Students gain hands-on experience in interior architecture’s Preservation Field School
Restoring gravestones in an old fishing village on the Outer Banks of North Carolina – it’s not your typical classroom experience. But for 10 students in UNC Greensboro’s IAR 555 (Field Methods in Preservation Technology), the three-week field school was transformative.
“The skills gained from field school are immediately applicable to my life, and I have already put some of them to use only four days after leaving,” said Morgan Duhan, who is working on a post-baccalaureate certificate in historic preservation. “This experience has created a solid toolkit of skills that have boosted my confidence in being able to enter the historic preservation field.”
Duhan was one of six graduate and four undergraduate students who traveled with interior architecture (IARc) professor Jo Leimenstoll to the remote Portsmouth Island – part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore, just south of Ocracoke Island – to work with restoration craftspeople on restoring historic properties. The project was in partnership with the National Park Service, which covered the cost of building materials, supplies and honorariums.
The course was first offered in 2001 and continues to build on the partnerships it has cultivated with Old Salem Museums and Gardens and Historic Bethabara Park in Winston-Salem, the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office in Raleigh and various local preservation groups.
While each year reflects changes in the specifics of the field school, the core experience remains one of immersion in the craft of preservation as students engage in hewing logs, splitting shingles, planing moldings, repointing brick, plastering walls, cutting slate, installing wood shingle roofs, consolidating deteriorated wood, reglazing windows, forging iron and analyzing paint finishes.
Students spent the first week at Old Salem and Historic Bethabara working with skilled tradesmen to gain a hands-on understanding of traditional technologies for woodworking, blacksmithing, and masonry and plastering techniques. The second and third week built on the first as students moved from traditional technologies to current best practices for restoration work on actual projects in need of stabilization and repair.
(UNCG Now, 6/19/18)