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SPPA Professor Emeritus David Ames
One of the reasons I chose Louisville, Kentucky, as a place to retire was because of its historic architecture. It has a great diversity of the colorful romantic revival styles of the second half of the nineteenth century: Italianate with it brackets, Second Empire with its mansard roofs, Queen Anne with corner towers, and Romanesque with big arches. In terms of parks, it is famous for having the largest collection of Frederick Law Olmsted parks in the country. The founder of the field of landscape architecture Olmsted and Calvert Vaux were the designers of Central Park in New York City.
A great aspect of being retired is being able to concentrate on your research. So, my first goal was to figure out what caused all this historic architectural diversity. It turns out that as Louisville industrialized it grew very rapidly from 1850 to 1920adding thousands of new residents each decade. This created a demand for new housing, which was provided in the latest architectural styles and changed almost by the decade, thus explaining the great diversity.
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Sponsored by the Louisville Historic Society, I presented my findings publically in a paper entitled Exploring Louisville's Candy Store of Historic Architecture. From that research, I developed an interest in two house types, shotguns and bungalow, which I am now researching.
Because I had had some association with the Olmsted Conservancy before coming to Louisville, I was appointed as a steward to the conservancy and park system and had begun to learn more about the parks. Coincidentally, last spring, the Preserving Historic Roads program in the National Park Service issued a call for papers to its September conference in Colorado.
This gave me an opportunity to continue my work on historic roads that I had long pursued at the Center for Historic Architecture and Design (CHAD) for the Byways Program of the Delaware Department of Transportation. In looking at the research on Olmsted, I noticed that much more attention had been paid to his parks than his parkways, which were what made his parks into a system. I proposed a paper on the parkways of Olmsted and Vaux, which was accepted, and I presented that paper last month.
I have been invited to return to Wilmington, Delaware, on November 8, to speak at the dinner marking the 25th anniversary of the Quaker Hill Historic Foundation. Additionally, Dr. Danilo Yanich has invited me to present the Olmsted/Vaux paper to his class on the afternoon of November 8I hope to see many familiar faces there.