Annual Work Weekend Takes CRP Students to Pennsylvania
In April, Associate Professor Jeffrey Chusid and a group of more than 30 graduate students in CRP spent a long weekend in Port Allegany, Pennsylvania, working at Lynn Hall, a National Historic Register Property, for the annual Historic Preservation Planning (HPP) Work Weekend.
"Work Weekend was originally begun by HPP alumni as a way to reconnect with the program while doing hands-on work on a historic site,"says Chusid. "Over the years, it has become an increasingly important part of the program curriculum, both because it gives the students the opportunity to organize and manage a complex preservation project with faculty guidance, and because it satisfies a need felt by many in the ivory tower to take a break from writing and theory and focus on the physical challenges of fixing a site."
In addition to the HPP students, many students in the department's Master of Regional Planning program participated in Work Weekend. Dylan Tuttle (M.R.P. '17) noted, "I expect to work with preservationists in some way during my career, and greater knowledge of the reality of working on a historic building makes me a better partner in preservation practice and policy."
Lynn Hall was selected as the site for the annual Work Weekend during the spring semester Planning and Preservation Practice class, in which the students are encouraged to choose a site of historical significance that presents unique practical challenges. Completed in the 1930s, Lynn Hall stands in contrast to typically selected 18th- or 19th-century structures for its design and particular place in modern architectural history. After the site was chosen, two HPP students — Abigail Lawton (M.A. HPP '17) and Brian Cooley (M.A. HPP '17) — consulted with Chusid and the building owners, Gary and Sue DeVore, on logistics, specific work projects, and the program schedule.
While at Lynn Hall, the participants' list of projects included re-roofing, water feature repair, cork panel installation, stone terrace work, and tuck pointing an artisan-designed stone wall. The DeVores estimated that the students' work cut six months from the restoration schedule for the building, as well as providing professional guidance and suggestions.
For students, the weekend provided both practical experience and an opportunity to work in the field alongside peers in the department. "Beyond getting our hands dirty, we were in a small space with 30 to 40 people for three days with the same goal," says Erin Frederickson (M.A. HPP '17). "It was a great chance to meet and get to know other students in the department. By the end, everyone was proud of the of the work we'd done, and everyone made a few new friends."
This year the group was joined by HPP director and professor Michael Tomlan, and HPP alumnus Mahyar Hadighi (M.A. HPP '14), who completed a master's thesis on Raymond Vinner Hall, the architect for Lynn Hall. Also visiting the project were the head of the HPP alumni organization, Katelin Olson (M.A. HPP '09); and former HPP student Natalie Franz.
Previous locations for Work Weekend have included Ellis Island, New Orleans, West Virginia, and Massachusetts, among many others.
By Edith Fikes