HPP Work Weekend Takes on a Historic Mansion in Oneida, New York
For three days in late April, students, faculty, and alumni from the Department of City and Regional Planning embarked on the annual Historic Preservation Planning Work Weekend, led by associate professor and department chair Jeffrey Chusid.
The for-credit outing offers students the opportunity to do hands-on conservation at a historic site and to provide positive and meaningful community impact. This year's destination was the Oneida Community Mansion House located in Oneida, New York. Projects included repair of historic windows, clearing and stabilizing garden paths, documentation and deconstruction of decorative porch railings, prepping exterior wood columns and porches for painting, and faux bois paint conservation on the wainscoting and doorways of the main entry halls.
Originally the home of a religious-based socialist utopian group called the Oneida Community, the 93,000-square-foot, three-story brick residence dates from the mid- and late 19th century. Today, the expanded building is a National Historic Landmark that presents programs, tours, exhibits, and lodging.
According to Chusid, this was one of the most successful work weekends in some time — despite bouts of rain and snow. "The Oneida Community Mansion House is a fascinating site with a wonderful history," he said. "The great diversity of projects available to the students were executed at a high professional level, thanks to a combination of training received on site and commitment to doing great work."
Chusid acknowledged the help of the client, Abigail Lawton, in making the event a success. Lawton is the curator of collections at Oneida Community Mansion House and a former student of the historic preservation program. She also codirected the 2016 work weekend.
Lawton hopes to use the group's work "as a starting point for conversations with visitors and stakeholders about the importance of preservation work generally, and the needs of our site in particular." She appreciated how, in just two days, the students completed work it would have taken maintenance staff weeks to do. "We can’t thank them enough," she said.
For Dorothy Qian (M.R.P./M.L.A. '22) the faux bois conservation project led by Lawton was a highlight of the weekend. "Many of us developed closer friendships and had opportunities to work alongside AAP alums," she said.
"Contributing to the preservation of our historic resources is why we are part of the Historic Preservation Planning program here at Cornell," said Kaitlin Mitchell (M.A. HPP '20), who, along with Allison Turner (M.A. HPP '20), organized this year's event. "We saw an immediate positive impact that everyone involved can be proud of. "
Other Work Weekend participants included:
- Professor Michael Tomlan, director of HPP
- Mehwish Bandealy (M.A. HPP '20)
- Elyse Belarge (M.R.P. '19)
- Elizabeth Burns (M.A. HPP '19)
- Mark Cassidy (M.R.P. '20)
- Shiyuan Chen (M.R.P. '20)
- Louis Chua (M.S. RS '20)
- Naomi Crimm (M.R.P. '20)
- Austen Davis (M.R.P. '20)
- Carolyn Gimbal (M.A. HPP '19)
- Jack Glassman (B.Arch. '80, M.A. HPP '82)
- Andrew Gordon (M.P.S. RE '19)
- Olivia Heckendorf (M.A. HPP '19)
- Joel Hochman (M.R.P. '20)
- Ignatowski Jon (M.R.P. '19)
- Grant Johnson (M.A. HPP '14)
- Sepideh Karimifar (M.A. HPP '20)
- Michael LaFlash (M.A. HPP '19)
- Hannah Miller (M.A. HPP '19)
- Jill Miller (M.A. HPP '19)
- Ethan Potter (M.A. HPP '20)
- Jonathan Rosin (M.R.P. '20)
- Chin Ya Russell (M.R.P. '19)
- Grant Thompson (M.R.P. '19)
- Dylan Tuttle (M.R.P. '17)
- Audrey Wachs (M.R.P. '20)
- Yu Wu (M.R.P./M.L.A. '20)
By Patti Witten