Barns: History & Conservation

Historic Preservation Summer Institute

University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont

July 25-29,1994, 9AM-5PM

Thomas Visser
Interim Director, Historic Preservation Program, Department of History, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405 Telephone: (802) 656-0577

Course overview:

Lingering evidence of our agrarian heritage can be found in the barns and farm buildings that dot the landscape of North America. But whether in scenic rural areas or in densely populated regions, many of the most important reminders of this heritage stand neglected and endangered. In an era when "quality of the life" and cultural tourism play increasing vital roles in shaping rural economies, a major public commitment is needed to help farmers and non-farmers find productive ways to save these irreplaceable cultural assets.

The intent of this course is to help those involved with environmental conservation, planning and preservation discover new approaches for preserving threatened farm complexes and other historic agricultural resources. Techniques for identifying historic farm buildings and documenting their history and uses will be covered. The course also reviews approaches for assessing conditions of deteriorated farm buildings, developing conservation strategies, and establishing preservation and planning policies.

With its state funded barn preservation grant program and other innovative planning and natural resource protection initiatives, Vermont has taken a lead in farm building preservation efforts. Field trips in the Lake Champlain Valley and the Green Mountains will view important examples of barn preservation projects and rural resource protection programs.

Thomas D. Visser. A Field Guide to New England Barns and Farm Buildings (Forthcoming)
(Available at UVM Graphics and Printing, Waterman Building.)


Each student taking the course for credit shall conduct a research project on some aspect of the history of agricultural buildings, their use, construction techniques, or preservation. Many suitable research topics are listed in the agricultural property type listings included in the Vermont Preservation Plan. Your preliminary thoughts should be discussed informally with your professor on Wednesday. A written proposal is due on Friday morning. A written outline of the research report shall be submitted by August 15. Final paper is due on August 29, 1994 or by speciaL arrangement.

The results of the research shall be presented in a term paper suitable for publication or comparable project using another media. The format of the paper should follow accepted style rules (MLA or Chicago Manual of Style) with all sources noted. The paper should include suitable illustrations, maps, and photographs. It should be typed or written on a word processor. Please keep a copy of your final work, as your submitted paper shall be retained for the Historic Preservation Research Library collection. While there is no set length, at least 8 to 15 pages of text would be expected. For this extended credit course, your grade is largely based on your research project. Your professor will be available as a resource to help guide this research. To contact Prof. Visser, call his office at 656-0577.

Class Schedule