to close. Compton stood to lose one of its most iconic places, which was both a significant source of goods and services within a retail desert, and an internationally famous hip hop site. As two longtime customers later opined, the swap meet was “poppin,’ literally and figuratively [with] African American culture” during its heyday, and it was “the holy grail of the hood.” These sentiments are part a growing chorus that cites the Compton Swap Meet as one of west coast hip hop’s most important places. Indeed, pioneering artists Dr. Dre and Eazy-E used the Compton Swap Meet as an initial distribution outlet for self-produced recordings that mainstream record stores refused to sell. Since 1986, more than 200 rap artists from Ice-T to Nipsey Hussle have affirmed the indoor swap meet’s status by naming them in the lyrics of over 300 hip hop tracks. They also routinely appear in music videos, including Kendrick Lamar’s 2015, “King Kunta,” which he shot on the Compton Swap Meet’s marquee and parking lot. Within a hip hop tradition of reporting and critiquing non-white urban social realities, Lamar joins a growing number of artists who frames swap meet space through a nostalgic lens.
Like housing projects in the Bronx and Queens, where young DJ’s developed the foundational tools of hip hop DJing and rapping, indoor swap meets were central to the social (re)production of hip hop culture on the west coast.4 Architectural theorist, Craig Wilkins, has observed that “hip hop design” involves the appropriation and “remaking” of spaces neglected by white upper and middle classes into sites of empowerment.5 Over four decades, hip hop lyrics have discursively similarly reframed swap meets as extraordinary hip hop spaces. In this paper, I argue that west coast hip hop evolved in tandem with swap meet spaces via a dialectical relationship between music and place. While indoor swap meets articulated the material culture of west coast hip hop through the articles sold within them, lyrics about them in turn ascribed new meanings to multicultural shopping spaces. I explore the dimensions of this relationship by analyzing a variety of swap meet goods, including custom t-shirts, tattoos, and bling, as well as the hip hop lyrics that made indoor swap meets internationally famous.
"The Beach, Boardwalk, and Motel in Florida: The Context of Beach-side Leisure, Polynesian Dreams, and Representations of the Tropics in Daytona Beach"
Mike Walker, Savannah College of Art & Design
Daytona Beach bills itself as “the world’s most-famous beach” which may or may not be true, but there is no disputing that Florida’s highest-grossing industry for decades has been tourism and that Florida attracts more tourists per year than any other destination in the world. Daytona Beach long has marketed itself as a premier Spring Break and summer vacation spot, so it is logical to examine the material culture of its beachfront. Interestingly, after promoting itself as the go-to destination for vacations, many hotels, bars, restaurants, and attractions along the beach strive to convey a sense of somewhere else: Aztec or Mayan palaces or temples and especially Polynesian or Hawai’ian locales are commonly represented, invoking a removal of authenticity both in terms of representing other cultures and geographies and, thereby, not representing the actuality of Daytona Beach. Yet what is that actuality? Daytona Beach has a long history with English and Spanish pioneer settlers and an even longer history with the native Timucuan peoples. Today, the extended urban micropolitan area numbers a population of around 350,000 and Daytona Beach has become a Floridian city recognized by name the world over, just as Orlando and Miami are, as a vacation destination.
"Make Room for Happy Hour: Middle America’s Love Affair with the Post-War Basement Bar"
Mary Anne Beecher, Ohio State University
Throughout North America, the prospect of living in below-grade spaces emerged as a product of life-style shifts in the post-World War II era. In the U.S. and Canada, finished basement space became an expectation in the single-family suburban dwellings from Winnipeg to San Antonio throughout the mid-century period. By the 1950s, persons living in the middle of North America had formed a preference for occupying subterranean family rooms with wet bars for grown-up gatherings or “rec rooms” that served as play spaces for children and teens. Often, the two were combined.
Modern vernacular interiors are extremely vulnerable to alteration, creating the urgency for this research. Shifts in leisure behavior preferences and a desire for aesthetic continuity in the everyday domestic environment have resulted in a significant loss of modern vernacular basement environments in the 21st century. This study relies on colorful mid-twentieth century advertisements for modern interior finishes and real estate listings that portray the actual physical attributes of basement leisure spaces that correspond in time. The ads portray imaginative spatial and decorative schemes such as the Old English Pub or the Polynesion Tiki Bar: whimsical alternatives to the more conservative traditional living spaces that could be seen from the street. More than 600 images from real estate listings for mid-twentieth century properties found along a middle North American corridor: Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada along with Fargo, Omaha, Kansas City, Tulsa and San Antonio have been used to reveal a combination of vintage and remodeled spaces, providing insight into how historic modern vernacular spaces have fared over time.
The results of this research include a typology of basement leisure spaces, with particular attention to the attributes of the basement bar. Insights yielded include that spaces celebrating the consumption of alcoholic beverages in mid-century basements were prevalent, demonstrating the sociability of adults in the domestic environment of this time. While rarely matching the fanciful environments promoted by manufacturers of affordable, imitative, and waterproof interior materials, these spaces also extended the living environment of middle-class Americans and Canadians as more casual rooms with specialized features such as fireplaces, comfortable or rugged seating space, and areas for dancing or playing ping pong or pool. The impulse to create updated extensions to living space in the lower levels of these same houses reflects an effort to cultivate neutrality and accommodate contemporary preferences for networked and virtual social interactions.