The Historic Preservation Planning Alumni, Inc. (HPPA) Summer 2016 Newsletter: New and Improved!
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Anniversaries, New Initiatives, and a New Newsletter!


2016 is an important year for many in the preservation community, and even more so for HPPA. In addition to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act and the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service, we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of Cornell’s Historic Preservation Planning Program!

At HPPA, 2016 also marks an important shift in how we’re going to connect with YOU, our alumni and affiliates.

Perhaps you’ve donated and supported HPPA for years, once served on the board but are no longer involved, are just entering the profession, or have never participated in the organization. The board has been hard at work coming up with new ways to make meaningful connections among our alumni, provide opportunities to give back to HPP, and support continuing education. More details on many of these activities are included in the following pages, and I encourage you to check them out and reach out to us if you’re interested in being more involved.

New activities include:

  • Sending the newsletter, full of exciting updates, directly to all alumni and affiliates, regardless of donor status.
  • Developing regional networks to facilitate the sharing of jobs, information, and friendships in particular geographical areas.
  • Building a comprehensive membership directory of all of our graduates, the first step to developing a mentorship program.
  • Creating welcome packages for incoming students and graduation packages for outgoing ones.

Beyond this, our important work with the Barclay Jones Thesis Grant, support for Work Weekend, and job postings continues!

I look forward to connecting with you, and hope you’ll join us in these exciting endeavors!

Katelin Olson, ‘09
President, HPPA

If you're not a member of HPPA, or if your membership has lapsed, please consider joining us at

On March 18th, the HPPA Upstate Chapter sponsored its first regional event at Prof. Jeff Chusid's house. The evening brought together prospective and current students, as well as area alumni. Alumni attendees included Carl Stearns (1977), Julee Johnson (1985), Alphonse Pieper (1997), Kristen Olson (2008), Katelin Olson (2009), and Grant Johnson (2010). 
Work Weekend at Lynn Hall
This year's HPP Work Weekend took place April 14 – April 17 at Lynn Hall in Port Allegany, Pennsylvania. A National Register of Historic Places listed property, Lynn Hall was designed by Walter Hall, a self-taught designer/builder, and his son, Raymond Viner Hall. Walter Hall built Lynn Hall, and his work there was a contributing factor in his selection as chief contractor of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater. Thirty HPP and MRP students worked on a number of projects on the property, including tuck-pointing; re-roofing the main building, waterproofing an exterior water feature; removing, regrading and re-laying a large stone patio; and installing cork wall finishes. Thanks to Work Weekend hosts and Lynn Hall owners Gary and Sue Devore; and the project organizers, Abigail Lawton and Brian Cooley. Jeff Chusid was the faculty member in charge, and others who joined the fun included Prof. Michael Tomlan, and alumni Mahyar Hadighi, Natalie Franz and Katelin Olson. We were also joined by Mahyar’s wife and fellow architect, Ramina, as well as a representative from Preservation Pennsylvania showing support for an important project organized by a private owner.
Class of 2017 Introductions
HPP welcomed the program's new class in Fall 2015.  Here is a snapshot of the new class.

PSSO President
Jenny has a bachelors of science in Historic Preservation and Architectural Design.  Her interests focus on economic revitalization through adaptive reuse of the built environment.  Before attending Cornell University she was the Economic Development Director, Main Street Manager, and Planning and Zoning Director of a city in Texas. Previous to becoming a city planner she worked with NPS, USFS, and BLM throughout Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon, and California compiling preservation plans, documentation/measured drawings, and physically restoring historic structures in the backcountry and a historic landmark (Timberline Lodge).
I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts from Herron School of Art and Design in the heart of Downtown Indianapolis. During the program, I studied in Greece and Italy with Professor Linda Adele Goodine and Doctor Jennifer Lee, respectively. This became a foundation for my growing interest in historic civilizations, architecture and preservation as a profession. After my BFA,  I worked for several photography and design businesses to build on my technical skills in the marketing and advertisement industry. Eventually, I was offered a position that tied my two interests together. As project coordinator, I worked for a landscape design and construction company that specializes in projects in historic areas of Indianapolis. I served as project liaison and developed the marketing aspects of the company as well as retained a working knowledge of city permitting processes and project management skills. 
Andrew hails from the rural southwestern part of New York State and spent many years as an independent musician & tradesman before graduating from Wells College in 2011.  Andrew has served (or currently serves) on a number of community boards including the Cayuga County Tourism Board, Chapel House Homeless Shelter, Auburn Housing Authority Development Corporation, and was also an elected member of the Auburn Enlarged City School District Board of Education where he was chair of the Facilities Committee.
Olivia White graduated from Saint Louis University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies. During her senior year, she was an intern for architectural historian Michael R. Allen at the Preservation Research Office in St. Louis, Missouri. Her interests in the field include public history, neighborhood preservation, and modern architecture. She also has interned at the Missouri History Museum and most recently was employed in the Museum Gift Shop as a sales associate.
Abigail Lawton received a B.A. in the History of Art and Visual Culture from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 2009.  After graduation, her interest in historical artifacts led her to intern with a local paintings conservator.  In 2010 she moved to San Francisco where she secured another internship with the art conservator at the SF Maritime National Historic Park.  In 2012, she moved on to the Oakland Museum of California where she worked as an exhibition mount maker for nearly three years.  Her goal, now, is to apply the sensibilities she has gained from these two fields to the preservation of historic sites and structures.
Before coming to Cornell, Shannon earned her BA in Anthropology and Global and International Culture Studies from SUNY Oswego in her hometown of Oswego, NY. This past year, Shannon worked at Fort Ontario State Historic Site in research and collections and has also been an active volunteer with the Richardson-Bates House Museum in Oswego. Shannon is pursuing her MA in Historic Preservation Planning and hopes to one-day work for a city landmarks commission or state preservation office.
I was born and raised in central Alabama and, as a child, my favorite toys were a pocket knife and a hacksaw. I grew up being fascinated with making things and that wound up leading me to pursue a bachelor's degree in sculpture. Unwilling to starve afterwards, I've found myself working as everything from a cook on a horse ranch to a decorative finisher working on a historic rail car. Between those two jobs I started and ran a stone masonry business and taught myself how to build fireplaces and structural arches and the like. The research I did while learning those skills kept turning up all kinds of fascinating structures that people all over the world had built, and I just had to know more. Unfortunately, the more I learned about them the more I noticed that many were already gone, in disrepair, or under threat of demolition. That's why I'm here in the HPP program: studying to help preserve what I think are some of the most amazing places on earth.
Have you filled out the HPPA Alumni Questionnaire yet?
Class of 2016 Thesis Topics

Ana Felisa Huckfeldt
Dinosaur National Monument is a 211,142-acre area on the border of Utah and Colorado, southeast of the Uinta Mountains and at the confluence of the Green and Yampa Rivers. It comprises two distinct units - a world-famous dinosaur quarry, which was designated “Dinosaur National Monument” in 1915, and a vast canyon section, which was appended to the original 80-acre monument in 1938. The 1915 proclamation was and remains an unusual application of the Antiquities Act, in that it designated a site from which the objects to be protected - the dinosaur fossils - would be extracted, rather than preserved in place. The Monument’s purpose is further complicated by the fact the addition lands of 1938, the scenic canyons of the Green and Yampa Rivers, do not contain any dinosaur fossils. Much of Dinosaur’s meaning lies in its human story, a history that has occurred at the intersection of historic preservation and conservation. Its 100-year history is one in which its enabling legislations have been interpreted and used for many purposes, thus transforming a natural landscape into a cultural resource. 
Sean McGee
Chatham Village, located in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was a daring venture that was undertaken by the newly formed Buhl Foundation during the early years of the Great Depression. As a result of copious preliminary studies, efficient constructions methods, and effective site planning, Chatham Village demonstrated its success in limited-dividend housing for the middle class and was lauded in publications throughout the nation. However, although the model it presented succeeded, the concept never took hold as a solution to providing reasonably priced housing on a larger scale. This thesis explores the manner in which the contextual setting of Chatham Village within the neighborhood of Mount Washington was both understood and utilized by the Buhl Foundation in an attempt to achieve certain underlying social objectives. An examination of the history of the Bigham estate and the development of Mount Washington from an industrial to a residential neighborhood are presented in conjunction with a description of the progressive forces that became influential prior to the development of Chatham Village. In analyzing the ways in which they merged, leading to the adoption of zoning regulations and the legitimacy of comprehensive planning in Pittsburgh, this study further reveals the intentions of the Buhl Foundation in developing the project and the manner in which the site’s historical context became an implement that was utilized by the Foundation to achieve the isolated success of Chatham Village.
Jordan Cleek
Cheekwood is a well-known art institute in Nashville, Tennessee. The grounds and mansion were designed by New York state resident, Bryant Fleming, and commissioned by the Cheek family in 1929. The couple’s daughter and son-in-law, Hudlah and Walter Sharp, transformed the once private resident of Leslie and Mabel Cheek into the Tennessee Botanical Gardens and Fine Arts Center in 1959. In this thesis, the background of the development, the architectural narrative of the mansion, the evolution of the grounds, as well as the preservation of the extensive estate have been examined. 
Molly Soffietti
The preservation of historic urban squares using the Market Square Historic District in Pittsburgh, PA as a case study.
Lei Yang
In recent years, the virtual reality technique has been used in lots of fields, including entertainment, education, and design. The powerful visual effect of VR has been recognized as a far more persuasive tool than any other 2D imagery display method. So far more and more heritage sites and preservation institutes have introduced VR to facilitate their work on presenting documentary information to the public. Apart from going over the development history of virtual reality technology and visual presentation, I will introduce the recent examples taking place in China, aiming to find out some of the relationship between VR and heritage management as well as documentation work. Besides, the fact that human being perceiving the external information will benefit from this immersive system via their sensory system will be further discussed in the chapters. There will be a VR experiment that I conduct with the assistance from IS department in Cornell introduced as well, to support my hypothesis on VR facilitating human being understanding different cultural contexts. 
Erin Fredrickson
Russian occupation of southern Alaska lasted from the mid-18th century until 1867.  Several structures relating to Russian settlement and missionary activity are extant, including several Russian Orthodox churches across the state.  Many of these churches were constructed after the United States' purchase of Alaska and therefore after Russian occupation.  Three specific churches along the Cook Inlet region in south-central Alaska are discussed within this thesis to determine why the churches were constructed, how they've been preserved, and the major players and challenges inherent in their preservation.

John Southern
In the buildings of Nashville's Broadway and Music Row districts, remarkable sociocultural rivers of memory, identity, and music flow into one another creating a distinctive style of "architecture." The buildings' defining characteristics are embodied in notions of identity and memory by way of culturally-created imagined spaces, which function as sties for the production and reproduction of the same.  Many of the buildings in Music Row do not have a physically-definitive, unifying typology.  The study explores the idea that the "architectural style" of Nashville's Music Row is not a physical style, but influence of the culture of country music. The thesis explores the possibility of creative a new, more meaningful, and effective way of evaluating such sites by using cultural theory, in addition to evaluating the site with preexisting criteria.
The Dennis-Newton House is listed on the Preservation League of New York State's Seven to Save list for 2016-2017
Dennis-Newton House, Home of Alpha Phi Alpha, America's Oldest African American Fraternity

On a fall evening in 1905, Charles C. Poindexter, a new graduate student in Cornell’s Department of Agriculture, convened a study group at 421 North Albany Street in Ithaca. Many students like him, undoubtedly, performed similar acts in departments all over campus. Part academic, part social, such groups continue to play a vital role in student life. But Poindexter’s group was exceptional: it ignited an entire movement. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Duke Ellington all went on to become members of this study group’s successors.

America’s oldest African American fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, grew out of this small meeting of black Cornellians, nurtured by their mentor and the owner of 421 North Albany Street, Edward Newton. Starting as a waiter for the Psi Upsilon fraternity at Cornell, Newton soon filled other positions in the organization, including janitor, valet, and steward. Employment provided the only access African Americans had to Cornell’s fraternities in the late 19th century. Although the university had a proud heritage of academic integration dating back to its 1865 founding, white and black students maintained strict social separation.

Deeply familiar with Psi Upsilon and an active member of Ithaca’s small African American community, Newton was uniquely positioned to mentor the study group, whose members soon split over whether to remain a literary society or become a formal fraternity.  In 1906, the members chose the fraternal path, and by the end of 1917, 18 other Alpha Phi Alpha chapters had opened in colleges across the United States. Today, there are upwards of 550 active collegiate chapters.

Alpha Phi Alpha recognizes 421 North Albany as its birthplace, a modest two-story clapboard house with fenestration typical of the late Victorian period. Demonstrating a high level of integrity, the house, nevertheless, suffered decades of neglect, including a deteriorated roof that allowed rain and snow to fall into the rear addition. Demolition by neglect was only a matter of time.
Yet thanks to advocacy by Alpha Phi Alpha headquarters and Historic Ithaca, the Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission (ILPC) and the Ithaca Common Council approved an application for individual landmark status for 421 North Albany, known as the Edward Newton House, in the spring of 2015. (As a member of the ILPC, this was one of my proudest votes.)  Ithaca has a historic property maintenance law, and as a result of the listing, the current owner is currently restoring the property appropriately as legally required. Alpha Phi Alpha hopes to be able to eventually purchase the house – their previous offers have been rejected – but for now this important African American heritage site is protected and slowly improving.
Katelin Olson ‘09
Ithaca Landmarks Preservation Commission
New HPPA Newsletter
Save the Date!
Work Weekend
Class of 2017
2016 Thesis Topics
Chapter House Update
Dennis-Newton House
Join HPPA on Facebook and LinkedIn
Chapter House Update
In our last issue, we told you about the fate of the Chapter House and that the owners were hoping to save as much of the original structure as possible...the project has hit a snag. The owner decided to sell the vacant lot because he'd rather own and manage property than develop it. It's unclear if the approved design will ever be used or if the Chapter House will return to the site. We'll keep you posted as things continue to develop.
Joshua Abrams, MRP '02, facilitated our 2015 strategic planning process. Joshua issued a challenge to the board: create 4 regional HPPA chapters and host 2 events by the end of June 2017, and keep his $400 facilitator fee. We thankfully accept!

Stay tuned for news about our fledging groups in Ithaca, Albany, Philadelphia and Denver! 

Special thanks to Joshua Abrams, MRP '02
Community Planning Collaborative
Are you attending APT in San Antonio October 30 - November 2 or PastForward (NTHP) in Houston November 15 - 18? We want to hear from you! Please email
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