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 following text is an excerpt from Professor Marshall’s successful application for the 2013 Elisabeth Walton Potter Research Award:
“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?
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.”
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.
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.
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!