Are you an architectural historian? DC needs you.

Historians in the News

DC needs an architectural historian to serve on the Historic Preservation Review Board. John Vlach's term has expired, and while he's offered to remain on the board, Mayor Fenty nominated someone else, Christopher Landis, to replace Vlach. However, while he has architectural training who works on historic buildings, Landis is not an architectural historian. And that's a problem.

At last week's confirmation hearing for Landis, DCPL's Rebecca Miller pointed out that National Park Service regulations require a state preservation review board to contain an architectural historian (as well as a historian and an archaeologist). Without one, DC could lose about $500,000 in federal historic preservation funding, the Current reports.

Rather than disapprove Landis's nomination, DC Council Chairman Vincent Gray urged Mayor Fenty to withdraw the nomination and resubmit his name in July, when several other board members will be up for renomination or replacement. Meanwhile, however, HPRB needs an architectural historian.

A qualified "architectural historian" need not have a degree in architectural history; related fields, including art history with work in architectural history, also qualify. Vlach, for example, is an anthropologist. Here are the NPS guidelines:

The minimum professional qualifications in architectural history are a graduate degree in architectural history, art history, historic preservation, or closely-related field, with course work in American architectural history; or a bachelor's degree in architectural history with concentration in American architecture; or a bachelor's degree in architectural history, art history, historic preservation, or closely-related field plus one of the following:

1. At least two years of full-time experience in research, writing, or teaching in American architectural history or restoration architecture with an academic institution, historic organization or agency, museum, or other professional institution; or

2. Substantial contribution through research and publication to the body of scholarly knowledge in the field of American architectural history.

According to the Current, Miller submitted nine potential nominees. Who else? Do any of you meet these criteria? Do you know any DC residents who do, and who would be willing to serve on HPRB, spending one day a month at their meeting? Potential nominees ought to believe in the goals of historic preservation, but would ideally also consider the actual merit of each structure on its own, instead of simply landmarking a structure because of "momentum," as Vlach has argued in the past.

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