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Field School in Vernacular Architecture

January 16, 2011

Field School in Vernacular Architecture

University of Wisconsin-Madison & Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures Program (UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee)

Summer 2011 June 13 –July 8

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

This summer, our focus will be on the domestic landscape of the 3rd Lake Ridge Neighborhood in Madison. The neighborhood was the site of some of the earliest pioneer settlement in the City. Located on the northern shores of Lake Monona (or the surveyor’s “3rd Lake”), the neighborhood contains a sizable collection of antebellum houses as well as an excellent assortment of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century dwellings, commercial structures, and industrial buildings. Our focus will be on documenting the dominant vernacular housing types, including the upright and wing, Italianate, vernacular prairie houses, and an assortment of other Victorian types (including multi-family Queen Anne flats). Oral history research will also be done to document the shirting occupants of these buildings and how they moved through the neighborhood. This is in keeping with the dominant theme of the 2012 Madison VAF tour, which explores the relationship of domestic life to workspaces. The class will work in partnership with the 3rd Lake Ridge Neighborhood Association and the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation; our findings will be made available to these organizations for dissemination on their webpages.

The hands-on workshop format includes an initial week working on background research and introducing recording techniques and methods for interpreting building fabric. The second week will be spent in gathering data in the field (with the assistance of Prof. Tom Carter from the University of Utah, School of Architecture). The third and final weeks will focus on consolidating and interpreting the data gathered in the field.
Equipment and some supplies will be provided, but students must be able to find their own lodging in Madison and purchase some supplies and books. Some expenses for this course have been provided courtesy of the Chipstone Foundation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. UW-Madison will allow students from outside the University to register under special status.

For more information, please contact Prof. Anna Andrzejewski at

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


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