Entries tagged with “Documentation”.

The first day of documentation class for the class of 2015 was last Saturday, September 14!

First day of documentation for the class of 2015! Thanks to Penn Farm for allowing us to use their wonderful site as a learning tool!

Travis and Heather take exterior measurements.


Meg and Molly and the door!


All photos in this post are original content belonging to Rebecca Sheppard and Cate Morrissey.

The next few posts are going to look back at some of the projects we’ve taken part in over the past year, so we can bring you all up to speed on what we’ve accomplished as a research center and a program.  Our first post will share some of our wonderful experiences in Fredericksburg, VA this past spring.


Fredericksburg, April 2013

Back row: Professor Michael Spencer (University of Mary Washington), Alex Tarantino, Laura Proctor
Front: Jenifer Andersen (’13), Jenn Nichols (’13), Keisha Gonzalez, Gab Vicari

In February, Dr. Sheppard, Cate, myself, and another current second-year attended the National Barn Alliance conference in Fredericksburg, VA.  The tour that followed the presentations was wonderful, and included a visit to a historic plantation called Sherwood Forest, about six miles outside of town.

Granted in the mid-1600s to William Ball, the land was passed down through the family until 1778.  At one time, it was owned by Mary Ball Washington, mother of George Washington.  During the Civil War, the property was a defensible position for the Union, who used the house as a hospital and reconnaissance point.  In 2011, Clint Schemmer of fredericksburg.com wrote a great article discussing the site’s history, which you can find here.

Today, the property is abandoned.  The acres upon acres of gorgeous farmland are home to an early 1800s brick manor house with original moldings, a family burial plot, several 1920s dairy barns, a detached kitchen, and an extant duplex slave cabin.

The early 1800s manor house at Sherwood Forest.

Detail of a second floor fireplace surround.

First floor room, rear of house.  Possibly a parlor?  It’s really sad to see the house’s condition.

The duplex slave cabin at Sherwood Forest is literally crumbling to the ground. We had the misfortune of disturbing a very cranky tabby cat who has taken up residence on the second floor!

The floor at the slave cabin is rotting away, but exposes really excellent details like these dovetailed joists!  The exterior walls had also been filled with brick and rubble as nogging.

The land is set to be developed and some of the outbuildings torn down, so we volunteered to help Professor Michael Spencer of the University of Mary Washington and some students with documentation on site.  We focused on small, easily-accomplished projects, such as door details, fireplace details, and a floor plan of the kitchen.

Heading into the kitchen!

Keisha, Laura, and Becky (holding the board) document a massive fireplace in the old kitchen.

We also got a great lesson from Professor Spencer on using TachyCAD in the field.  Hopefully CHAD can acquire one of these beauties in the future.  It’s a wonderful piece of technology, and we were all very appreciative of his tutorial!

Michael Spencer (University of Mary Washington) teaches some CHADsters how to use TachyCAD equipment at the dairy barns.

As one of the students who went on the April trip, I found it to be a really enriching experience.  I had attended the National Barn Alliance conference with the group in February, and so had been to Sherwood Forest already.  It’s a breathtakingly pleasant, bucolic, and peaceful spot, and it’ll be a shame to see the landscape filled with houses.  Measured drawings are not really my cup of tea, but it was worth it to take part in generating a documentary record for a farm with so much history and beauty.  I wish this could have been a larger-scale project for CHAD, but Newark is sadly a long way from Fredericksburg.  It seems like there’s a diverse and fascinating historical record associated with Sherwood Forest, and I would have enjoyed working with those stories.

Looking west towards the Rappahannock River from the hill at Sherwood Forest.  This land will soon be a housing development.


For interested readers, here are some more articles and blog posts about Sherwood Forest and the ongoing preservation battle surrounding this lovely and historically important site.

“Stafford’s Sherwood Forest on endangered list,” by Clint Schemmer.  May 23, 2011.

“History in the balance- Sherwood Forest and its crumbling slave cabin,” by National Park Service Staff.  June 11, 2010.


All photos in this post are original content belonging to Gabrielle Vicari.

Hello again, preservation enthusiasts and friends!  It’s been almost two years since this blog was updated last, but we’re back and ready to share our research, documentation, and planning adventures with the world!

There’s been a lot of changes and exciting news over the past year in our department.  We graduated our second class of MA-HP students in May 2013, and just got a new group of first years, our lovely and talented Class of 2015!

We moved back to our home on the third floor of Alison Hall, which has been renovated and is absolutely beautiful.  We’re all very thrilled to have windows and such a nice workspace!

Project-wise, we’ve been extremely busy! Over the past two years, we have…

  • Continued work on the White Clay Creek Dams project in Fall 2012’s Research Methods class, researching and presenting on several of the historic dams
  • Progressed in our efforts at preserving and organizing the Delaware Board of Agriculture’s Hammond Collection through creating an organized reference database and rephotographing some of the images using a large format camera
  • Conducted research and documentation at New Castle’s Penn Farm as the Class of 2013’s capstone project
  • Carried out two separate projects in Delaware City:  interviewing residents as part of an oral history project, and researching and documenting the Eastern Lock of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal
  • Researched and produced measured drawings of historic properties such as Poplar Hall, the Jester-Day House, and the J.A. Bidderman Estate, throughout New Castle County through a partnership with MAHBS
  • Surveyed diverse intrinsic quality sites throughout the state to assist DelDOT in developing a potential new Scenic and Historic Byway as part of their Delaware Byways program

That was just to catch you all up, but stay tuned for another post this week about what we’ve got in store this year!

The Formidable Barn

Saturday December 3rd marked the end of another fall documentation class. This year’s final took the students to Kacanda Farm in Birdsboro, PA. A recent graduate of the program, Leah Kacanda, invited the class to her father’s old farm complex. In the tradition of documentation finals, none of the students had seen the property before.

The fall 2010 documentation class also drew parts of Kacanda Farm for their documentation final last year. The previous class focused their efforts on a very early log house. While this years documentation class focused on a beautiful stone bank barn. One crew drew the second floor of the bank barn, another the elevation of the barn that the two floors are visible, and the last team drew a gable-end elevation, as well as an interior framing section.

The weather was beautiful especially for December, and the Kacandas cooked and provided everyone with lunch! Leah made sausages with fixings, pasta salad, green salad, and a coffee crumb cake. Copious amounts of coffee were also available throughout the day!

2011 Documentation Class

CHAD would like to extend a super special thank-you to the Kacandas for inviting us into your house! See everyone in Fall 2012 for another Documentation Class!

This past Saturday marked the last regular class for UAPP 631. The class has been meeting bi-weekly on Saturdays at the John Dickinson Plantation. Previously the class learned how to draw floor plans in the tenant house, front elevations on the double corn-crib granary, they completed an interior of framing section of the barn, and this Saturday the class focused their efforts in learning how to draw a site-plan.

Unlike the previous documentation skills the class had been exposed to site plans, and how you draw and measure them are completely different from the other drawings. Unlike everything else, you draw first. The class got acquainted with this alternate and new approach to field documentation. The went forth and drew, and collectively came back together. Unlike other field drawings, sometimes how site plans are drawn varies from person to person.

After drawing the class was split up in to two teams. Each team started on a different side of the John Dickinson Plantation, and eventually crossed paths in the center. Also unique to site plans is the fact that you can start just about anywhere on site, and still end up with the same results. How you measure for site plans is also completely different than any other field documentation technique. Because the primary concern revolves around place the buildings in relation to one another, instead of getting one measurement for a point you get three. You literally created a triangle for each point on site, to place it within the larger context!

After completing the site plans, the class discussed their final. The final won’t be at the John Dickinson Plantation, instead it is at a mystery location! The class has been asked to put some forethought into what type of drawing they will be working on for the final, section, elevation, floorplans, etc. The documentation final will be Saturday December 3rd!

Another fall, another Documentation of Historic Structures Class. Documentation (UAPP631) focuses on learning to create scaled, annotated field notes of historic resources in preparation for making measured drawings of buildings. Students work as part of a team to record a variety of buildings through plans, sections, elevations and details. Documentation meets every other Saturday during the fall semester, and this past Saturday marked the third meeting.

This year’s class has been learning how to draw at the John Dickinson Plantation in Kitts Hummock Vicinity, De.  The class has been focusing their efforts on drawing some of the reconstructed outbuildings on the site. So far the class has drawn the tenant house, as well as the corn crib/granary.  At  the next session of class (October 29th) the class will be working on the barn.

On October 1st, the class started with floor plans on the tenant house.  This past Saturday (Oct. 15) the class completed their first elevation drawings of the front elevation of the corn crib/granary combo building.

The John Dickinson Plantation is a perfect place to learn to document. It is a state-owned property, with working bathrooms, as well as historical re-enactors, and a large public audience, who ask a lot of questions.


For more information on the UAPP631 and JDPlantation please visit :