Planning, Development and Preservation


Class of 2015

Claire Achtyl


Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Design, University at Buffalo

I grew up outside of Rochester, New York with a broad range of interests in high school,. It wasn’t until I went to Europe when I was 16 that I figured out I wanted to do something architecture related. I went to University at Buffalo as an Architecture major and it didn’t take long to figure out that I was out of place. My peers had dreams of designing the next skyscraper or museum, but I loved historic and existing structures. So I switched my major to Environmental Design after a year in Architecture. I loved Urban Planning and getting the broader focus of cities and how they grow and adapt to changing times or why they decline. In Urban Planning, I had the chance to focus on Historic Preservation as a sector of planning in some of my classes. Charleston had first sparked my interest in history and the history of architecture and has since inspired me, so what better place to study preservation. I enjoy the material, methods, and structural conservation area of preservation.

For further study this year, my thesis topic will delve into Molana Abbey, a structure with its roots in the 6th century, however ruinous today. It sits along the Blackwater River in County Waterford, Ireland. The abbey has a long history, and for my thesis I will conduct mortar analysis on samples taken from the structure in June of 2014.  These samples will allow me to date areas of change within the structure and more confidently date its many different building campaigns. 

Amber Anderson


Bachelor of Arts in Art, Bachelor of Arts in History, The College of Idaho

I was born and raised in Ontario, Oregon and earned my undergraduate degree from The College of Idaho in 2010. While the term “historic preservation” didn’t cross my path until after college, I have always been interested in public history and the structures associated with it.  My favorite childhood memories involve exploring the remains of an abandoned mining town where my great grandfather once worked. Beginning with these early encounters, my fascination with the tangible connections to the past only continued to grow. 
After graduating from college, while beginning work in both office management and retail, I set out to find a field that incorporated both of my majors and had essentially decided to apply for architectural history graduate programs.  When a random internet search landed me on the website of a historic preservation program, I had one of those light bulb moments.  I knew I had to know more and, as a result, began volunteering with Preservation Idaho and interned for their Education Committee, attended a National Trust Conference, and participated in the University of Oregon’s Pacific Northwest Field School.  Though I never saw it coming, two years later I couldn’t be happier to be studying in such a preservation minded city as Charleston.  While my post-graduation plans are almost entirely open at this point, I currently see myself most drawn to the documentation aspect of preservation.

In my thesis I plan to explore the challenges of preserving secondary spaces through the lens of Fallingwater's bathrooms.

Shannon Devlin


Bachelor of Arts in Art History, Pennsylvania State University

My desire to attend Graduate School for Historic Preservation sprung forth from a love for awe-inspiring architecture, as well as from my college career.  However, figuring out that’s what I wanted to do wasn’t as easy as I just made it sound!  I grew up in State College, Pennsylvania; always described as “where Penn State is” since not many people know the town away from Penn State. 
I graduated from Penn State in December of 2011 with a degree in Art History; but when I started I had no idea what I wanted to study.  I knew I loved old buildings – the architecture as well as the history – but I never realized I could actually pursue that as a career path.  I stumbled upon an Architectural Survey class in the Art History department my second semester and I was hooked.  I love the symmetry and beauty of Renaissance art and architecture, so that was my focus, but I still did not want to do Art History as a career.  And then one day it dawned on me that I could do Historic Preservation as a career.  I could work with those old buildings I love!  After my realization, I began to tailor my remaining semester to preservation.  I interned with the Centre County Historical Society (CCHS) where I accessioned and catalogued architectural drawings of a local architect.  Also that semester I took a hands-on class in 19th century Pennsylvania architecture and restoration where I was able to help restore a log house in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, and explore many of the architectural gems in the area.  Restoring that log house, exploring Pennsylvania architecture, and working with the CCHS archives, made me realize, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I wanted to do that in some facet or another for the rest of my life.              
As a final project in the restoration class Professor Dick Pencek and the Art History Department co-sponsored a trip to Charleston to give me the opportunity to research southern architecture, and that was when I knew I wanted to attend graduate school here. I fell in love with Charleston and am so excited to be able to spend my next two years here!   

My thesis will investigate and analyze the material culture of Drayton Hall from 1738 to 1820 to gain an understanding of the interiors of the house to further develop the interpretation of the site. 

Jackie Don


Bachelor of Science in Archaeological Science, Pennsylvania State University

Home for me is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and as I grew up in it I realize now that the appreciation and application of historic preservation grew in that city right along with me. I saw the abandoned steel mills and factories of my youth either get revitalized and reused as apartments, museums, or restaurants or turned into successful economic areas. I was drawn to these surviving physical connections to the past and history of my hometown more than the new malls popping up here and there. This along with small weekend excursions and vacations to many a historic site with my mother and unenthused siblings fostered my love of the past and the desire to preserve and uncover the mysteries it holds.
This passion led me to Pennsylvania State University where I majored in Archaeological Science and minored in History. I took the opportunity to go to Egypt with some of my professors and learned just how satisfying it was to dig up artifacts that had been buried in the sand and forgotten for thousands of years and the joy of trying to piece together these clues to create a picture of life in this ancient city.  One of my favorite tasks on the excavation was attempting to find the western wall of a half exposed temple. By finding the wall we could try to reconstruct what it might have looked like. This reignited my equal appreciation of objects and the built environment for unveiling the past.
After graduation, I worked for a cultural resource management firm and excavated throughout the Midwest and North Dakota. As archaeologists we focused on the earth, yet if we encountered a historic structure we had to interpret and document it to the best of our abilities until someone better trained could examine it. This only strengthened in my mind the bond I knew existed between the two disciplines and while applying for graduate school I pursued my interests through a degree in historic preservation.

The Clemson/ College of Charleston program turned out to be exactly what I was searching for and more. I am looking forward to my second year in the program and pursuing a thesis that will focus on examining the building campaign and periods of repair in Charleston’s 17th and 18th century sea wall fortifications through chemical and compositional testing on brick samples.

Alison Dunleavy


Bachelor of Arts in Art History, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

I have always loved old things. I grew up in Chicago, Illinois, learning about history and art from my frequent childhood trips to the many museums and theaters in Chicago (the Field Museum is my favorite, I love the way it smells). My first semester at SIU was spent hand drafting in the architecture department where I realized I didn’t want to draw straight lines all day and promptly switched my major to my real love, ceramics. I had always been interested in early renaissance and medieval art, and after my first medieval art history class, I was hooked. I studied for a semester in Florence, Italy, the birthplace of the Renaissance, where I was surrounded by all of the things I had seen in my art history books. Walking through the streets of Florence every day forced me to look at remnants of the past and to consider how they influenced the future of the city. It was truly an amazing experience.
After graduation, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I loved working with my hands and making art, but I was also interested in the scholastic rigors of art history. I took a job as a picture framer at a local art supply/framing store in Chicago where I learned about conservation framing. The combination of the hands on work and the scientific aspect of conservation, along with my experiences in Florence led me to explore historic preservation. My art installations had focused on the way people interact with a space; studying the history of people’s interactions with buildings is an aspect of preservation that fascinates me. I hope to learn much more about the roles that people played in shaping a building’s use while here in Charleston.

This year, my thesis will explore the role of finishes analysis in determining building feature chronology.

Katie Dykens


Bachelor of Arts in Art History - Public Art and Architectural Culture, University of San Diego

I have lived in many places: most recently San Diego, but I have also spent time in Iowa and Michigan. As a high school student and even later in college I had wide-ranging interests, from biology to history to art and literature, but eventually decided on pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Art History with an emphasis in Public Art and Architectural Culture at the University of San Diego.  I have had a variety of jobs, ranging from working at the San Diego Natural History Museum to the City of San Diego's Environmental Services Department, where I conducted legislative research and analysis in sustainability issues.  I am currently employed at the Aiken-Rhett House Museum here in Charleston, and also work as a Graduate Assistant for the College of Charleston's undergraduate Historic Preservation program.

I love the puzzle-solving aspects of historical research and embrace the idea of being able to connect with other intellectually curious people in my career. My hobbies include sewing from vintage patterns, hiking, and maintaining salt-water aquaria, although I had to leave my tank behind when I left San Diego.

My thesis will explore the memorialization of Denmark Vesey in the Charleston area, including the house at 56 Bull Street, the statue in Hampton Park, the painting which has hung in the Gaillard Auditorium, and the memorial found at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church which his son designed.  I intend to discuss the history and effectiveness of each instance of memorialization in an effort to address the larger question of how the memorialization of an important but controversial African-American figure is navigated in Charleston.  In turn, I hope to shed some light on the ways in which preservationists may or may not assist in the process of remembering this sort of historical figure."

Lauren Hoopes


Bachelor of Arts in History, University of Pittsburgh

I hail from Downingtown, Pa, a suburb within an hour’s drive west of Philadelphia.  My Undergraduate work took me across Pennsylvania to the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pa where I worked towards my Bachelor of Arts in History.  I was studying the World Wars believing I would go into teaching, but I managed to almost always slip an art history, photography, or architecture class in as an elective.  During my senior year at U of Pitt an opportunity finally presented itself to study abroad in London, a place I had dreamed about since, well, forever.  I was to study over there for my Fall Semester and return to finish up my Undergrad degree in the Spring Semester and then begin thinking about how to pursue my teaching career.  One of the best trips of my life, I discovered that when looking through my camera at the thousands of pictures I had taken, over three-quarters of them were of building ornamentation, gardens settled beneath sprawling castles, and history-laden brick work.  I had always been unsure about becoming a teacher and that trip assured me I wasn’t up to the task.  My love of photography, travel, and historic places was exponentially strengthened while studying abroad in London and during my last semester at the University of Pittsburgh I began my new journey towards Historic Preservation.  Academically speaking, I have been partially working towards this throughout my academic career, but my interests have been steering me towards this career for my whole 23 years.

My thesis will mimic a thematic study for the National Register of Historic Places on the topic of Mental Illness Asylums in the United States and their possible underrepresentation on national historic listings.  Their importance in medical history and physical condition today will be examined to determine if these buildings are deemed important in contemporary society.

Taylor Johnston

Taylor Johnston

Bachelor of Arts in History and Comparative Literature, University of Georgia

As an individual always interested in the Arts and creative endeavors, it was initially hard for me to define what I wanted to do with myself when I graduated from the University of Georgia. With a Bachelor of Arts in History and Comparative Literature, I could certainly find some sort of academic path to take in the professional world; however, I wanted to be able to fuse my creative passions with some sort of practicality. That being said, the program in Historic Preservation at Clemson University and the College of Charleston has provided me a path with which to direct my slightly unusual interests—learning everything from historic materials and methods of construction to Historic Preservation Theory and its research methods, I couldn’t be excited for what’s to come next.  I’d like to apply what I’m learning to rehabilitation and restoration contracting, but then again, there are so many other fields of study, research, and application that the program could guide me until then! Outside of school, I have a jewelry business that keeps me pretty busy. Otherwise, I’m a football enthusiast (Go Dawgs!), an avid runner, a junk collector, and a lover of the culinary arts. If I don’t have my face in a book these days, you can probably find me in any of local eateries around town.

In my thesis, I hope to share the “untold” history of the Board of Architectural Review in the city of Charleston, South Carolina, evaluating the evolution of its growth, identity, and authority, the leaders involved, and the philosophies that have guided the process in the past eight decades.

Frankie Pinto


Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

When I was a child we lived many places, traveling for my Dad’s job, but no matter where we were we always taught that we were from South Carolina, Charleston specifically. It’s not a far stretch as my grandfather was born on Anson Street and my dad grew up west of the Ashley. Even when I lived elsewhere I spent every summer in the low country, often working downtown. I wasn’t quite sure what to do after I finished my undergrad, working as an architect seemed like it would wrong Charleston somehow. I almost stumbled into Historic Preservation by accident. My brother tells people that “old stuff’ makes me happy. So why not study “old stuff” in a place I love? I am jealously protective of my Charleston, even with all its faults. My uncle says that once you take that first breath off the salt marshes, Charleston gets in your blood and never lets go; people that are from Charleston never leave and people that aren’t never stay. When not studying I volunteer with a local search and rescue group, I am a “victim” for training search dogs; otherwise I spend as much time as possible on the water; tubing, fishing, and kayaking.

My thesis will explain why the production of bricks along the Cooper River is significant to the low country through the completion of a thorough investigation into the brick industries at Grove Plantation in St. Thomas Parish.

Sarah Sanders


Bachelors of Arts in Historic Preservation, University of Mary Washington

I have always considered myself lucky to have spent the entirety of my twenty-two years in the same 1850s farmhouse in Mansfield, Ohio. Growing up on a small farm in the Midwest was as you might expect: corn, cows, the county fair and drive your tractor to school day, and I loved every minute of it. Although I didn't appreciate it at the time, I had the blessing of great parents who loved to pack my two sisters and me into the backseat of our car and we would traverse all over the country in pursuit of historic houses, museums, battlefields...you name it. I think it was this wide exposure at a young age that got me hooked on history. It was on one of these many trips that I ventured to the fair state of Virginia for the first time and visited James Madison's Montpelier during the early days of the house’s restoration. After seeing what was going on with the project, I knew that was what I wanted to do- I wanted to spend my life working with historic buildings.

After doing a bit of research during my senior year of high school, I discovered the field of historic preservation and I was enamored with the idea. I did some extensive digging into undergraduate programs and decided to head back to Virginia to pursue my Bachelors of Arts in Historic Preservation at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg. During my time as an undergrad I had some awesome opportunities to work two summers as a NCPE intern with the National Park Service, one summer in Jackson, Wyoming and the other in Omaha, Nebraska. I also had the chance the summer of my junior year to work for the British architectural firm Purcell in their cultural heritage sector. These experiences made me realize I was headed in the right direction- I love being out in the field and working with historic structures and that is something that I hope to continue to focus on during my time here in Charleston. So after graduation this past spring, I packed my bags and headed to the deep south to indulge my inner preservation nerd for two  more years while I work to complete my masters.

My thesis this year will look at the most effective and feasible way to incorporate the duPont legacy into the broader narrative at James Madison's Montpelier, specifically through the lens of a preservation plan. 

Justin Schwebler


Bachelor of Arts in History, Northern Kentucky University

I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio but raised across the river near Union, Kentucky. Even as a young child I had an early appreciation for history, running through Gunpowder Creek playing “Indians” with my sister and our friends, while always looking forward to family vacations in historical cities like Williamsburg, St. Augustine, and of course Charleston. My love of history grew throughout my early education, and also with the stories of my own family lineage. Fast-forwarding a few years I decided to follow my passion and seek a BA in History at Northern Kentucky University after a few fruitless years at the University of Louisville as an “undecided” major. This was a life changing period for me as I came to see history as more than just a reading hobby, but as an avenue I wanted to pursue for my career.
Struggling to find a way I could actively work in a historical field aside from teaching, I came across the MSHP program at Clemson/College of Charleston while randomly browsing their website and I was instantly hooked. I’m looking forward to working hands on in our historical built environment, taking on an active role in documenting and preserving history in a way I couldn’t have imagined even a short time ago. Outside of school I am still an obnoxious history buff, but mostly I enjoy hiking, fishing, kayaking etc. I also have a fascination with the arts and dabble in painting and photography. I’m unsure of where the MSHP program will take me, but there are a great number of opportunities in the preservation field back home in Cincinnati, although I would also love a chance to work within the National Park system, especially out west.

My thesis will be exploring the History of Bermuda Stone through its importation, value, and use throughout the city of Charleston, South Carolina.

Melanie Weston


Bachelor of Arts in History, Mills College

Born and raised in rural, central Maine, I’ve had a personal interest in historic preservation since childhood. Growing up in an early 19th century farmhouse, issues of rehabilitation and preservation were always on my mind. Throughout my life, I constantly found myself drawn to older buildings, but not knowing that preservation was even a field of study I could go into, I sought my undergraduate degree in history from Mills College in Oakland, California. With an emphasis in American history and a minor in anthropology, I graduated in 2012 and then took a year off from school. During that time, I dabbled in archaeology (an amateur passion of mine), completing a two week field school at a Paleo-Indian site in Northern New Hampshire, and worked at bakery located in an old bank building (adaptive reuse at its best). Besides history and archaeology, my other interests include archival science, country music, long road trips, cactus gardening, and furniture restoration. While I am unsure what area of historic preservation I would like to go into for the long haul, I am certain these next two years will help me to see where I will fit best.

My thesis will focus on how rising sea levels will impact National Historic Landmarks and what are the best options for mitigating those effects.

Laura Lee Worrell


Bachelor of Science in Building Construction and Design, Virginia Tech

I grew up in Suffolk, Virginia, in an old farm house that my dad had remodeled in his twenties. I often explored neighboring farm houses and sheds that were left to the elements, curious about who had lived in them, where they had gone, and how they had built the structures. Most of my family vacations growing up consisted of visiting historic places such as Jamestown, Monticello, Charleston, and many more. When I was 16 years old I met a former Clemson/College of Charleston Historic Preservation graduate. That meeting with her was a defining moment for me when I realized I could do this, something I was fiercely passionate and curious about, for a living.
I attended Virginia Tech were I majored in Building Construction and Design and received a minor in Real Estate. I got to help build log cabins, work with amazing construction industry professionals, and learn from talented professors who were experts in various fields. With the knowledge and skills I have obtained from my undergraduate degree, I am ecstatic to begin my next chapter here at Clemson University/College of Charleston MSHP program.

My thesis will explore the potential uses of Building Information Modeling within the Historic Preservation profession. The focus will be to aid historic resource managing organizations, entities, or institutions to more effectively manage maintenance, budget, store and track historical information and changes, and the interpretation of their historic resources

Class of 2016

Jane Ashburn


Bachelor of Fine Arts, Cumberland University

I blame a great deal of my love for historic preservation on my mother. Her love of staring at old houses and sighing that "if only they could talk" must have affected me on some deep, intrinsic level as a child, because now, I find myself in the exact same mindset.
After my public schooling had ended, I attended Cumberland University working towards a Fine Art degree with a minor in history, from which I would graduate in 2014. Upon entering college, I had simply desired "to work in a museum", and felt an art history education would properly guide me forward. I wanted to take care of the old things I revered and assist others in gaining understanding in them as well.  These snippets of the physical culture of the past seemed sacred to me, and I inherently felt the desire to protect them.
During my junior year of college, I was introduced to Historic Preservation through a chance encounter with a book of the same title in the university bookstore. I bought it on the spot and immediately signed up for the class in which the book was required. In the class, I glimpsed a way I could use my varied skill sets to work towards a unified goal. My professor kindly guided me through the initially murky waters to allow my dual love of history and the cultural materials to come to a head in Historic Preservation.
It is my desire to learn the skills needed to not only promote preservation, but also the sustainability of the historic house. I would enjoy working within a community to strengthen, not only the historic fabric, but also the economy.
I am very excited to be attending the Clemson and College of Charleston Historic Preservation program. I hope to further narrow my view on my career after school through the knowledge provided in my tenure here. I feel these next two years will be beneficial in learning the techniques and skills needed to succeed in my field.

Amanda Brown


MFA Interior Design, University of Georgia

Growing up in the South, I developed a passion for the old structures and antebellum houses that define our region.  I was intrigued by the mystery of what lay inside; why the structure was built, its purpose, what led to its abandonment, and the story it had to share.  I knew from an early age that I wanted to build and design, so started my career with a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from the University of Georgia.  My love of history and construction propelled me to the Historic Preservation field.  I wanted interaction on a local scale that was more than building house after house.
I had the privilege of living and studying in Cortona, Italy, and this experience boosted my career path towards the preservation field.  Not only is the food and wine delicious, but Italy is a living classroom for historic preservation.  It was astounding to stand among so many “old” things!  The love and appreciation that the country has for its architecture is so inspiring!
By joining this preservation family, I want to change the way that our country looks at our surrounding structures.  I am ecstatic to begin a new chapter in Charleston with the Clemson Preservation program!  I could not think of a more perfect place to begin this journey!  When I’m not gawking at beautiful architecture, you can find me watching UGA football (Go DAWGS!), traveling, hiking, or on the water!

Naomi Doddington


B.F.A. Theatre Production emphasis Set Design/Scenic Artistry, University of Florida

I’m a native of Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico but “grew up” in Upstate New York. I’ve always been interested in history and, as an avid reader; I enjoy reading biographies and non-fiction work focused on the past. I remember watching episodes of “This Old House” since I was a little kid, and was always in awe of the work of the cast, especially the specialists they would periodically feature. Even so, it did not occur to me that Historic Preservation was a “thing” until several years after I received my undergraduate degree.

While living in Chicago, I really fell in love with architecture and was all set to study to become an architect. Instead, long story short, I got a degree in Set Design. My favorite part of my program was all the visual research that I did for each show, and I was able to become very familiar with historic periods and vernacular styles. A long and meandering path led me to Charleston in 2005 and I have loved being immersed in this environment. I have worked in a lot of varied fields, including as a professional photographer, a teacher, an actor/writer/director, set and costume designer. I always knew that I would return to school for an advanced degree and, after learning of the Clemson Program, I decided that the time had come. I hope to use my degree to work in the field, as well as to reach out as an educator in both academic and lay environments.

John Evangelist


Bachelor of Science in History, Austin Peay State University

Raised in Greenbrier, Tennessee, a small one red-light town just north of Nashville, I came to love history at a very young age.  My mother’s family had lived in our county for over 200 years raising dark fired tobacco and other crops.  My father’s family moved to the U.S. in the early 1800s from Abruzzo, Italy and resided in Manhattan where my great-grandfather was a tailor.  I was fortunate enough to experience these two polar opposites, culturally and historically, fascinated by the family stories on both sides.  Two years into undergrad I took a break and moved to Washington D.C. for politics.  I enrolled at George Washington University in a Political Management program but the longer I lived in D.C., the more I fell in love with history and knew interest in politics was diminishing. Returning to Tennessee I interned at the local archives to assist in county research and to conduct research of my own interest and finished my degree in History at Austin Peay State University.  Ultimately these factors and life experiences are what led me to pursue my passion for history and eventually would lead me to the Masters of Preservation program here at Clemson & The College of Charleston.

Brent Fortenberry


College of William and Mary, Bachelors of Arts, Anthropology, emphasis Historical Archaeology

I am originally from Woodbridge, Virginia, and I have academic training in anthropology with an emphasis in historical archaeology from the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia. The majority of my research has taken place on Bermuda, working closely with the Bermuda National Trust and National Museum of Bermuda on projects in the colonial capital of St. George’s as well as Smith’s and Southampton Parishes. Most recently, I collaborated with the College of William and Mary, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and Falmouth Heritage Renewal on projects in Falmouth, and Trelawney Parish on the north coast of Jamaica. I also have field experience in the Chesapeake and England. I am primarily interested in the development of British Atlantic vernacular architecture from a comparative perspective, and the rise of early modern urban landscapes. Beyond field research, I am interested in issues of preservation, heritage, and the post-colonial politics of the Caribbean and Atlantic islands.

Jessica Fortney


University of Minnesota Duluth B.A. in Anthropology

I grew up in a small town filled with lakes and cornfields in central Minnesota. Growing up, my mom and I would explore as many historic downtowns, houses, and sites as we could. We also participated in local and state historic society events and celebrations. I found a love of history through experiences and high school and undergraduate classes. Anthropology with a concentration in archaeology and a minor in American Indian Studies is the path I chose to study at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Through taking an archaeology field school focusing on prehistoric Paleo-Indians, I realized I was more interested in historic time periods and structures. I decided Charleston was a great place to study historic preservation because of the early history and it is completely different from what I know. My interests are in vernacular architecture and cultural landscapes.

Haley Schriber


Alma College, Bachelor of Arts in History and Anthropology   

I cannot remember when I initially connected with history, but I have a feeling it came somewhere between reading my American Girl books and family vacations every summer. During the summer, my family would put aside a week to drive cross-country from our rural Michigan home to our predetermined destination. Prior to these vacations, history was far away, albeit interesting, but after visiting sites such as Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage Plantation, the Smithsonian, the site of Gettysburg, or the home of literaries in Concord, history took on a spirit of storytelling that continues to awe me to this day.
Upon entering Alma College I decided to double major in anthropology and history. Combining these two loves of culture through studying the past, present, and future, creates a fusion of complementary topics that encourage critical thinking, research, and community outreach. After setting my sights on museum curatorship, during my junior year historic preservation crept its way into my old-buildings-loving-heart and the thought of living in Charleston became my dream.  
Looking back, I can’t believe that I didn’t see this career path sooner. I grew up on our family farm from the mid nineteenth century and a mother with an architecture hobby. Whenever we were on the farm or driving through a neighborhood, she would slow us down to truly look at our built environment.  Now that I am here, I can’t wait to see what is in store for me in the field of historic preservation

Anna Simpkins


BA History, Whitworth University, Spokane WA

I grew up on the edge of Puget Sound and at the foot of Mount Rainier in Tacoma, Washington in a 1926 bungalow. Family vacations consisted of stopping at every possible National park and historic site in the West, but I never minded and especially liked seeing the insides of the historic buildings. After spending three summers working in a real estate office researching the history of listed properties just for fun, I knew I wanted to do something with buildings, but not real estate. While studying history as an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to intern with the City of Spokane Department of Building and Planning with the Historic Preservation Officer. During my time as an intern, I was exposed to how preservation fits within the larger scope of city planning and the economic drives behind some of the major projects in the city. I have the incredible opportunity to study Historic Preservation in Charleston, a built and physical environment so different (and much older!) than the Northwest. I hope to eventually take what I learn here back to the Pacific Northwest. I can’t wait for the challenge and opportunity that the next two years will bring!

Jean Stoll


Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and History, Baylor University

I grew up a military brat, so I have had the privilege to experience many different environments. The Middle East, eastern Asia and the U.S. have all shaped my cultural view of the world and given me ample opportunity to explore architecture. I realized historic preservation was the area I loved after I had already fallen in love with Baylor and accepted, so I did what I could to learn about the field during my undergraduate years. I volunteered with the Waco Historic Foundation, and participated in the vast field of preservation education. I also incorporated historic preservation into my choice of field schools, and decided to go to San Gemini, Italy for hands-on experience. I learned how to use chemical and laser methods of restoration, and found research fascinating. Now that I’m in Charleston, I am excited to dive into historic preservation and learn from the history around me.

Michelle M. Thompson


A.A.S. Residential and Commercial Interior Design, S.F.C.C.
Bachelor of Arts in Art History Eastern, WA University

I was born in the, then, relatively small farming town of Salinas California. The Salinas Valley is known not only as “the salad bowl of the world,” but as the birthplace of famed American author, John Steinbeck. In fact, my childhood home is located just blocks from the home in which Steinbeck himself was raised; the home is the setting of one of his most renowned works, East of Eden. As a kid I would sometimes spend afternoons after school at the Steinbeck House-which has served for many years as a historic home and restaurant-while my aunt volunteered during the lunch service. I was sometimes  allowed into some of the non-public spaces in the home which of course for a kid was thrilling! Specifically, I recollect the imposing brass bed frame, said to have been from the very bed in which the author had been born. This tangible connection to the past-the past of my own town, my own neighborhood, my own people- captivated me at an early age, though I am sure I hardly understood why. The idea that physical things from the past could hold power, tell stories, be prized for their history has always resonated with me. It was my two wonderful aunts-historic house fanatics- that I credit for not only exposing me to, but nurturing my appreciation of architecture, interiors, and the past.
I started my higher education with an aim towards interior design but was always more drawn to the study of period furniture and styles, than to the contemporary. I had planned to complete not only a BA in interior design but a graduate degree as well. I changed course, earning my BA instead in Art History, which I loved, but something kept nagging at me until it eventually dawned on me that I was meant to study historic preservation. Looking back on my life I see that preservation has always been my calling, and it now seems kind of silly to me that I didn’t see it sooner! My first preservation-related job was a summer internship at 19 working for the Washington State Capitol Museum which subsequently led to various preservation-related volunteer positions over the years, most recently having been a board member for the 1882 Carpenter Gothic Sterling Moorman House Foundation in rural Cheney WA. Having the opportunity to volunteer for this non-profit in its initial stages as a gutted house, desperately trying to raise community interest, was an eye-opening and valuable experience for me.
I am interested in the field of period style, consultation in both architecture, art and furnishings.

Rachel Walling


Bachelor of Science in Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology

Coming from a small town without much modern architecture, I have always had strong ties to history. The house in which I grew up was built in 1906. With cracking plaster walls, high ceilings, and nice woodwork the friends I brought home as a child were always amazed at how “cool” my house was. Older building, houses, structures have a certain charm that I have never found in new construction. But it wasn’t until I was about a year into my architecture studies at Georgia Tech that I put a name to what it was that I wanted to do with my life. I took a class called Historic Preservation, and that was that. I knew that new construction and the average career of an architect was not for me. I wanted to do something meaningful, something where I could make a difference, and protect something significant or special. Historic Preservation can go in many different directions and I am excited for the next couple of years so that I may forge my own path through the lands of preservation. And what a better place to do it than Charleston!

Meghan White


Bachelor of Arts in History, Bachelor of Arts in Art History, Elon University

I’ve always had an interest in old things, and double majored in two subjects that would allow me to study the past as much as I wanted. After a semester abroad at a university in Scotland my junior year, though, (in which the 1,000 year living history I was immersed in via the cathedral ruins on the cliff and cottages of the village residents certainly had a hand in influencing me) I realized that I didn’t feel that I was doing what I really wanted to do, and I was afraid that after graduating college I was not prepared to do what I loved. When I returned to the states I began researching graduate programs. Despite having been given a book on historic preservation from a family friend as early as ninth grade, and ignoring my “gut fish, not houses” bumper sticker I’ve had on my car for years, I stubbornly applied to more than half a dozen history programs and only a few programs in historic preservation. But the joy and relief I felt when I was accepted into this program made it obvious that exploring ways to preserve the built environment had been my path all along. I am thrilled to be studying historic preservation in Charleston, a city I grew up visiting from Georgia, and I am very excited to discover this year where I would like to focus my interests as I pursue my studies.

Meredith Wilson


Bachelor of Arts in English, History, and French from the University of Mississippi

I majored in English, History, and French at the University of Mississippi (Hotty Toddy!).  I took all the pre-med requirements.  Basically I had no idea what I was doing.
I stumbled upon the historic preservation program at the College of Charleston, largely by chance, but the more I looked into it, the more it seemed to fit.  I always enjoyed the more creative sides of history and literature, but I was also attracted to the tangible usefulness of a career in medicine.  Historic preservation seemed to unite the two.   For years I had witnessed the steady decline of the historic center of my hometown, Meridian, MS.  What was once a vibrant and successful town center in late 19th and early 20th centuries is now largely abandoned, a place known for its poverty and growing incidence of violent crime.  I realized that a career in historic preservation could allow me to be a part of the revitalization of communities like Meridian.  I hope that after my two years here in the MSHP program, I’ll be able to contribute to historic preservation in places like Meridian in a way that will better not only the built environment but also the people who live there.

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