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Historic Preservation at the University of Maryland Encourages Diversity
Christine R. Henry and Dr. Don Linebaugh, University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation

The Historic Preservation program at the University of Maryland is dedicated to diversity throughout its program of study. Housed in the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, the program’s strength lies in its multi-disciplinary approach to studying and preserving the built environment. Students of many backgrounds and academic approaches master the skills of understanding, conserving, interpreting, and sharing the historic environment at scales from the local to the global. Students also grapple with questions of diversity in the historic record, confronting problems of minority participation and representation in mainstream historic preservation efforts.

The historic preservation certificate program was created in 1986 to complement programs in Anthropology, American Studies, History, Architecture, and Planning, with coursework to prepare students to manage historic resources. Demand for the program steadily grew so that by 1990 there was an average of 15 students enrolled in the certificate program. Interest was building among students and preservation groups across the state for a more in-depth course of study, and in 2002 the University of Maryland welcomed its first class of students into the new master’s of historic preservation (MHP) program. While most programs specialize in design, architectural history, or material conservation, Maryland’s program was created to serve the field’s need for generalists to mediate between specialists. Coursework balances academic research with professional training in documentation, policy, and interpretation to prepare students to participate in the many aspects of contemporary preservation practice. The historic preservation program also participates with the programs of architecture, planning, and real estate in offering dual masters degrees that build on and complement connections among the disciplines.

Students learning the fundamentals of ornamental plaster techniques on a tour of Hayles and Howe Ornamental Plasterwork and Scagliola Company, Baltimore, Maryland.

Located within five miles of the nation’s capital, the University of Maryland, College Park offers access to many national, regional, and local preservation organizations that enrich students understanding of public policy and its implications for historic preservation. Hornbake Library, just off the main campus mall, houses the National Trust for Historic Preservation Library, the foremost collection of preservation literature and archives in the country. Comprised of over 18,000 volumes and 300 periodicals, the collections include papers and volumes donated by pioneers in the field: the Charles E. Peterson Archive and Library of Early American Building Technology and Historic Preservation holds the personal collection of Mr. Peterson, an architectural historian, restorationist, and planner who began his career as part of the original staff of the Historic American Building Survey in 1933, and went on to become a charter member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and founding member of the Association for Preservation Technology. The Charles B. Hosmer Collection includes biographical notes, interview tapes and transcripts, research notes and notebooks, manuscript drafts, photocopies of correspondence of late 19th- and early 20th-century preservationists, journal and newspaper articles as well as book chapters on various preservation topics he used to write his two seminal books on the historic of the preservation movement, Presence of the Past: the History of the Preservation Movement in the United States before Williamsburg and Preservation Comes of Age: from Williamsburg to the National Trust, 1926-1949. This incredible research repository provides students with unparalleled resources in the field of preservation.

The University’s proximity to Washington, DC, also allows the staff of many organizations such as the National Trust and the National Park Service to serve as guest lecturers and adjunct faculty for the program. For example, the Preservation Law course, a core requirement for the certificate in preservation as well as the MHP degree, is taught by Thompson Mayes, JD, Deputy General Counsel at the National Trust. Mayes’ colleagues in the Trust’s legal department guest lecture on their areas of specialty, providing students with both a national and local perspective on preservation law and its application in order to prepare them for the complexities of historic preservation in the 21st century. Another required course, Preservation Policy and Planning, is taught by Dr. Constance Ramirez, Director of the Federal Preservation Institute at the National Park Service. Dr. Ramirez shares decades of experience at various federal agencies and gives students an insider’s perspective on national preservation policies and politics.

Students also benefit from access to a plethora of preservation organizations—local, state, and federal— when completing a mandatory internship as part of the master’s degree program. During this semester-long program, usually undertaken between the summer of the first and second year, preservation students learn to apply their preservation knowledge and skills from experienced practitioners in real-world settings. Internships have ranged from building conservation and documentation at Lincoln Cottage to intense historical research for the Treasury Department. While as individual as the students who complete them, these internships all serve to present the myriad ways preservationists endeavor to research, conserve, and share our built heritage.

Student working on historic window repair during internship at the Historic Preservation Training Center in Frederick, Maryland.

The program’s multi-disciplinary approach to preservation is also supported by numerous University departments. Partnering with American Studies, Anthropology, History, and Landscape Architecture, the program gives students the opportunity to take classes in which they can explore literary and artistic expressions of cultural landscapes, participate in archaeological digs at nearby historic sites, conduct in-depth historical research, and delve into the documentary records of the past. In the spring of 2006, a team of students led by Dr. Don Linebaugh, Director of the preservation program, prepared an Archaeological Overview and Preservation Plan for Tudor Place Historic House and Garden as part of a class on the role of archaeology in preservation practice. This professional report will assist the museum in managing its considerable archaeological resources as part of a holistic site management plan. The preservation program also collaborates with other programs within the School, providing cross-fertilization among the fields of planning, real estate development, and architecture. This collaborative approach gives students unique insight into such key preservation issues as adaptive reuse and sustainability. In the spring of 2010, Dr. B.D. Wortham-Galvin led an interdisciplinary group of students in investigating cultural sustainability in a small town on Maryland’s eastern shore. The resulting report made recommendations to the community for utilizing preservation as a tool to generate dynamic growth and change.

One of the core courses students must complete for the master’s degree is titled Ethnic and Social Issues in Historic Preservation. In the fall of 2009, the school partnered with the nearby community of Lakeland, a predominantly African American neighborhood where much of the built heritage was destroyed or severely altered during urban renewal. Dr. Mary Corbin-Sies guided students in learning to rethink and reorient research and methods to project socially just, inclusive, and equitable scholarly practice. Producing a professional report on the history of settlement, people, organizations, housing and employment, students challenged status quo thinking about preservation. Complementary efforts by students in the core historic preservation documentation course that same fall semester led by Dr. Linebaugh, prepared Maryland Historic Trust inventory forms to document resources that had disappeared from the community landscape. This semester’s emphasis on vernacular architecture allowed students to experience preservation as a way to help minority communities tell their stories.

Vernacular architecture students documenting historic St. Patrick’s Chapel in Conowingo, Maryland with assistance from UMD ’54 star quarterback Jack Scarbath.

Students in the program also participate in a rigorous hands-on studio project in their second year. Choosing among diverse communities around the state, students work closely with residents to apply their skills to solve a particular and vital preservation problem. Students from a wide range of backgrounds and academic disciplines work in close-knit teams to produce detailed, professional quality plans for the integration of historic resources into people’s daily lives. One team of students worked with residents of Hyattsville, Maryland, a close-in suburb of Washington, to create a style guide for the city’s historic district. This guide, which documents and explains the multiple styles and key features of the district’s buildings, enables residents to preserve essential historic characteristics when maintaining or adding on to their homes. (see ) Another team focused on the historic Port Towns, a group of four industrial towns located on the Anacostia River. Working with the Port Towns Community Development Corporation students identified significant historic resources that will dovetail and drive ongoing social and economic development efforts in the area. (see )

Each master’s degree student must complete a focused final project investigating one of the myriad aspects of values-based preservation practice. In the spring of 2006, Cory Herrala presented an investigation of economic barriers to historic preservation in his paper “Flexibility in Mind: Alternative Design Guidelines for Economically Challenged Historic Neighborhoods “ (see For her final project in 2008, Najah Duvall-Gabriel examined preservation planning of African-American historic resources in Prince George’s County, Maryland (see which focused on a neglected aspect of the county history. Also in 2008, Beibei Su analyzed the impact of large development projects on vernacular resources in “Keeping the Charm of Peking: Promoting Preservation through the Beijing Olympics” (see In spring of 2009, Karen Gurman examined multifaceted roles of an 18th-century plantation house museum in downtown Baltimore in her project “The Importance of Being Relevant: Understanding the Complex Connections between Museum and Community” (see

University of Maryland study center at Kiplin Hall in northern Yorkshire, England.

Preservation at the University of Maryland also incorporates cross-cultural value systems of historic preservation through international exchange programs. In the winter term of 2008, Professor Matthew Bell led an interdisciplinary studio team in Castellamare di Stabia on the Bay of Naples to produce a report on how that community could balance the need for public transportation and green space while maintaining the historic resources that form the core of their tourist economy. The university maintains a study center at Kiplin Hall, a 17th-century country house in northern Yorkshire, England. Used throughout the year for various study-abroad seminars, a popular summer colloquium explores the social, political, and architectural context of English pubs as third places with a special function in communities, and compares this role with American bars or taverns. (see

Local architectural historian assists students in their studies at Kiplin Hall.

By taking an integrated approach to the study of the built environment, the historic preservation program at the University of Maryland prepares students to think creatively and perform skillfully in challenging professional roles. Taking advantage of its proximity to Washington, the program draws in national, state, and local resources to inform and enhance the study of preservation policy, law, and hands-on site administration. By combining a diverse student body and multi-disciplinary approach, the program integrates methods and perspectives from many fields to expand historic preservation beyond the study of the past into conversations with the present. Taking a holistic approach to preservation practice, Maryland’s curriculum addresses preservation’s goal of contributing to a civil society.


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