Blog of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office

How to cure the wintertime preservation blues?

As the days get shorter, the nights get longer and the threat of snowfall sends weather forecasters, school district superintendents and milk delivery truck drivers into a maddening frenzy, many people start complaining about the winter blues. You know that time of year – when one is frigid and dim due to the lack of heat and light – and the full effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are on display – you find yourself sleeping more, eating more and avoiding social contact!

Well you know what?  Even those eternally optimistic historic preservationists out there come down with the wintertime preservation blues.

Though I do not have a magic potion to fight off the malaise of a miserable December day of cold rain and snow, I can suggest a “historic preservation” light at the end of that winter tunnel –

A Historic Preservation Summer Field School on the historic island of Nantucket, Massachusetts!

Brant Point Lighthouse was documented by participants in the Preservation Institute: Nantucket in 1998

Brant Point Lighthouse was documented by participants in the Preservation Institute: Nantucket in 1998


If you did not know, the award winning Bucks County Community College Historic Preservation Program will be offering 2 one-week hands-on classes in August 2014 a the Preservation Institute: Nantucket – a World heritage Research and Stewardship Center owned by the University of Florida.

I cannot think of a better image to pull me through the depths of the winter blues than spending a week or two on the beautiful island of Nantucket.  Nantucket holds one of America’s outstanding inventories of 18th and 19th-century architecture with more than 800 structures predating the American Civil War era. Islanders created one of the first historic districts in the United States and the entire island is now a National Historical Landmark.

The first week of BCCC’s summer field school is a Historic American Building Survey (HABS) Workshop to prepare archival documentation of a landmark Nantucket Beach Shake building.  Participants will learn proper field measuring techniques and basic drafting skills to create hand-rendered measuring drawings to create permanent documentation of the building.  Over the past 18 years, I have participated in four HABS recordation projects with BCCC so I can highly recommend the value of the program.  Each project has added to my professional development in historic preservation with an increased understanding of construction typology and the value of proper documentation skills.   Our team projects received numerous Charles E. Peterson prizes, including First Prize in 2008 for the Best Farm, Stone Barn in Frederick, MD, though my favorite project was at the Meadowbrook Farm, Slifer Log Kitchen in Springtown, Bucks County, PA. Here is a photo of the building and corresponding drawing from that project:

HABS Slifer photoHABS Slifer elevation


The second week of the workshop uses the island of Nantucket as a preservation laboratory by comparing the various preservation philosophies and tools used by Nantucket and municipalities in Bucks County to preserve historic resources. Participants will compare and contrast the preservation successes and failures of Bucks County and Nantucket Island.

Classroom space is in Sherburne Hall – an 1846 Greek Revival Odd Fellows Hall in the center of Nantucket Town – that was restored in 1987 for Preservation Institute: Nantucket with a studio space, classrooms, studio drafting tables, library and kitchen.  Participants are housed in a University of Florida-owned dormitory located less than a mile from the studio.

Nantucket DormsNantucket Sherburne Hall

So, if you think a few weeks in Nantucket may be a cure for those wintertime preservation blues, you can get full program details on Bucks County Community Colleges summer field schools website.

1 Comment

  1. Alison Ross

    Thanks, Scott, this definitely helps with my wintertime HP blues….for years I have wanted to get involved in a HABS recordation project but didn’t know how to go about it…did not know about the BCCC summer field school either…thanks for the ideas …summer is right around the corner! – Alison Ross

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