Latrobe Chapter Summer Picnic

posted May 31, 2017, 3:00 PM by Bill Marzella   [ updated Jun 15, 2017, 1:51 PM ]

Saturday, June 17th
Summer picnic and tours of the Historic Clermont Farm in Berryville, VA! 

The Latrobe Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, in partnership with the Washington, DC Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology, will host a summer picnic and tour at the Clermont Farm in Berryville, Virginia. Clermont Farm, a 360-acre working cattle and sheep farm, is a site dedicated to research and training in history, historic preservation, and agriculture. A gift to the people of Virginia by Elizabeth Rust Williams in 2004, the site is owned by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and operated by the Clermont Foundation.  Clermont is architecturally significant as a well-preserved agricultural complex of buildings
ranging in date from about 1770 to the mid-twentieth century. The farm’s original main dwelling, a frame one-and-a-half-story house, probably built around 1770, is one of the oldest surviving houses in Clarke County. Attendees will also have the opportunity to tour the ongoing restoration of the 1823 log slave dwelling. Visit for additional information on the site.

We will also be having a picnic at the barn between our morning and afternoon tours! APT and SAH members are invited to bring their families and join us for this fun event. The agenda follows*:

10 a.m. Guests arrive, parking along the driveway, and gather at the barn.
10:15 a.m.- First tour (1917 Barn, 1849 Corn House, and 1857 Spring House Dairy)
12:00 p.m.- Lunch
1:30 p.m.- Second tour (1823 Slave Dwelling, 1777+ Main House, 1803 Smoke House)

*Exact tour locations and timing may be subject to change at the discretion of Clermont Farm staff.

Registration Information

Please follow this link to register through the APT-DC website.

Ticket (covers cost of catered lunch):
Adults and Kids over 12:    $10 per person
Kids 12 and under:                Free                  

Registration closes June 14th.  Registration deadline has been extended to Friday, June 16!

Directions and Carpool

Address (for GPS):
801 E. Main Street
Berryville, VA  22611 

Additional directions, courtesy of the Clermont Foundation, are attached.

Are you planning to attend the whole event? Are you able to offer a ride (appx. 1 1/2 hrs. from D.C.)? Or are you looking for a ride? John Sandor will be coordinating carpooling for the event. We'd like everyone who wants to attend to be able to do so, please be a peach and offer a seat!

Call for Papers! 2017 Latrobe Chapter Symposium

posted May 11, 2017, 1:46 PM by Bill Marzella   [ updated Jul 5, 2017, 10:34 AM ]

October 28, 2017

The Catholic University of America School of Architecture and Planning

Organized by the Latrobe Chapter of The Society of Architectural Historians, in collaboration with the DC Preservation League and the Catholic University of America, School of Architecture and Planning. The 12th Biennial Symposium explores the relationship between Federal and local interests as they relate to the built environment of greater Washington, DC.


City and Capital: Building Washington, DC, as Home and Symbol 

The tensions between serving as the National Capital and functioning as a practical city have defined Washington, DC, politically, socially, and physically. Throughout the city, suburbs, and surrounding region, this conflict is manifest in the built environment. From the governing precinct emanating from Capitol Hill to the myriad federal agency compounds that radiate well into Virginia, Maryland, and beyond, the presence of the U.S. government is unmistakable.

The Latrobe Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians welcomes paper proposals for a symposium that examines the interplay between Washington the capital and Washington the city.

Papers might explore:
  • the federal regulation of the area’s built environment and how it has enhanced or impeded the development of a vibrant local architecture; 
  • the influence of embassies and other international architectural statements, as well as headquarters buildings for U.S. companies and organizations, attracted by the capital; 
  • model government-built communities such as Greenbelt or Langston Terrace as manifestations of the federal government’s effect on local lives; 
  • explicit comparisons with other capital cities, considering to what degree Washington is unique; or 
  • considerations of planning, landscape, and/or architecture, with an eye toward the juxtaposition of the monumentality of the capital with the ordinary life around it. 
The purpose of the symposium is to feature recent research in a format that encourages comment and discussion. Papers must be analytical rather than descriptive in nature and should place the subject in a comparative context of political, social, economic, technological, or cultural forces, as appropriate.

All paper sessions will take place on Saturday, October 28, 2017, at The Catholic University of America School of Architecture and Planning.

Please send a one-page, 350-word abstract of a 20-minute paper and an abbreviated curriculum vitae by July 15, 2017, to Lauren McHale at All applicants will be notified of the selection by July 29, 2017. September 29 is the deadline for final text to be sent to session moderators, who will work with presenters to develop themes for discussion. For further information, contact Lauren McHale at or 317-459-8973.

Image credit: Mural "An Incident in Contemporary American Life," by Mitchell Jamieson at the Department of Interior, Washington, D.C., 1943. Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Practical Geometry: How We Designed and Laid Out Buildings Before Standard Dimensions

posted Apr 18, 2017, 1:10 PM by Bill Marzella   [ updated Apr 24, 2017, 7:50 AM ]

Lecture by Jane Griswold Radocchia

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Why did James Gibbs and William Buckland sit for their portraits holding compasses? Why did Asher Benjamin and Owen Biddle begin their pattern books with Practical Geometry? Why was Peter Nicholson’s book about practical geometry. The Carpenter’s New Guide, published in 1792, so popular that it ran through 10 editions?

A compass was the master builder’s symbol, his tool. Practical geometry governed how we designed and built: plans and elevations, framing; windows, doors, ornamentation. Measurements came after layout. Facility with a compass was a basic skill taught to apprentices by master builders. The Industrial Revolution, especially the need for interchangeable parts and therefore standard dimensions, made geometry - expressed by both Vitruvius and Palladio as an understanding that a building’s parts should correspond to the whole and to each other - seem irrelevant. And as apprenticeships disappeared so did the unwritten knowledge of practical geometry.

Jane Griswold Radocchia
, an “old house” architect, began writing about vernacular architecture for her regional newspaper in Massachusetts in 1989. The column, which ran bi-weekly for 10 years, received a MA Historic Preservation Award in 1994. Jane began to research the use of geometry in construction about 2009, writing about it in her architectural blog, In 2014 she presented at the Timber Framers Guild Annual Meeting. In 2015 and 2016, she taught hands-on sessions on Practical Geometry for the International Preservation Trades Network Workshops. She will teach again at the IPTNW in 2017. Jane Radocchia’s BA is from Oberlin College. Her M. Arch with honors is from MIT. She has received numerous historic preservation awards for her work with old houses.

The First Congregational United Church of Christ
945 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 
6:30 pm – reception, 7:00 pm – lecture

Reservations are not required. $10.00 for Latrobe Chapter members, student members (full time) free with ID, $15.00 for non-members (reduced admission for non-members!).

Maryland 100 in SAH Archipedia Classic Buildings

posted Mar 23, 2017, 1:06 PM by Bill Marzella   [ updated Mar 23, 2017, 1:18 PM ]

Lecture by Lisa Davidson and Catherine Lavoie

Historic American Buildings Survey, National Park Service
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Maryland is now represented in SAH Archipedia: Classic Buildings, a free, open-access site containing entries for around 100 buildings from each state represented in SAH Archipedia. SAH Archipedia is an authoritative online encyclopedia of the built world published by the Society of Architectural Historians and the University of Virginia Press, and contains histories, photographs, and maps for more than 17,000 structures and places.

This new content represents Maryland’s most characteristic buildings and sites, compiled by coordinators Lisa Davidson and Catherine Lavoie. Davidson and Lavoie will discuss their choices for the Maryland 100 and the considerations that guided their selection. Themes such as Maryland’s transportation, religious, maritime, and African American history were especially important, as were including noteworthy local building forms such as five-part-plan Georgian houses. Special attention was also given to representing the geographic diversity of Maryland as wells as time periods ranging from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

For a complete list of sites, visit:

The First Congregational United Church of Christ
945 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 
6:30 pm – reception, 7:00 pm – lecture

Reservations are not required. $10.00 for Latrobe Chapter members, student members (full time) free with ID, $15.00 for non-members (reduced admission for non-members!).

“You Will Find It Handy”: Twentieth-Century African American Travel Guides

posted Mar 1, 2017, 9:38 AM by Bill Marzella   [ updated Mar 14, 2017, 12:22 PM ]

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The growth of automobile usage during the twentieth century brought more and more American drivers out on the open road. But refusal of service and other threats made travel extremely difficult for African-Americans. One solution came from Victor H. Green, who between 1937 and 1963 published The Green Book, a guide for African-Americans traveling throughout the United States, Canada, Alaska, and Mexico. The Green Book was one of the most extensive and best known travel guides on the market. It listed the names and addresses of businesses, tourist homes, hotels, service stations, barber shops, beauty parlors, restaurants, bars, and taverns that would serve African-Americans during the pre-Civil Rights Act era.

The New York Public Library has recently digitized its collection of The Green Books.   Check out their entire collection here!

A consortium of historians is preparing posters highlighting the surviving Green Book sites in each state and documenting their unique character. Architectural and landscape historian Jennifer Reut will present an overview of The Green Book history and the goals of the ongoing poster project. Poster preparers Susan Hellman, Catherine W. Zipf, and Anne E. Bruder will be on hand to discuss their work and findings. Additional information on the presenters is below.

The First Congregational United Church of Christ
945 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 
6:30 pm – reception, 7:00 pm – lecture

Reservations are not required. $10.00 for Latrobe Chapter members, student members (full time) free with ID, $15.00 for non-members (reduced admission for non-members!).

Speaker Biographies

Jennifer Reut is an architectural and landscape historian and an editor at Landscape Architecture Magazine. After receiving her masters and doctoral degrees in architectural history at the University of Virginia in 2012, she accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, where she began researching the project that would become Mapping the Green Book. After researching and developing the project for the last five years, she recently launched the next phase, "The Spaces in Between," a collaboration with the photographer Sahar Coston-Hardy. She is a board member of the Vernacular Architecture Forum and a contributor to the SAH Archipedia 100 Landscapes initiative. In the magazine, she writes for a professional design audience on landscape history, design, cultural landscapes, industrial landscapes, environmental justice, and art, among other topics.

Catherine W. Zipf, PhD, is an award winning architectural historian and author with expertise in historic preservation. She holds an AB from Harvard University and a MaH and PhD from the University of Virginia. Zipf writes frequently for a wide range of print and online publications, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Leadership Forum Blog and She is currently writing her second book, Making a Home of Her Own: Newport’s Architectural Patronesses, 1850-1940, while serving as the interim Executive Director of the Bristol Historical and Preservation Society.

Susan Hellman, Director of Carlyle House Historic Park, is an architectural historian with an undergraduate degree from Duke University and a graduate degree from the University of Virginia School of Architecture. Hellman has served as the Acting Director of Woodlawn & Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey house, taught college-level courses in Architectural History and Art History, and worked as a Historian in both the Fairfax County (Virginia) Department of Planning and Zoning and the Virginia Room special collections library. She has written award-winning papers on local history and consulted on numerous research projects. She co-authored "Soil Tilled by Free Men: The Formation of a Free Black Community in Fairfax County, Virginia" accepted for publication in the March 2017 issue of the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Hellman is the author of “Traveling Safely in the Old Dominion” as part of the poster series “You Will Find it Handy: African American Travel Guides.” She serves on the Historic Alexandria Resources Commission, the Board of Governors of Visit Alexandria, the National Advisory Council of MADE: In America, and is an advisor to the Board of the Friends of Historic Huntley.

Anne E. Bruder is the Senior Architectural Historian for the Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration where she has worked since 2001.She worked for the Maryland Historical Trust from 1997 to 2001. Ms. Bruder is currently conducting research on commemorative events in Maryland related to World War I. In 2005, she served as a session chair for the Latrobe Chapter’s “Washington at War” biennial conference. In 2008 and 2015, Ms. Bruder spoke before the Transportation Research Board’s Committee on Historic and Archaeological Preservation in Transportation about the work of Architect Charles Goodman for the National Homes Corporation and the 1963 Civil Rights protests at Belair in Bowie. She is the author of the Maryland Green Book poster and a contributor to the Green Book overview poster “You Will Find It Handy.” She received her A.B. from Smith College and her MaH from the University of Virginia.

President's Letter, January 2017

posted Jan 27, 2017, 1:09 PM by Bill Marzella   [ updated Jan 27, 2017, 1:09 PM ]

Dear Latrobe Chapter Members:

On behalf of the Board of the Latrobe Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, I would like to thank all of our members for their continued support and interest in our programs. This past year the Chapter offered an incredible line up of lectures and study tours, and I am pleased to announce the opening of our 2017 schedule.

We will again be offering members the opportunity to pay a discounted price in advance for the full series of five lectures. (Tours are reserved separately and priced individually.) Here are some of this year’s upcoming highlights:
  • On February 8th Timothy Davis, PhD will deliver a lecture titled, National Park Roads: Reconciling the Machine and the Garden
  • On March 21st we will host an event exploring the history of The Green Book, a pre-Civil Rights era travel guide that helped African-American motorists find garages, beauty parlors, hotels, restaurants, and drug stores who would serve them while traveling on America’s highways. 
  • During the summer we will offer a picnic and tour of Claremont Farm in Berryville, VA in conjunction with the Association of Preservation Technology. This will be a rare opportunity to explore a large and well-preserved plantation dating from the mid-18th century. 
  • In the fall we will hold our biennial symposium on the architecture of Washington, DC and how the unique forces and controls of being the Nation’s Capital has impacted its design. 
If you have not already renewed your membership, please see the enclosed 2017 renewal form. Your membership is vital to continuing our programing, and we sincerely hope you will again join us for another exciting year.

The Latrobe Chapter’s website ( and our Facebook page “Latrobe Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians” are great ways to get information about our activities or last minute updates. We are always looking for new ideas and ways to improve our programs, so please feel free to contact me with your suggestions and feedback at or (317) 459-8973.


Lauren Oswalt McHale

National Park Roads: Reconciling the Machine and the Garden

posted Jan 22, 2017, 11:10 AM by Bill Marzella

Lecture by Timothy Davis, PhD
Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Millions of visitors tour national parks every year, but few consider when, where, how or why the roads they travel on were built. This presentation highlights the unique qualities of national park roads, relates them to European precedents and the Olmstedian tradition, and examines their role in shaping the national park experience. Not only do park roads determine what most visitors see and how they see it, but decisions about park roads epitomize the central challenge of national park stewardship: balancing preservation and access in America’s most treasured landscapes.

Park roads have been celebrated as technical and aesthetic masterpieces, hailed as democratizing influences, and vilified for invading pristine wilderness with the sights, sounds, and smells of civilization. Based on his recently released book, National Park Roads: A Legacy in the American Landscape, Davis’s recounting of efforts to balance the interests of motorists, wilderness advocates, highway engineers, and other stakeholders offers a fresh perspective on national park history while providing insights into evolving ideas about the role of nature, recreation, and technology in American society.

As the National Park Service’s senior historian for park historic structures and cultural landscapes, Tim Davis combines interdisciplinary research with preservation outreach. His writings on the American landscape have appeared in numerous books and journals. His newly released volume, National Park Roads: A Legacy in the American Landscape, highlights the unique qualities of national park roads, details their development and examines their role in shaping the national park experience.

The First Congregational United Church of Christ
945 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
6:30 pm – reception, 7:00 pm – lecture

Reservations are not required. $10.00 for Latrobe Chapter members, student members (full time) free with ID, $15.00 for non-members (reduced admission for non-members!).

Papertrails and Polychromies at Persepolis: Working on the Monuments of Darius the Great (549-486 BCE) in Iran

posted Nov 3, 2016, 1:03 PM by Bill Marzella   [ updated Nov 10, 2016, 2:07 PM ]

A Lecture by Alexander Nagel, PhD
Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The impressive monuments on the UNESCO world heritage site of Persepolis near the modern city of Shiraz, Iran remain one of the best-preserved architectural edifices to study aspects of ancient architecture and technology between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. Excavated since the 19th century, the buildings at Persepolis as well as those at Pasargadae and Susa were originally covered with bright colors and metal attachments. Since 2006, Dr. Nagel has been working with colleagues on the sites to determine the original polychrome appearance and to understand the functioning of the work force on the monumental architectures of these sites. This talk will provide an overview of the work, look at early 20th century polychrome Persian architecture displays in Washington, DC, and invite the audience to look beyond traditional ways of looking to past architectures, cultures and their modern preservation and display.

Alexander Nagel (Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2010) has been working on the archaeology and architecture of ancient Iran since 2006. His scholarly interests include research on pigments, polychromy, masons’ marks and ancient technology. He has also participated in archaeological fieldwork projects in Greece (Stratos), and he is working on aspects of heritage preservation in Yemen. As former Assistant Curator of Ancient Near East in the Freer Sackler, and as a current Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History he has curated museum installations and exhibitions at the Smithsonian Institution and at Foreign Embassies. He has taught at the University of Maryland and at New York University in Washington, DC, and he has published widely on the results of his research.

The First Congregational United Church of Christ
945 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 
6:30 pm – reception, 7:00 pm – brief annual meeting and lecture

Reservations are not required. $10.00 for Latrobe Chapter members, student members (full time) free with ID, $15.00 for non-members (reduced admission for non-members!).

Latrobe Chapter Fellowship Announced

posted Oct 25, 2016, 5:55 AM by Bill Marzella

See our "Annual Conference Fellowship" page for more information!

'To Make it a Grand Entrepôt’: The Story of Baltimore’s Locust Point

posted Sep 19, 2016, 12:01 PM by Bill Marzella   [ updated Sep 29, 2016, 8:46 AM ]

A Lecture by Philip Jacks, PhD
Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Baltimore, once the rival of Philadelphia and New York for its commercial port, is now in the throes of post-industrial development. One recent success is Silo Point, a condominium high-rise converted from the core of the 1923 Baltimore & Ohio grain elevator. For over a century, the wharves at Locust Point on the Patapsco River marked the great terminus of a railroad and transcontinental shipping network extending from Atlantic tidewater to the Great Lakes. In 1868, visionary president John Work Garrett connected his railroad to the Norddeutscher steamers, which would bring a million Polish, Irish and German immigrants to America. Until the Great War, piers 8 and 9 at Locust Point were the largest point of entry save for Ellis Island.

In the new millennium, the social fabric of this working-class neighborhood has seen much change. As Baltimore transitions from “Monument” to “Charm City,” smart growth of its industrial heritage can preserve the collective memory of its proud past, and inform the process of gentrification.

After earning his Ph.D. in History of Art at the University of Chicago (1985), Professor Philip Jacks has taught at Yale University, University of Michigan, and since 1997 at George Washington University. A specialist of Italian Renaissance art and architecture, he is the author of The Origins of Rome in Renaissance Thought (1993) and The Spinelli of Florence: Fortunes of a Renaissance Merchant Family with William Caferro (2001). While earning a Master of Architecture at the University of Maryland, his interests have turned to American architecture and urbanism. He is completing a book, ‘To Make it a Grand Entrepôt’: The Story of Baltimore’s Locust Point.

The First Congregational United Church of Christ
945 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 
6:30 pm – reception, 7:00 pm – lecture

Reservations are not required. $10.00 for Latrobe Chapter members, student members (full time) free with ID, $18.00 for non-members.  The lecture will be accompanied by a tour of the neighborhood at a later date.

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