Posts Tagged ‘Elisabeth Walton Potter Research Award’

The Marion Dean Ross Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians is inviting applications for the 2014 Elisabeth Walton Potter Research Award.  Awards range from $500 to $2000 for research that furthers awareness and knowledge of architectural heritage in the Pacific Northwest.  The application deadline for the 2014 award is July 31, 2014.  For more information and an application, please visit the SAH MDR website at: http://www.sahmdr.org/awards.html.

Last year’s two award recipients were Professor Anne L. Marshall, PhD, of the University of Idaho; and Liz Carter, Preservation Consultant and Adjunct Faculty at the University of Oregon.

The Elisabeth Walton Potter Award was given to Anne Marshall to expand on her research into culturally appropriate architectures that meet the needs of contemporary Indigenous communities.  The project began as Professor Marshall’s dissertation, “Indigenous Architecture: Envisioning, Designing, and Building The Museum At Warm Springs,” and will culminate in the publication of a book.  Anne Marshall has presented her findings at numerous conferences and professional gatherings, including at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Marion Dean Ross Chapter of the SAH in Spokane.  She is also scheduled to be a speaker at our 2014 meeting in Seattle.

The Museum at Warm Springs Entrance.  Photo by Anne Marshall.

The Museum at Warm Springs Entrance. Photo by Anne Marshall.

The following text is an excerpt from Professor Marshall’s successful application for the 2013 Elisabeth Walton Potter Research Award:

The Museum at Warm Springs: Exterior of changing exhibits gallery, dance plaza, and administration wing.  Photo by Anne Marshall.

The Museum at Warm Springs: Exterior of changing exhibits gallery, dance plaza, and administration wing. Photo by Anne Marshall.

 “It is not clear how to design culturally appropriate architectures that meet the needs of contemporary Indigenous communities.  Although historical forms may have some cultural relevance, they do not necessarily represent who an Indigenous group is today and they are unlikely to accommodate contemporary building programs.  Because few Indigenous people practice architecture, many Indigenous clients hire design professionals from outside of their communities.  Fundamental differences in world views, ways of thinking, and modes of communication challenge both Indigenous clients and their architects.  How do Indigenous clients and their designers overcome these challenges?

Changing exhibits gallery, ceiling detail.  Photo by Anne Marshall.

Changing exhibits gallery, ceiling detail. Photo by Anne Marshall.

Research thus far suggests that collaboration—within the interdisciplinary design team and between Tribal members and designers—proved to be key to the success of this project.  A one-week on-site design workshop allowed time for Tribal members and designers to develop trust, communicate, and work collaboratively.  The workshop allowed time for designers to recognize the primacy of storytelling which became the conceptual foundation for the landscape design.  The natural world was the inspiration for the building design.  Architects sought to design a building that represented the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and they did this by using forms, materials, and colors from the landscape along with forms alluding to traditional buildings.”

Liz Carter was an Elisabeth Walton Potter award recipient for her project titled “Mid-nineteenth Century Dwellings of Oregon’s Black Pioneers: A Brief Historical Context.”  Liz was an intensive participant at the 2013 SAH MDR meeting in Salem, providing the contextual backbone for the opening night’s panel discussion on Pioneer Era Homesteads, and presenting a paper on the following day.  Her research on African-American pioneers is already reaching out to wider audiences.  At the 2014 Oregon Heritage Conference a collaboration between the Oregon Black Pioneers (OBP), a non-profit group, and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) was announced.  The goal of this project is to expand the data in the Oregon Historic Sites database to include more comprehensive information about the early African-American experience in Oregon though formal scholarship as well as crowd sourcing.  For more on the project, visit the OBP blog, find forms to contribute information at http://makeoregonhistory.org/, and to see the results to date, check the Oregon Historic Sites Database and search for “African-Americans in Oregon, 2014” under “Group Name.”

Gorman House - 1-story section is circa 1857, 1.5 story section is circa 1866.  Photo by Liz Carter.

Gorman House – 1-story section is circa 1857, 1.5 story section is circa 1866. Photo by Liz Carter.

From the application:

” The African-American pioneer story in Oregon is not widely known, and scholarship on associated buildings and sites is minimal.  Few are aware that there are several identified sites, including a small handful of mid-nineteenth century houses still standing, with inextricable links to the important and under-recognized aspect of Oregon’s history.  While the general histories may have been explored to varying degrees, the study and research of buildings in terms of who built them, the social circumstances of their construction, potential provenance, and/or similarities in form or method of construction to dwellings in the east have not been clearly addressed.  Two examples are described below.

Interior of Gorman House with  original fireplace/chimney of hand-made bricks and mud mortar. Photo by Liz Carter

Interior of Gorman House with
original fireplace/chimney of hand-made bricks and mud mortar. Photo by Liz Carter

The circa 1856-1866 Hannah and Eliza Gorman House in Corvallis is perhaps the oldest residence remaining in Oregon with direct ties to people who were brought to the territory as slaves, but there are others throughout western Oregon.  The Gorman house story is unusual in that it appears to have been constructed by Hannah and Eliza Gorman, former slaves, in a time when property ownership by people of color was illegal in Oregon.  The oldest portion of the house displays some similarity to single-pen slave dwellings found east of the Mississippi.  The Cora Cox House outside of Brownsville, dated to circa 1864, was also constructed for and owned by a former slave woman.  The land on which the house was built was sold to Cora by her former owner for the sum of $10, and it is presumed that construction followed soon thereafter.  The designer and/or builder is not currently known.

Cora Cox House, Brownsville.  Photo from http://makeoregonhistory.org/

Cora Cox House, Brownsville. Photo from http://makeoregonhistory.org/

Both buildings have been the subjects of study by University of Oregon students in recent years.  At the Gorman House, student work focused largely on exploring the building and making preliminary determinations about historical archaeological potential on the site.  In addition, the property owner has done fairly extensive genealogical research (to the degree possible) on Hannah and Eliza Gorman.  The building itself was analyzed by Mary Gallagher and Philip Dole over ten years ago, and subsequent analyses have brought a better understanding of the building’s construction history in terms of chronology, but not in terms of potential “ethnic signatures” that may be inherent in the building’s design, materials or construction.  The Cora Cox House was the subject of National Register-level research and documentation, but a detailed analysis of its construction was not undertaken.  Neither building has been discussed or studied within a broader context of African-American, slave or former-slave architecture in Oregon.  In order to better understand these buildings and others with similar histories, a wider view of the historical and architectural context in which they were created is needed.”

The SAH MDR board and members congratulate the 2013 Elisabeth Walton Potter Award recipients and thanks all who applied for their excellent proposals.  We look forward to reviewing another batch of interesting research topics in 2014!



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The Marion Dean Ross Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians is inviting applications for the 2013 Elisabeth Walton Potter Research Award.  Awards range from $500-$2000 for research that furthers awareness and knowledge of architectural heritage in the Pacific Northwest.  The Application deadline for the 2013 award is July 1, 2013.

For a summary of last year’s award winners, click here.

For an application for the 2013 Award, click here.

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Holly Taylor

Grange halls in Washington will get closer look this summer, through an Elisabeth Walton Potter Research Award given to Holly Taylor of Washington.  A graduate student at the University of Washington, Holly will conduct research on these ubiquitous but relatively undocumented vernacular buildings for her master’s thesis in Architecture History and Theory.

Grange halls are located in historic farming regions throughout Washington State. Map courtesy of the Washington State Grange.

Her proposal noted that Washington State retains the highest grange membership in the U.S., with over 300 local granges remaining active in the 21st century.  Most local chapters serve as stewards for century-old meeting halls.  One reason grange halls have received little attention from scholars?  They are difficult to categorize as a building type – some were originally constructed as schools or churches and later converted to grange use, while others were built as grange halls, often by local volunteers on donated land using donated materials.We tend to think of adaptive reuse as a contemporary urban phenomenon, but this study may document an interesting pattern of architectural recycling linked to historical shifts such as rural school consolidation.  While many grange halls have been modified over the years, they still represent a significant element of the built environment in rural communities, based on their ongoing use as community meeting places and event venues.

Deer Lagoon Grange #846 in Island County was originally constructed in 1904 as a church. Photo courtesy of Deer Lagoon Grange.

Documentation and preservation of rural buildings faces many challenges in Washington, partly because only seven of the state’s 39 counties are Certified Local Governments and therefore eligible to apply to the SHPO for survey funding and related work.  Holly’s research will include consideration of preservation planning issues, and she will also draw on her background in cultural anthropology to document the vital role of grange halls in contemporary rural communities.

Holly writes, “I really appreciate the Marion Dean Ross Chapter’s support for this research project.  The Elisabeth Walton Potter award will make it possible to visit and photograph grange halls all over Washington State, talk with stewards of these buildings, and do archival research to document building and community histories.”  She hopes to present preliminary findings at the November 2012 SAH MDR conference in Spokane.

Tualco Grange #284 in Snohomish County was originally constructed as a school in 1907. Photo by Holly Taylor.

In addition to being a graduate student in the Architecture Department at the University of Washington, Holly is the principal of Past Forward Northwest Cultural Services, a consulting business established in 2003 specializing in cultural tourism and historic preservation projects in the Pacific Northwest.  Examples of her work include the Destination Heritage guide series for 4Culture and King County, a National Register MPD for the Historic Barns of Washington State, and a forthcoming historic context study of Seattle’s Duwamish Industrial Area.  Prior to establishing Past Forward, she served as heritage program coordinator for the King County Landmarks Commission.  She lives on Vashon Island, and may be reached by email at holly at pastforwardnw.com

Text by Holly Taylor.

Happy Valley Grange #322 in King County was constructed as a grange hall in 1910. Photo courtesy of the Sammamish Heritage Society.

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The Executive Board of the Marion Dean Ross Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians is pleased to announce four recipients for the first annual Elisabeth Walton Potter Research Award (EWPRA).  With several excellent proposals for review, the board elected to award the full funding requested by two applicants, with an additional two awards of merit, entailing partial funding.

Full funding was granted to Holly Taylor of Washington and Hussein Keshani of British Columbia.  Ms. Taylor’s project, Grange Halls in Washington State: Field Survey and Archival Research deals with the buildings of the 310 active granges in Washington State.  The Order of the Patrons of Husbandry, known informally as the Grange, is a national farm-based fraternal organization founded in 1867.  A variety of publications describe the founding and history of the Grange as a national organization, however little attention has been paid to the grange halls themselves.  This study will contribute to the understanding of architecture in the Pacific Northwest through documentation of building plan sources, development of a typology, and analysis of changes over time of these historic resources which continue to play an active role in many communities.

Hussein Keshani’s proposal is titled Doctrine and Design in Islamic Centers of the Pacific Northwest.  Religious architecture is a substantive part of urban landscapes. While there is considerable scholarship available on the architectural history of Christianity in North America, fewer studies focus on the architectural expressions of religious minorities such as Muslims, especially the role played by differing Islamic religious doctrines such as Sunni, Shia, and Sufi.  This project examines the role of distinct Islamic doctrines in the design and use of six contemporary, purpose-built Islamic centers in the greater Vancouver and Seattle area.  In addition to expanding the discourse on Pacific Northwest architectural history, the study hopes to address contemporary misunderstandings, and in some cases fear, of Muslims thorough a better understanding of the built environments Muslim communities create.

Tyler Sprague of Washington and Kathryn Sears of Oregon were the recipients of awards of merit.  Tyler Sprague’s research proposal, A Preservation Survey of Hyperbolic Paraboloids in the Pacific Northwest, expands on the work he presented at the MDR/SAH Annual Meeting in Boise.  Hyperbolic paraboloids are emblematic of the spirit and aspirations of the Pacific Northwest during a significant period of growth following World War II.  Most of these structures are now close to fifty years old and many are threatened by demolition due to development and changing societal needs.  This proposal seeks to better understand the architecture and engineering of the post-war era, document significant works and the personalities that were responsible for creating them, and raise a preservation-minded awareness of these distinct structures.

Katheryn Sears’ proposal is titled The Northwest School: Northwest Regional Style and the University of Oregon.  From the 1940s through the 1960s, academic architecture programs in the Pacific Northwest fostered a consistent brand of regional modernism practiced by a relatively cohesive group of architects.  Previously published materials primarily focused on education at the University of Washington and the Vancouver School of British Columbia, while relatively few have addressed the University of Oregon’s contributions to the movement.  In an effort to address this imbalance in the understanding and appreciation of the Northwest Regional Style, Ms. Sears project will combine archival research with field-based observations and interviews with educators, architects, and builders.

The MDR/SAH Board of Directors thanks all of the applicants for the first annual Elisabeth Walton Potter Research Award for their submissions and congratulates the award recipients.  We look forward to more excellent submissions in 2013 and hope to continue this program for many years to come.

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