This summer, Helen Gassmann and I attended the Vernacular Architecture Forum’s (VAF) 2015 conference in Chicago, Illinois. Entitled “Out of the Loop,” the conference featured two days of walking tours through residential and industrial neighborhoods led by scholars and long-time Chicagoans. The conference concluded with a day of paper sessions. The theme of the conference, “Neighborhoods in Transition,” highlighted many issues at the core of the public history program at Villanova University. Topics included immigrant experiences, urban renewal issues, public housing histories, industrial and brownfield development, competition between old and new construction, and community involvement in preservation.
VAF is an organization dedicated to the study of ordinary landscapes and buildings. As a result its annual conference unites individuals from various disciplines. “Out of the Loop” brought historians, architects, urban planners, historic preservationists, anthropologists, sociologists, and geographers into conversation with each other, providing an opportunity for academics and professionals to interact.
The two of us received Ambassador Awards from the VAF to travel to “Out of the Loop” with our faculty sponsor, Dr. Whitney Martinko. In addition to promoting the conference on social media, we are planning on-campus events over the coming year in order to build upon our experiences in Chicago at Villanova. We would like to thank the Graduate Studies and History Department, as well as Dr. Rosier and Dr. Martinko for allowing us to participate in such an enlightening experience.
For those interested, VAF’s 2016 conference will be held in Durham, NC from June 1- June 4. The conference will focus on the wide range of resources from rural to urban, as well as the social and racial histories of the region. For those interested in presenting a paper at the conference, information can be found here: http://www.vernaculararchitectureforum.org/event-2022847.