Andrew Johnston, Director, Program in Historic Preservation

ARH5611 The Cultural Landscape of Birdwood

In this field class students, professional staff, and professors will collaborate on the detailed study of Birdwood, an antebellum plantation house built between 1819 and 1830 that is today owned by the University of Virginia.  The history of Birdwood has not been well researched, and conducting this research is a major goal for the summer.

What is known is that Birdwood was built for owner William Garth, and sits on a plantation patented in 1739.  A colonial revival wing was added to the building, probably in the early 20th century.  Extant outbuildings include an ice-house, smokehouse, carriage house, barn, and slave quarters.  A remarkable brick water tower was added in 1909.

In this course we will be developing the skills necessary for work in heritage and preservation practice.  Hands-on practical work at the site will be combined with lectures, seminar discussions, and tutorials, to provide students with the toolbox of skills required of professionals in architectural history and historic preservation.  There will be units on hand drawing, field recording of historic structures, HABS/HAER documentation, laser scanning (and working with the digital data), drone photography, and digital representation including CAD.  We will also be developing documentary research skills, conducting survey evaluations, and making determinations of significance.  Our goals for this course are two-fold: to develop and practice the skills of the architectural historian/preservationist; and to produce valuable primary research and study of Birdwood that can be used by the University in determining a future for the site.


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