Saturday, July 17, 2010


Here's an epilogue of sorts for the field school. As soon as I arrived back in Minnesota, I had the fortune to be invited to a potluck. I made pasties, as a way to share something that I had been introduced to in Wisconsin. I thought the pasty I had in Mineral Point was mushy and bland, and after Paul mentioned to me that making them was not difficult, I wanted to give it a shot. Sure, mine contained potatoes. But also: seitan, parsnips, carrots, fennel! They were outstanding and garnered many compliments. Here's how they looked straight out of the oven:
And here's how they looked as they were being eaten and enjoyed:
The evidence doesn't lie: these were awesome pasties. And we didn't consume them uncritically: they allowed us ample opportunity to discuss the constructedness of Mineral Point's Cornish historical narrative.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Meadows House Addition Mystery

Was the addition originally separated from the house, then filled in with a second section that connected it to the house, or was it connected to the house and then the end section built later? Given the tax assessment records, it would seem that the original addition was the end area, given the description "Lot 58 and buildings." Yet the 1872 bird's eye view, completed three or four years after the addition, may indicate an attached addition. What are Bailey and I to think?

This area of the house gets even better. When looking at historic photos, Bailey and I also noticed that the now-exposed sub-basement used to be a cellar, covered with soil and wooden doors like those seen on any other cellar. Apologies for the lack of specialized vocabulary; I'm not there just yet :)

This mystery will have to wait, as class is wrapping up and we have work to hand in. I enjoyed having the opportunity to focus on a specific house, and I want to know more about the structure itself and the people who lived in there. One particular man was a tailor, using the addition most likely as his place of business. More must be known about this man and how he used this space, and I want to find this out. I would also like to do more drawing, this time doing a detail of the mantelpiece.

This is one of the first structural mysteries that has really interested me. I usually deal with objects in interiors, but I must admit that the exterior is pretty nifty in its own right; I just have a problem with vernacular historians who seem to dismiss interiors because of their inability to last due to redecoration. I may just work up some vernacular architecture street cred with Anna after all.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

one more day - yet the research continues

Stay tuned: research reports coming soon.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Last trip to Mineral Point

Today I drove back to Mineral Point one last time to check out some records Andrea found on St. Paul's Mission Church in the Mineral Point room. Turns out there was some great information in a manila file folder, most surprisingly a short letter to the editor from the current pastor in the Mineral Point Tribune in the year 1896 The pastor was writing to correct the paper's assertion that a Catholic had recently attended an episcopalian service (read between the line-converted). The pastor vehemently protested, writing that not one parishoner had left his congregation in the nearly 30 years he had served. The best part: he included statistics on births, deaths, marriages AND new members since 1870. He says very clearly that the only reason he releases this information to the general public is because it is so important to refute the newspaper's claim. Among the other things collected were several short, locally produced pamphlets on the history of the church and the congregation, and an interesting photo of the 1905 attendees. The archivist at the Mineral Point Room commented on the exceedingly stern faces of the women in the photo, which seemed to me like a bit of an understatement!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Of Dolphins and Leather Binding

I spent today back in Iowa County with several classmates. We traced deeds backwards to identify the owners and residents of some of our properties. It took me and Alex several hours to trace the ownership of the Cothren house but we did it! And the winners of the historic names contest? "Thomas T. and Melva Dolphin." This aquatically-named couple owned the house from 1958 to 1969. But we traced the deed back to Judge Cothren's widow who died in 1895. While our classmates toiled away on some much more challenging deed traces (way to hang in there guys!), Alex and I went to the Southwestern Wisconsin Room at the UW-Platteville. Apparently, the database entry that described the tax records as being in "saddlebags" was more literal than I thought. The 1840s tax records are in ledgers built in to actual leather saddlebags that were clearly carried from door to door as the taxes were collected each year. Awesome! By looking through the records for every few years we were able to narrow down the date of the kitchen addition to the Cothren's large stone house to between 1866 and 1871. There were no records between those years. Then we went to Dairy Queen. Mmmmmm....

Research Teams & Topics

The way it worked out last week, we accomplished way more by way of drawing than we expected. Thus each "team" of 3 worked on a series of buildings, and perhaps not coincidentally, related buildings. One group - Team Tiger - worked on buildings of two powerful Mineral Point settlers: Parley Eaton and Montgomery Cothren. This group also measured one of the institutions of the town, an early mission church (St. Paul's 1842). Thus this group is working on landscapes of power in Mineral Point.

Team Oddity, meanwhile, worked on "middling" houses in Mineral Point that seemed to have some sort of commercial function alongside their obvious domestic one. These houses had some formal spaces (parlors) but not nearly the same level of finish as the more elite.

Team Pendarvis focused on the smaller houses of the (perhaps) lower sorts: the miners cottages so dear to MP's history. They made some great finds, in terms of construction techniques and also patterns (especially related to root cellars).

It is amazing how much the groups are accomplishing. Stay tuned for more details.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Drafting Studio

Here are some photos of the group in our borrowed drafting room. It also functions as a meeting room, so we got to hear some theater people talk about an upcoming production. By the sound of things, it's going to be racy. Our time in the room is less than racy. The air conditioning really isn't working in the building, so we're sweating away over our drawings.

Here's a detail of Sarah, to give you a better idea of the materials we use to do the completed drawings, and the balancing act that goes on:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Draftless Drafting

My challenge today was not getting sweaty in the drafting room, for the sakes of my drawing and my neighbor. I think I did all right on that front, but dang! The stagnant air in there isn't moving at all. All things considered, I made good progress. I penciled in the basics for the three Theobold House floor plans, but I see I have plenty of details still to tackle, some of which might warrant another measuring trip to Mineral Point. Fortunately, that's more of a privilege than a burden - especially considering it's a matter of hours this time rather than four full days. And I hope I'll have an opportunity to talk more to the homeowner, since he's lived in his house for over 45 years and has witnessed firsthand a good deal of MP's preservation wave.

Cleaning Up the Drawings: Better or Worse Than Field Notes?

I am torn on this question. As I did not produce neat field notes, I can't really compare them to the finished drawing that I began today. My task was to work on the front elevation of the Meadows House. It looks okay, but I will have to finish the bay window tomorrow, after I check photos to see how many panes of glass it contains. The drawing didn't frustrate me completely, but getting started was difficult, as placing the drawings on un-gridded vellum, versus the graph paper we used last week, proved challenging. Thanks for the help Bailey, and go Team Oddity!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Good to be back...

It was a great week in Mineral Point. I finally overcame my crippling fear of drafting and enjoyed my time working with Team Pendarvis. I'm looking forward to the coming weeks in learning about the buildings we so meticulously measured last week!

tuesday afternoon

this is a brief story of team tiger's tuesday, including our interview with bob reagan at st. paul's church. may i suggest listening while checking out the pictures below?

sarah's lovely photo of our church

a cabinet of various objects

alex, sarah, and bob looking over old documents

sarah, alex, and bob, all in a row, reading

Live Action!

Bailey and Jonathon measured the gable height on the Meadows House, which was no small feat considering that we didn't have the measuring pole in our possession at the time AND the wind was blowing. They had only the tape measure, steady hands, and their wits to see them through. After a few tries, they had it. This was a very superhero moment I think. The video that follows describes a little of Bailey's further heroic adventures, along with a discussion by Jonathon of the process of drawing and cleaning them up to make a neat final product. I am also complaining about my lack of floor plan love (very stressful).

Friday, June 25, 2010

pictures and words

(press play!)

i saw anna's picture of the three of us (team tiger) standing in front of the parley eaton house, and i thought: "i have audio of that!" it's not straight audio anymore (i've played with it a bit) but i think it's fun to hear the sound that goes with the image! the rogue fourth voice you hear is andrea, who was evidently wandering in and out of anna's camera range when the picture was taken.

...And the furniture dork photographs dovetails...
This is the walnut newell post on the first floor of the Parley Eaton House.

OUR THREE BUILDINGS! Our team measured and drew parts of these really cool structures: The Cothren House (1860s), the Parley Eaton House (1847-48), and the St. Paul's Mission Church (1842). I think we have our jobs cut out for us over the next few weeks as we create finished drawings and pursue more historical research.

Anna asked me to take photos of people measuring and SOMEHOW this is all I got! I guess it's hard to take photos while holding a tape measure. Regardless, this is Sara drawing a door detail hiding from the sun under our fabulous umbrella-ladder shade contraption. And the other photo is Alex with her super cool measuring tape at the St. Paul's Mission Church built in 1842. We got the whole building in one day! (OK, it WAS a single great big rectangle but still, we did good work!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back from field school--and finally figured out how to post on the blog!

It was a great week--bootcamp bonding as well as measuring and drafting (and re-measuring and re-drafting). Very impressed with the Sara W and Sarah F S's skills! Go Team Tiger!

And then we rested

Enough said!

Tom Carter leading the charge

Surprise! Another house to measure

Oh so cool...

In the field - learning

Photos from 1st field day - lots of concentration, lots of hard work

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Tomorrow a.m., and the adventure begins. Tom Carter has arrived, and the car is packed. Fingers crossed for no rain!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Fear of Bug Repellant

I bought bug repellent last night (definitely not as cool as Sara's purchase--see below) so that a giant critter does not eat me or my drawings, but I still shudder at the thought of putting it on my skin.  What academics will do for some architecture nerdery.  In other fieldschool-related purchases, I now have a poncho and a hat which evokes The Great Gatsby.  I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to spend four days in a town as beautiful as Mineral Point! 

the joy of new hardware

(new toys are fun! hurrah for field school!)

(ps: press the play button)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ready for the field?!?!?

We had our orientation today to drawing and interviewing (especially drawing). I'm always interested in different people's reactions to it. Most students seemed to embrace it, although some seemed hesitant. This is totally normal; it is not easy to learn, especially in the abstract. I think everyone is really ready to go to Mineral Point now. We're armed with the tools, and everyone is anxious to learn from the buildings, the landscape, and the people of Mineral Point.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Who are the masons?

Seriously...did the Cornish build mineral point? Census challenges this. Germans, Irish..,maybe not the Cornish. Great research everyone!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Group Learning

After spending a year doing a lot of research for my own papers and presentations, it's really fun spending this week learning as part of our field school group. It's amazing what 9 students (and of course our fearless professor) can pull together in just a few days. We are all well on our way to being able to dive right in when we get to Mineral Point (looks like we'll also be wanting to dive right into the town's public pool... ).

Monday, June 14, 2010

1st class

Great 1st class today. Very diverse group of students - 9 in all - consisting of art historians, artists, and geographers. There was great energy. I just wish we were out in the field tomorrow. Next week can't come soon enough.

What a diverse group

1st class today. What struck me most lay with first, the energy of the students, and second, how different their backgrounds were. Artists, geographers, art historians...but with different interests. Looks to be a great group!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fieldschool 2010 Houses

These are some of the houses we'll be working on for this year's fieldschool. They show the range of two-room mining cottages built in Mineral Point during the territorial period (1840s). Generally thought to be built by Cornish stonemasons, these cottages have not been extensively documented despite the regard in which they are held by local residents.

Picture credits: Tom Carter, Univ. of Utah

Thursday, June 3, 2010


This blog is for the University of Wisconsin's Architectural Fieldschool for 2010 in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Students and faculty will regularly post - so check back for updates,