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2019 VAF Organizing Committee: (Top row) Aaron Wunsch, Michelle
Jones, Jennifer Robinson, Michael J. Emmons, Jr. (Bottom) Jeffrey Cohen,
Catherine Morrissey, Jillian Galle, Nancy Holst.
The Assistant Director of the Center for Historic Architecture and Design, Catherine Morrissey, and CHAD's Architectural Historian Michael J. Emmons, Jr., served on the organizing committee for the 2019 Vernacular Architecture Forum's annual conference, held this year in Philadelphia.
The meeting theme was Landscapes of Succession, and as is usual with VAF conferences, many site tours were included. Morrissey and Emmons, along with Aaron Wunsch, Associate Professor in the University of Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Department, were responsible for organizing the Darby and Southwest Philadelphia tour.
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Bartrams house is located at Bartrams Garden in Philadelphia. It is the oldest
surviving botanical garden in North America.
This tour traveled primarily along Woodland Avenue, starting near University City with one of Philadelphia's earliest suburban developments, Woodland Terrace, and extended as far west as Darby's Main Street. Featured sites along the route illustrated ongoing cycles of arrival, settlement, and interaction among different ethnic groups, from the eighteenth century to the present.
The tour consistently emphasized evolving modes of farming, building, manufacturing, transportation, and worship. Key sites included country houses such as The Woodlands and Bartrams Garden; the historic St. James Episcopal Church complex and the adjacent Paschalville area; Darby Borough, which encompasses the transition from Quaker country town to industrial village; and Eastwick, which presents a new paradigm of working-class suburbanization and later urban renewal. Narratives of African-American presence are woven throughout this landscape, especially in Paschalville, Darbys Mt. Zion A.M.E. Church, and nearby Eden Cemetery.
The Darby Borough stop, especially, built on past CHAD student work. Two years of Historic Preservation capstone classes researched and documented 10 sites there, and their work provided valuable core information for the tour.
UD student presence continued with the 2019 VAF meeting, as a group of 10 students from the graduate Certificate Program in Historic Preservation and the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture received support from the VAF to attend the conference as Ambassador Awardees.