VAF 2022 Conference Posters

1:00 - 2:00 pm – Poster authors will be present to discuss their work 

Room 1 

Alex Borger - Cultural Resource Specialist, Mead & Hunt - "Everything’s Bigger: Evaluating a Texas Corporate Agricultural Landscape with Geospatial Sources" 

Massive cattle ranching enterprises such as the elite King Ranch dominated agriculture in the Texas Coastal Bend in the nineteenth century. By the 1910s market shifts along with advancements in transportation and irrigation led to a new type of elite agricultural enterprise: large-scale, corporate cotton farms. One such operation was Nueces County’s Chapman Ranch, established in 1919. Across over 34,000 acres, its founders laid out a centralized operation with a company town and gridiron pattern of uniform tenant farmsteads. Chapman Ranch operations ended by the mid-twentieth century and only a few original buildings are still extant, including the company headquarters, two schools, a cotton gin, and several tenant farmhouses. 

Early corporate farms like Chapman Ranch played a vital role in Texas agricultural, economic, labor, and social history. Now cultural resources professionals must determine whether the current landscape still conveys this important story. 

This poster showcases the existing architecture of Chapman Ranch. It also addresses the critical challenge of evaluating vast historic agricultural landscapes that are far more than what meets the eye. It shows how historians can use GIS technology and publicly available geospatial sources, such as historic aerial imagery and digitized historic maps, to analyze landscape changes over time.

Sara Patrick - Student, Master of Arts, University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture - Finding Significance in Ordinary Architecture: Historic Preservation in the City of Enchantment

Lake Jackson, a town in Brazoria County, Texas, was once the site of an expansive sugar plantation made profitable by the labor of enslaved individuals. Although the plantation failed in the postbellum period, the area remained largely undeveloped and agricultural until Dow Chemical’s arrival to Freeport, Texas, in 1940. Extensive development forever changed the landscape when defense workers flooded into a region with limited housing stock and services, and the company began a series of efforts to provide adequate housing and ultimately create a viable permanent community. The new town of Lake Jackson was designed and built from the ground up in 1943 by Alden B. Dow—a noted architect, Taliesin fellow, and son of the Dow Chemical company founder—and featured winding streets lined with preserved live oak trees, a radial downtown with commercial buildings, and modest duplexes and singlefamily homes, all with simple but modern design flair. Today, many of Dow’s original houses and buildings have been altered or demolished. Although Lake Jackson takes pride in its Dow Chemical company town history and acknowledges Alden B. Dow as a founder, this pride does not translate into appreciation and preservation of Dow’s remaining built work, most likely due to its seemingly ordinary appearance. This research explores the concepts of significance and integrity as they apply to Lake Jackson’s ordinary architecture and considers preservation tools and alternatives that can be employed to encourage appreciation of our ordinary heritage.

Room 2 

Tessa Honeycutt - Architectural Technician, James Madison’s Montpelier -  Using 3D Software to Create an Interactive Digital Archive of Architectural Records at James Madison’s Montpelier 

Almost 18 years ago, the first excavation units were opened up in the walls of the Montpelier house. The evidence discovered changed the way the house was interpreted and led to one of the most extensive restoration projects of the time. Since the completion of the restoration, all the evidence, documentation, and discoveries made have lived in storage boxes with little to no organization. This poster will present the current work being done at James Madison’s Montpelier to develop a new way of organizing and presenting their restoration records for public consumption. This project combines several technologies, including ArcGIS Pro and SketchUp, to create an interactive environment and 3D model of the Madison house. Through the use of ArcGIS Pro, every individual architectural component of the house is searchable, and relevant records will be linked to that element in the attribute table. This poster will outline the methodology for digitizing and organizing the records within the 3D model of the house. It will also discuss its goal to create an interactive digital archive that is not only conducive for professional research but also encourages the public to explore and learn about the preservation of historic fabric through legacy data.

Catherine Cyr - Student, Master of Arts, Winterthur Program in American Material Culture - Heading Up to Camp: An Exploration of the Vernacular Architecture and History of Maine’s Lakeside Camps

In the backwoods of Maine, small, rustic structures, known as camps, are a quintessential part of the landscape. Built around the turn of the twentieth century, they were the perfect escape from congested cities via new railroad lines. Early camps, or “First Period Sporting Camps,” drew men looking for access to the pristine wilderness for sporting pursuits. Later, camps marketed their businesses to families looking for vacation destinations with outdoor activities, known as “Vacation Camps.” For many, visits to early camps sparked an interest in building personal retreats, leading to the construction of hundreds of individual “Family Camps” along lakes and ponds. 

While the term “camp” is not exclusive to Maine, it is used in the region to reflect a distinct form of architecture. Camps are structures consisting of a singular building or a group of sleeping cabins and a central lodge. They are specifically used for sporting or leisure purposes, typically during the summer months and, are located exclusively in the interior portion of the state, most often next to bodies of water. Camps are either stick-built or log construction, employing the use of local materials and labor, and they always have front porches. They are often painted dark brown with colorful, simple trim, and have multiple windows to capture cross breezes and provide much sought-after views. Camps are supported by wooden pier systems rather than masonry foundations, which allow the structures to settle as the ground freezes and thaws throughout the year. The small, segmented floorplans and vintage interior furnishing dictate how visitors use the structure while also indicating whether the camps are for individuals or families. 

This paper will use examples from fieldwork to advocate for the classification of Maine camps as a form of vernacular architecture. Looking specifically at the three categories of camps, this paper will analyze how the functions of camps changed over the first two-quarters of the twentieth century, in turn, affecting the design and features of the structures. It will also consider how camps influenced perceptions and manifestations of gender and class during the period, as well as their role in antimodernist and social movements. The future of early camps remains fraught as their desirable waterfront locations and the appeal of modernization threaten to erase their presence and character from the landscape, leading to calls for preservation which this paper hopes to further bolster.

Room 3

Amanda Clark - Dean, Library & Special Services, Whitworth University - Lintels and Linotype: Industrial Printshops and the Buildings the Housed Them

Printshops had widespread impact in how they molded their communities through published content and in how the buildings that housed them shaped the towns that contained them. Inland Northwest small-town printshops functioned both as staple structures in downtown daily life and offered otherwise rural communities access to urban ideas and concepts through the newspapers and the advertisement sheets folded within. Facing main streets across the Inland Empire, these sturdy structures became the central distributors of cultural shaping throughout the region.  

This poster explores intersectionalities between building structure—designed for weight and impact—as well as the social sway that the objects produced in those buildings had upon their communities. Methodologies include site visits, archival and library research, as well as the use of critical geography as a framework for intellectual investigation. The poster shall engage its viewers with a highly visually-rich, analytical rather than descriptive approach. This study aims at being of interest to those engaged in vernacular architectural studies broadly considered, looking both at the built environment and its cultural context. In short, this poster will present current, ongoing research, on the impact of these vernacular structures on enculturating rural communities in urban aesthetics.

Cindy Falk - Professor of Material Culture, Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York College at Oneonta - African American Travel in Mid Twentieth-Century New York State

Student co-authors from the Cooperstown Graduate Program : Carlene Bermann, Tucker Broadbooks, Olivia Fottrell, David Gain, Mary Johnson, Wilkes Jordan, David Rush, Caitlin Snyder, Collin Sovie, Sybil Tubbs, Katherine Ventura, and John York

Note: Due to graduation ceremonies at SUNY Oneonta, only Cindy Falk will attend in-person

This poster presentation will highlight research being conducted during the spring 2022 semester into the landscape—both extant and vanished—of African American travel in upstate New York in the twentieth century. This project, including mapping and identification of extant resources, is being undertaken by graduate students at the Cooperstown Graduate Program, SUNY Oneonta, enrolled in Cindy Falk’s historic preservation course. The transportation corridor across New York State, developed first through the Erie Canal, then the railroad, and eventually the New York State Thruway, provided access to cities from Albany to Buffalo. This project will explore upstate New York’s African American communities and the businesses residents developed to support travelers. Research will rely heavily on listings in Victor Green’s Green Book and exploration of the current landscape to determine what elements of the built environment of mid twentieth-century African American travel still survive in places like Syracuse, Rochester, Niagara Falls, and Buffalo. Preliminary research suggests that as the interstate highway system replaced railroads and local roads as the primary means of transportation, the urban renewal projects highways generated largely erased the thriving African American communities that previously served Black travelers.

Megan Reed - Cultural Heritage Preservationist, National Park Service (NPS) - Vanishing Structures: Documenting Slave Cabins and Tenant Farming Houses

In 2020, the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) began an extensive project to locate and document existing slave cabins and tenant farming houses occupied from the Reconstruction era to the late 1970s across the United States. The project includes using 3D technological methodologies to create digital models of the vernacular structures for architectural research, preservation documentation and education. The presentation will display the use of 3D laser scanning software and 360 photography to engage the public audience in these forgotten buildings and their place in our nation's history. Highlighting the project's first year accomplishments in documenting these slave cabins and tenant farming structures in the state of Louisiana as well as the project’s evolutionary progression of its second year.

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