The Masters of Science degree program in Historic Preservation at the University of Vermont is administratively part of the Department of History in the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as part of the Graduate College. All graduate students enter the program in the fall. Most complete their studies after three semesters and a summer internship, but some choose to include a fourth semester and a thesis. Part-time enrollment is also possible by special arrangement.
The offices and main instructional facilities of the Historic Preservation Program are located in the Wheeler House. Prominently located at the corner of Main Street and South Prospect Street in the University Green Historic District, this Greek Revival style building was constructed in 1842 to the designs of the nationally-known architect, Ammi Burnham Young. After serving as a residence and later as the campus infirmary, Wheeler House was rehabilitated in the mid-1970s to serve as the home of the Historic Preservation Program and History Department. Recently, major building rehab projects have included restoring the west veranda and roof-top balustrade, installing a new ADA-compliant entrance and interior wheelchair lift, a new perimeter drainage system, and various interior improvements.
Since its founding in the 1970s, the University of Vermont Historic Preservation Program has taken a broad-based approach to preparing students for broad-based careers in the conservation and management of the built environment through studies and research in preservation administration, planning and education, architectural conservation, adaptive use and economic development, architectural and cultural history, documentation, and cultural resource management.
Thomas D. Visser, Associate Professor of Historic Preservation, has directed the Historic Preservation Program since 1994. He is a tenured member of the UVM History Department and has taught courses in researching historic buildings, architectural conservation, building technology, and other preservation topics at the University of Vermont since 1985. Prof. Visser has served on the Burlington Design Advisory Board and as a Vermont District Environmental Commission member. He has also served on the executive committee of the National Council for Preservation Education. As a recipient of a National Endowment for the Art grant award, much of Visser's scholarly research has focused on rural preservation. His award-winning Field Guide to New England Barns and Farm Buildings was published by the University Press of New England. His recent research focuses on the history of porches. His book, Porches of North America, was published by the University Press of New England in 2012. In addition to numerous professional reports and nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, Prof. Visser's articles, reports, and reviews are published in such journals as the Bulletin of the Association for Preservation Technology, Preservation Education & Research, and the New England Quarterly.
Robert McCullough, Associate Professor of Historic Preservation, serves as a full-time faculty member of the Historic Preservation Program and is a tenured member of the University of Vermont History Department. Formerly the Historic Preservation Coordinator for the Vermont Agency of Transportation in Montpelier, Vermont, where he conducted regulatory review to ensure that transportation projects comply with federal and state historic preservation laws, McCullough holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning, a J. D. degree in Law, and masters degrees in historic preservation planning and public policy law. He is the author of The Landscape of Community: A History of Communal Forests in New England; A Path for Kindred Spirits: The Friendship of Clarence Stein and Benton MacKaye; Crossings: A History Of Vermont Bridges, and numerous other publications.
The curriculum is designed and updated to help prepare graduates for fulfilling professional careers in the field of historic preservation. The M.S. degree in Historic Preservation is a 36-credit hour program. All students complete either a 3-credit internship or a 6-credit written thesis project, and must pass a comprehensive examination at the end of the third semester. Click here for course listings and curriculum requirements.
Over the years UVM historic preservation alumni have served as staff or chief executive officers of local, state, and national major preservation organizations including: the Smithsonian Institution, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Heritage Canada, Georgia Heritage Trust, Preservation Maryland, Historic Boston, Historic Albany Foundation, Greater Portland Landmarks, New Haven Preservation Trust, Miami Purchase Preservation Fund, Providence Preservation Revolving Fund, Historic York, Preservation Action, Arizona Historic Preservation Office, Florida Keys Preservation Board, Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, Savannah Landmark, Historic Charleston Foundation, U.S. ICOMOS, Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities/ Historic New England, Canadian Canoe Museum, New York Landmarks Preservation Commission, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Federal Highways Administration (FWHA) and Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. Alumni are also employed by a variety of cultural resource management consulting firms as historic preservation specialists and architectural historians.
The alumni of the University of Vermont Historic Preservation Program also serve as an important resource and base of support through guest appearances in classes, as networking colleagues, and through their generous contributions to the University of Vermont Historic Preservation Program Fund.
An independent organization, the UVM Historic Preservation Alumni Association, Inc., has been formed by graduates to promote and support the Historic Preservation Program at the University of Vermont through recruitment and various promotional activities, to support the association's members by means of a web site, online communications and mentoring programs, and to promote and support historic preservation education through partnerships with preservation organizations, workshops and field schools, and local and regional events. Click here for news about alumni activities and professional accomplishments.
Click here to read about a University of Vermont alumni serving as a preservation architect with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in New Orleans.
In recognition of the increasingly important roles for computer-based devices and information technologies in the historic preservation profession, the UVM Historic Preservation Program provides students with access to and training on computer-based equipment and software. A digital lab with over twenty iMac computers that can be connected to digital microscopes, scanners, printers, and other hardware is located in Wheeler House for priority use by historic preservation graduate students. The goal is to provide all historic preservation graduate students with a solid foundation in the computer-related knowledge and skills desired in the professional world. Many of the preservation courses include opportunities for the development of a range of computer-related skills, including producing web sites, newsletters, and professional reports.
Also students have access to various hands-on tools and equipment used for analyzing and documenting historic finishes, mortars, environmental conditions, and other building materials for historical and conservation research. Recent additions include an infrared building inspection camera and moisture meters.
Other facilities in Wheeler House available for historic preservation graduate student use include seminar rooms, the Nora Mitchell Landscape Preservation Resource Library, and an architectural conservation workshop. These spaces are accessible to persons using wheelchairs. In addition to the Wheeler House facilities, some historic preservation courses are taught in classrooms and labs located in other buildings on the University of Vermont campus.
Studies are complemented by field trips and site visits to the Shelburne Museum and various heritage sites. Student projects are often conducted on various historic campus buildings and on other historic structures in the region.
Examples of organizations that have employed University of Vermont students during their full time summer internships are: National Park Service, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Central Park Conservancy, Connecticut Historical Commission, Historic American Building Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, Historic Charleston Foundation, New Jersey Preservation Office, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program, Savannah Landmarks, Historic New England, National Trust (England), Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, National Trust Yankee Internship Program, Santa Barbara Preservation Trust, Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum, Portland (ME) Museum of Art, Waterford Foundation, Historic Windsor, Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, South Dakota State Historic Preservation Office, Stoneyard Institute, Vermont Agency of Transportation, City of Burlington Planning & Zoning Department, and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation.
Graduate students have the opportunity to take field study trips in some courses to observe preservation projects around the globe individually or in groups in the HP 304 Seminar in Contemporary Preservation Policy and Planning with travel and lodging subsidized with scholarship grants from the Historic Preservation Program's endowment fund. In past years, graduate students have taken field research trips to Mexico, Bermuda, Poland, Italy, Scotland, England, Nicaragua, Austria, Cuba, Virginia, Chicago, Annapolis, Selma, Denver, Forth Worth, Dallas, St. Antonio, Natchez, New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, Charleston, Savannah, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, Kansas City, Buffalo, Old Miami Beach, Boston, Montreal, Quebec, Ottawa, and elsewhere.
To support scholarships and other enhancements, the Historic Preservation Program has received generous gift contributions from its alumni, supporters, and a number of foundations and agencies, including the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, National Park Service, Eva Gebhard-Gourgaud Foundation; Cecil Howard Charitable Trust; Patrick Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; U.S. Department of the Interior through the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation; National Trust for Historic Preservation; Vermont Council on the Arts; Vermont Council on the Humanities and Public Issues; New York Community Trust; New Hampshire Charitable Fund; Kellogg Foundation; Windham Foundation and other private and public donors. Some of these funds are invested in an endowment dedicated to program support and enrichment.
Internationally recognized for its beautiful rural landscapes and compact historic villages, Vermont is rich in historic architectural resources. Its long tradition of town meeting government has given it an involved citizenry and the opportunity to produce rapid results at the community level. Vermont has been a pioneer in environmental protection through such legislation as its land use law, Act 250, statewide sign control, ban on non-returnable beverage containers, historic and design control districts, and vigorous enforcement of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The Vermont Historic Preservation Act of 1975 is one of the nation's most comprehensive state statutes relating to the protection of historic resources. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has twice included Vermont on its list of most endangered historic places in the country. Indeed the state and the Burlington area face today's challenges of sustainability, re-development, sprawl, traffic, housing and urban issues. Through a well-established network of cooperation with local and state agencies, preservation organizations and museums, students have the opportunity to use the state and region as an extended laboratory to study and experiment with innovative preservation strategies. Burlington has a vibrant community life, a strong respect for historic preservation, and an enthusiastic spirit of innovation, collaboration, and opportunity. The UVM campus is also about two hours away from Montreal, Quebec, and is close to some of the best biking, hiking, skiing and snowboarding in the East.
Admissions and Funding
Questions? Schedule an appointment or visit? Contact the Historic Preservation Program