Preservation Practice

Courses offered by the Preservation Studies Program regularly allow students to work on research and planning with local constituencies on projects that vary from year to year. Below are some recent student projects, with links to more information on five of these projects.

Understanding Historic Resources

Drawing on the faculty’s strengths in architectural history, the Program often provides in-depth research and technical expertise on the distinctive resources of New England. Students regularly prepare National Register nominations and study reports for historical commissions, as well as undertake larger-scaled research efforts on individual resources or particular categories of historic resources. In the 1980s and again in the 1990s, the Program undertook multi-year surveys of Massachusetts buildings of the First Period, those constructed between 1620 and 1720. More recently, students have undertaken projects to record and research individual buildings or complexes, including Daniel’s Farm, Blackstone, MA; the Haverhill Historical Society, Haverhill, MA; and the Chestnut Hill Meetinghouse, Millville, MA. As Wakefield Fellows, students in Preservation Studies, American Studies, and Archaeology have participated in a long-term effort to study and document a historic site in Milton, MA, owned by the Wakefield Charitable Trust.

Community Planning

A long-standing effort in the Program has been to provide students with hands-on experience working with local government, neighborhood groups, and property owners to analyze and recommend preservation strategies. Recent projects capture the diversity of these efforts: a neighborhood study for Cochituate Village in Wayland, a local historic district study report for Newtonville, a preservation plan for municipally owned properties in Newton, a handbook for property owners in Boston’s Woodbourne neighborhood, and a cultural resource management plan for Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Threatened Resources

Threatened resources galvanize preservationists to research and action. Under the direction of Program faculty, students have opportunities to participate in well-organized efforts to halt deterioration or destruction and to plan for preservation and new uses. Recently, students have helped to rescue and adapt several properties in Portsmouth, NH, including Creek Farm.

Adaptive Use

Since the Program began, students have engaged in team efforts to imagine new uses for old buildings, create a financial pro forma, and occasionally follow the project into construction. These have included some of the most difficult to develop properties in Boston, such as the Allen House (since rehabilitated by the City) and an unused sub-station in Roslindale Village. Most recently a team of students assisted Elaine Finbury in the nomination and tax act certification of the conversion of the Boston YWCA into affordable housing.