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HISP 101: The American Heritage

Course Outline

Historic Preservation 101, the American Heritage, introduces the principles of historic preservation through the study of sites, structures, buildings, objects and districts, using the analytical tools of history, architectural history, social history, and archaeology. Through reading and discussion, lectures, and slide presentations, the course will help the student understand the history, development and context of the American heritage that historic preservation seeks to identify, interpret, and protect.

Course Objectives

• Foster a basic understanding and awareness of American historic preservation and the philosophy, purposes, content, and methods of the discipline.
• Acquire a basic working familiarity with material culture and the built environment.
• Build and master architectural vocabulary.
• Establish a basis for future studies in historic preservation.
• Actively pursue independent educational experiences inside and outside the classroom.

This course partly satisfies the University’s General Education requirements under the goal of “Human Experience and Society.” Consequently, the course has the following Student Learning Outcomes:
• Explain human and social experiences and activities from multiple perspectives.
• Draws appropriate conclusions based on evidence.
• Transfers knowledge and skills learned to a novel situation.


McAlester, V. (2013) A Field Guide to American Houses. New York: Knopf.

All other materials will be made available online.

Architectural Image Library

Students are encouraged to use the image library to hone their skills in identifying architectural features. If you have pictures you would like added to the library, please contact Dr. Smith.

You are also welcome to use this list of architectural terms to help you study. It will be updated throughout the semester.

Disability Information, Grading Scale & Instructor Policies

Course Requirements

Graded Course Requirements Due Date Weight
Class Participation All Semester 10%
Quiz 1 15%
Quiz 2 15%
Assignment 1: Building Features 10%
Quiz 3 15%
Assignment 2: Building Description 15%
Final Examination 20%

You may submit your written assignments by uploading them here.

Course Schedule

5/19 M Introduction & The Meaning of the Built Environment
Readings: Stilgoe “Outside Lies Magic”, Chapter 1
5/20 T Building Elements I
Readings: McAlester pp. 34-56
5/21 W Building Elements II
Readings: McAlester pp. 34-56
5/22 R Building Elements III: Classical Orders
Readings: The Classical Orders
5/26 M No Class: Memorial Day
5/27 T Quiz 1 & Neighborhood Walk
5/28 W Native American Architecture
Readings: McAlester pp. 107-118
5/29 R Colonial
Readings: McAlester pp. 157-200
9/30 F Georgian
Readings: McAlester pp. 201-216
6/2 M Quiz 2 & Federal
Readings: McAlester pp. 217-244
6/3 T Greek Revival & Gothic Revival
Readings: McAlester pp. 247-282
6/4 W Building Description & The Eclectic
Readings: How to Write an Architectural Description and Complete the National Register Form, “Narrative Description” Section & McAlester pp. 311-314
6/5 R Victorian Era Styles
Readings: McAlester pp. 283-304, 317-332, 387-396 (assignment 1 due)
6/9 M Quiz 3 & The Columbian Exhibition/Beaux Arts
Readings: McAlester pp. 469-484
6/10 T Queen Anne, Stick, Shingle
Readings: McAlester pp. 333-386
6/11 W Craftsman, the Bungalow, Prairie
Readings: McAlester pp. 449-468, 511-580
6/12 R Fredericksburg Walk (assignment 2 due)
6/16 M Tall Buildings & Modernism
Readings: Lowe, G. Architecture: the First Chicago School, Dol, A. The Architecture and Development of New York City, McAlester pp. 581-586
6/17 T Architecture Since WWII
Readings: McAlester pp. 587-616
6/18 W No Class: Reading Period