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A student holds a tape measure against a doorjamb.
A field school student measures a historic interior.

Architectural Field School

2015 Summer Architectural Field School

College of William and Mary and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Architectural Field School, History 413/590
Carl Lounsbury, Instructor


June 1–July 3, 2015

A one-story vernacular house.
The Umstead House in Durham County, NC, was a tenant house on the Cameron Plantation.

Class Description

The Colonial Williamsburg Architectural Research Department in conjunction with the College of William and Mary’s National Institute of American History and Democracy offers a five-week course this summer that is open to all undergraduate and graduate students as well as those with a special interest in early American architecture and historic preservation. This field school is intended to introduce students to the methods used in the investigation and recording of historic buildings. They will learn how to read construction technology and stylistic details to determine the age of various features, use period terminology to describe buildings, take field notes and measurements, and produce CAD drawings, which are the fundamental skills necessary to produce Historic Structure Reports.

Following several introductory lectures on building technology and architectural features, students will study structures in the Historic Area of Williamsburg and visit buildings in the surrounding Tidewater region. During the fourth week, students will document farmsteads, churches, and other sites in Piedmont North Carolina in preparation for the Vernacular Architecture Forum's Annual Conference to be held in Durham, NC, in June 2016. Students will measure, record, and describe a variety of buildings that will be seen on the conference tours. During this time, they will be in residence in the region. Back in Williamsburg for the final week, they will convert their fieldwork into measured CAD drawings and write reports on their sites.

Except for the fourth week, this class will meet four days a week, Monday through Thursday, from 10:00 to 4:30 at Bruton Heights School, the Colonial Williamsburg research campus. It will require travel (in a van) and some physical exercise.

Registration and More Information

Registration through the College of William and Mary is required for the course. For more information about the nature of the course, please email Carl Lounsbury at or call 757-220-7654.