This summer, I had the opportunity to work with the Urban Heritage Project through Penn Praxis. This summer, UHP was involved in three projects in the Washington, D.C. area including Memorial Avenue bridge and surrounding area, Georgetown’s C&O Canal, and the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site. While I was able to observe and lightly participate in the work on C&O Canal and Memorial Avenue, my main focus this summer was on the Council House. My work contributed to the preparation of a Cultural Landscape Report for the Council House which included archival research, conditions write ups, and treatment recommendations in the future. My work largely involved writing the historic conditions and existing conditions sections that exist in the Evaluation and Analysis section. By observing historic photographs, conducting archival research, and scanning previous documentation of the site, I was able to outline the historic conditions of some of the major features of the cultural landscape. Multiple site visits throughout the internship allowed me to write the existing conditions section. Pulling on my knowledge from our Theories course, I also contributed to the analysis of integrity which was an interesting exercise in evaluating the significance of different historic periods, changes, and potential treatments in the future.
My site visits also allowed me to observe some of the mapping techniques used in the preparation if Cultural Landscape Reports and Cultural Landscape Inventories. Using a GPS device called an Arrow, we were able to mark points on a map digitally that could be transferred into GIS to create site maps with features accurately positioned. Working with technology can always be finicky, so some technical difficulties meant that I was not able to actually create the map for the site on GIS. Nonetheless, I was able to get experience with field mapping by working on the C&O Canal project.
This internship was a great experience. I got to learn about the different reports that are used to document and treat cultural landscapes, something that was totally new to me both professionally and academically. My experience of working with the Urban heritage Project folks was great, getting to learn from both Penn program graduates and grads of other programs with different experiences was a highlight of my summer.