Preservation Studies Courses


Graduate students may not take courses below the 500 level for credit.

Required Core Courses

AM 546 – Places of Memory: Historic Preservation Theory and Practice, Bluestone. This seminar  covers key aspects of the history, theory, and practice of historic preservation. Preservation will be discussed in the context of cultural history and the changing relationship between existing buildings and landscapes and attitudes toward history, memory, invented tradition, and place. Course scrutinizes disparate forms of preservation including natural conservation, building restoration, green urbanism, monument and memorial construction, rituals of ancestor worship, design philosophies related to additions and historic context, and strategies for rebuilding after war. Also offered as MET UA 546. This course is usually the first course taken in the Program and is offered annually during the fall semester.

AM 553 Documenting Historic Buildings and Landscapes , Dempsey. This seminar course is designed to train students in architectural research techniques through supervised reading, fieldwork, and writing. Course work introduces students to the skills needed to conduct research on both individual resources and groups of resources, clustered within an area or scattered throughout a community. Emphasizing efficiency and reliability in its consideration of sources and methods, discussion helps students develop reasonable research designs and carefully evaluate evidence. To test the approaches and sample the sources introduced during the semester, students in the seminar participate in a research project to document a particular building or group of buildings. This course is offered annually during the spring semester.

AM 747 Building Conservation, TBA. This course introduces students to the goals and methods of building conservation, that aspect within the broader field of preservation that focuses on efforts to extend the lives of historic structures. Much of the course focuses on a consideration of materials, their deterioration, and the various options available for their repair, including a series of lectures focused on particular building materials and technologies. Field trips provide hands-on experience with building inspection, fabric analysis in the field and in the lab, and case studies of conservation challenges. In addition, students consider the various types and degrees of intervention undertaken by conservators and debate their relative value. This course is offered regularly during the spring semester.

AM 754 Preservation & Planning, Dray. This class covers the role of historic preservation planning at the national, state, regional, and local level, putting preservation planning both in an historical context and in the context of the larger field of planning.  The course will provide a survey of the theories and tools available to historic preservation planners to protect cultural resources at all levels of government and in the private sector, whether the context be urban, suburban, or rural, and whether the resource be a component of the built environment or other cultural heritage resource.  Students will also examine local dynamics that affect the stability of neighborhoods, considering the effects of economic, planning, political, and social patterns.  Students will complete a neighborhood preservation plan, developing objectives based upon an identification of cultural resources, and an implementation strategy utilizing preservation and other land uses tools.

AM 759 Financing for Historic Preservation, TBA. Begin with a vision of preserving a landmark and adding to the vitality of a community. To succeed, you must realistically assess the feasibility of your vision. A feasibility analysis generally organizes itself into three categories: the physical aspects, markets and income, and financing and valuation. This course focuses on how one determines value and potential income and how to translate that income into financing. The course examines how income and cost tie themselves together through debt and equity and what measures of return are utilized to determine if a project is financially feasible. This course is offered regularly during the fall semester.

Preservation Studies Electives

AM 524 New England’s Cultural Landscape, Dempsey. This course examines the historic forces that have shaped our distinctive regional landscape and catalogues the changing forms that make up that landscape. Beginning in the early colonial period, course readings and discussion are organized chronologically to consider how human activity affects the natural as well as the cultural environment and how each new development interacts with the existing landscape, preserving some features while altering and destroying others. Within each historic period, the course considers landscapes large and small and associated with home, work, and public life, focusing primarily on rural, small-town, and residential neighborhood landscapes in towns and cities. Readings are selected from the fields of social and cultural history, cultural geography, and architectural history, giving students an opportunity for interdisciplinary reading, discussion, and research.

AM 730 Seminar in American Architecture, Dempsey. This occasional research seminar addresses changing topics on the study of buildings and historic landscapes.

AM 748 Seminar in Adaptive Use, TBA.  Prereq: AM 751.  The adaptive reuse seminar builds on the information, concepts, and knowledge gained in AM 751 Financing Historic Preservation. A small group of students who are interested in real estate development will work on a case study selected by the professor. The historic building that is chosen will be complex, and students will further enhance their knowledge of deal structuring, finance, tax credit syndication, both process and placement, market analysis and financial analysis. This course is offered as necessary during the fall semester.

AM 750 Neighborhood Conservation, TBA. In this course students examine local dynamics that affect the stability of neighborhoods, considering the effects of economic, planning, political, and social patterns. Students learn how to identify, evaluate, and protect historic resources that define the character of a neighborhood. Students complete a neighborhood study that includes the community’s history, its socio-economic and demographic characteristics, the present land use and condition of properties, the public services available to the neighborhood residents, and the issues confronting the neighborhood as identified by local groups and institutions. Once the character of a neighborhood is defined and understood, students explore preservation strategies available to assist in stabilizing and preserving neighborhoods. This course is offered regularly during the fall semester.

AM 755 Colloquium in Preservation Planning, TBA. This course may be the finale of the master’s program for those who intend to pursue a career in preservation planning. It is an opportunity to pull together the various planning tools available to identify, evaluate, and protect cultural resources. A group project exposes students to the various aspects of planning and allows them to accomplish a finite goal within the planning process. Past classes have developed preservation plans for communities or for specific resources. Readings and class discussion reach beyond the specific project to include the tools, the philosophy, and the purpose of preservation planning, how preservation becomes part of the overall planning process, and the role of preservation planning in growth management. This course is offered as necessary during the spring semester.

AM 765 Readings in American Vernacular Architecture, Dempsey. This seminar provides an opportunity to examine influential interpretive frameworks employed in the study of American buildings and the historic landscape, examples of the approach known as vernacular architecture. This approach emphasizes social and cultural forces in the production, use, and understanding of the built environment and examines innovative and interdisciplinary studies that have resulted in a reinterpretation of the forms and meanings of the American landscape. Each semester the course focuses on recent scholarship to examine how a number of authors have contributed to changing definitions, methods, and theories.

AM 780 Problems in Historic Preservation, TBA. This is an advanced seminar that addresses current topics in preservation practice. It has ranged over the years from seminars on the Colonial Revival Movement’s relation to preservation and new design to the Boston area’s industrial architecture for the Society of Architectural Historians series Buildings of the United States. More recently, seminars have been devoted to current threats and opportunities, including case studies of the New Hampshire Forest Society’s Creek Farm in Little Harbor, NH, and the Pearl Street Church, an African-American associated site in Portsmouth, NH.

Electives Offered by Affiliated Departments

Students in the Preservation Studies Program also take courses in other departments with affiliated faculty. Some of the courses commonly taken by students are listed below, along with links to the department webpages.


AR 570 Approaches to Artifact Analysis in Historical Archaeology, Beaudry.

AR 572 Studies in Industrial Archaeology, Beaudry.

AR 770 New World Historical Archaeology: Colonial America, Beaudry.

AR 775 Oral History and Written Records in Archaeology, Beaudry.
AR 780 Ethics and Law in Archaeology, Elia.

AR 805 Archaeological Heritage Management, Elia.

Art History

AH 520 The Museum and the Historical Agency, Hall.

AH 570 Early American Architecture, Dempsey. This course may be used to satisfy the architectural history distribution requirement.

AH 580 Architectural Technology & Materials, Brown.

AH 782 Nineteenth-Century Architecture, Morgan. This course may be used to satisfy the architectural history distribution requirement and meets with AH 382.

AH 884 Seminar in Nineteenth-Century Architecture, Morgan. This course may be used to satisfy the architectural history distribution requirement.


JD 891 Historic Preservation Law, Freeman.  An interdisciplinary seminar that explores legal issues encountered in the preservation, conservation, and management of historic buildings, neighborhoods, and districts. The relative utility of traditional legal techniques (such as land use planning devices, transfer of development rights, zoning, easements, revolving trusts, leasehold covenants and financing) will be carefully analyzed; the policies and impact of federal, state and local taxation policies, including federal historic tax credits and the Community Preservation Act in Massachusetts, will be examind; and possible new approaches will be considered. Incorporating students from related disciplines into the seminar allows the interface of law, economics, planning, design review, and architectural history to be analyzed from a variety of perspectives, reflecting the practical concerns of client and community.  In most semesters, students are involved in role-playing a real world case study. Offered alternate years during the fall semester.

Metropolitan College, Department of City Planning and Urban Affairs