Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Teaching Practicum: Historic Preservation Trades

I completed my teaching practicum in HP580 Historic Building Materials and Technology. If anyone has been following the History Graduate Program's Facebook page they have seen the pictures of the awesome workshops!

I taught some classes concerning the production and history of materials, such as roofing and the development of different types of siding, but my absolute favorite part was the workshops. Because of my experiences during my first AP (window restoration at Felixe Valle), second AP (5 weeks in Virginia with HistoriCorps, Institute), and an opportunity to attend the NCPTT cemetery workshop in Bardstown, Kentucky, I was able to bring these experiences and skills back to SEMO and into the classroom to educate upper-level undergraduate and graduate students.

Window Restoration Workshop:

The first workshop I taught on was on proper window restorations and repairs. Students were presented with windows made in different styles. They had to take the lessons learned in class and apply them to their window. What was broken? What caused the damage? What should be repaired? Then I taught them how to do the repairs. We discussed chemical cleaning versus steam, different glazing points types, styles, and uses. Different brands and composition of glazing materials. Tools and glass. I was able to bring real-life experiences I had to the class to answer questions, offer guidance, and teach appropriate restoration and preservation techniques. I loved the experience and moreover, the students really enjoyed it, as well!
Students work in teams on historic windows

Masonry Workshop:

The next workshop I taught was the masonry workshop. Again, prior to the workshop, I taught in class on composition of masonry units, different types of mortar, color matching, etc. At the workshop itself, we talked about the different compositions of uses of mortar. We also talked about the best way to mix mortar. Students were able to practice mortar removal, repointing, and different strikes. I made sure to explain the plethora of tools available and how to determine which tool to use on what job. The students were most surprised by the amount of water it took to wet the masonry units. They said reading about soaking the stones and actually spending forever soaking them with a hose was completely different than what they had imagined. This also allowed for a good discussion and better understanding of rising damp.

Students (and Dr. Hoffman) carefully chiseling joints to remove failing mortar

Students soaking the area with water to begin repointing

Before repointing
After repointing

Cemetery Workshop:

The final workshop I taught was the Cemetery Workshop. I spent the class prior to the workshop discussing with the students the different types of materials used in monuments and headstones, as well as the most common types in Missouri. We discussed inherent flaws, deterioration causes, and remediation methods based on the type, style, and location of the stone or monument. A key part of our discussion was the appropriate maintenance and cleaning of the stones. The workshop was held during the next class period we worked on stones, mostly marble, from the late eighteenth- to early-nineteenth-century. Using natural fiber brushes and D2 solution, students soaked, scrubbed, and rinsed the historic stones. As I had already explained, D2 takes days to reach full effect, they were surprised by hoe much difference scrubbing and rinsing the stones had made. They were proud of their work and many expressed interest in continuing in these efforts. Students also looked at different damaged or broken stones and applied their education and training to making recommendations for how to repair the stone.

Students prepare the stones for D2 by soaking them thoroughly with water

Students thoroughly scrub historic stones with natural fiber brushes

I greatly enjoyed my teaching practicum in HP580 Historic Building Materials and Technology. I think the part I loved the most was being able to bring back these preservation trades and share the knowledge with other preservationists. None of these experiences would have been possible without the aid of the amazing faculty here at Southeast or the donations of Historic Preservation Alumni to make education experiences like these possible for current Historic Preservation students.


First Impressions: Year One

     I think the most memorable part of my first year at SEMO was the people I got to know in the History department itself. Coming from a different state and not knowing a single person when I moved down here was intimidating at first, but by the first day of classes I had found some great people who were very inviting and willing to include me in whatever fun was happening in Cape. Over the course of the year, those people were more than just colleagues and fellow students, they became true friends, who I could trust with any problem. However, it does not stop with just my fellow grad students. The faculty in the History department were willing to do anything they could to make the year go smoother. All were willing to help whether you knew them or just met them in the hallways. The various departmental seminars and picnics were a great chance to get to know them on a personal basis and helped to relax the tension of grad school as the year went on.

     My plans for the summer are to go back to the state of Iowa where I have a few historic preservation jobs awaiting me. I am excited to get to work and preserve some of the historic places that have been important to me since I was young. The biggest project for the summer will be researching my thesis. I will spend much of this time happily sifting through old letters and archives in Missouri and Iowa to develop my thesis. Only a history student would love to spend the beautiful summer days locked away in an archive and reading old manuscripts. But I am sure I will make it to the river for a little kayaking and relaxation, one cannot spend all their time living in the past. I am looking forward to another year at SEMO and the chance to meet new students coming in for the new year. If next year is as entertaining, fun, and, at times, stressful in a good way as this year, it will hard to leave SEMO.