ScheduleCurriculumTravelAccommodationsCostApplicationAbout Virginia CityAbout Montana Heritage Commission

UD Historic Preservation Field School Summer 2011

The University of Delaware offers a two-week, three-credit Historic Preservation field school in Virginia City.

Taught by faculty from the Center for Historic Architecture and Design, the field school offers students hands-on experience with architectural documentation and interpretation in a historic western mining town landscape. Students will learn a variety of preservation techniques including scaled, annotated field notes, measured drawings, architectural photography, and archival property research. The field school will also feature guest lectures by professionals associated with preservation efforts in Montana and day trips to other historic sites such as Butte, Bannack, and Helena.

The field school is designed to accommodate a maximum of 12 advanced undergraduates, practicing professionals, and graduate students in the fields of historic preservation, museum studies, public history, vernacular architecture, and material culture.

For students seeking course credit, the cost is $850, plus the cost of tuition. For persons who wish to attend, but do not seek course credit, the cost is $1700.


The field school will begin on Saturday, August 13th, and end on Saturday, August 27th.

The first week will be dedicated to learning techniques for architectural photography and scamed, annotated field notes for floor plans, elevations, sections and site plans. Day trips to Butte and Bannack State Park are also scheduled.

The focus of week two will be on archival research and interpretation, with students working in teams to document one of three sites in Virginaia City. One day will be spent in Helena, Montanta, at the Montana Historical Society Research Center. Students will complete their projects during the Fall 2011 semester. These projects are due by October 15th, 2011.

Throughout the field school a number of guest lecturers will speak on a wide array of preservation topics. [link to a more detailed schedule will be available soon]


The field school is composed of two separate classes, a photography class, and an architectural documentation class. As part of the class, the students will complete a final project, documenting and interpreting a historic building in Virginia City, due October 2011.

If registering for class credit, students will enroll in these classes in FALL 2011. Students are responsible for paying their own tuition based on the University of Delaware's tuition rates for FALL 2011.

Reading lists will be emailed to the students by July 1st.


By Air: Students are responsible for their own airfare to and from the Gallatin Airport, in Bozeman, Montana, and should plan to arrive at the airport on Saturday August 13th, between 1 and 3 pm. Vans will transport students to and from the airport to Virgina City. At the end of the field school, students will be transported back to the airport on August 27th. Anyone wishing to stay in the area longer will be responsible for their own transportation after the 27th.

By Car: Students travelling by car should plan to arrive in Virginia City by 4 pm on Saturday, August 13th.


Housing options in Virginia City are very limited. Students will live in double-occupancy, dorm-style rooms in the historic Bonanza Inn.

Most meals will be provided. We will be using a kitchen in the meeting hall to store groceries and prepare meals. Breakfast and lunch will be self-serve; teams of students will share responsibility for preparing the evening meal.

There are two separate cost structures for attending:

Program Fees include:

A deposit of 50 percent of the program fee is due upon acceptance into the field school. The remaining fifty percent is due no later than July 1, 2011.

Students are responsible for their own airfare to and from the Gallatin Airport in Bozeman, Montana.

Attendees are also responsible for providing proof of insurance that covers the two weeks in Montana, OR will be required to purchase health insurance for that time.

Application Process:

Class size is strictly limited to 12 students. We are currently accepting applications and will make admission decision on a rolling basis. Applications will be accepted until June 15th, 2011, or until all slots are filled.

To apply, download and fill out the application. There is no application fee. Email the completed application to Catherine Morrissey (
Download Application Here

For more information, contact:

Catherine Morrissey, Researcher, Center for Historic Architecture and Design



About Virginia City:
The rise of Virginia City is an excellent example of towns in the Old West. In May of 1863, Virginia City experienced a gold rush and by the following year it had the largest population in the Idaho territory; however, like all mining ventures, the gold eventually ran out and the population of 10,000 people were reduced to less than 1000 by the 20th century. Although the population declined drastically, these fortune seekers left behind many architectural and building forms. Due to the preservation efforts by Charles Bovey and his wife, and then later by the Montana Heritage Commission, Virginia City has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The town has become a wonderful open-air museum in which to study historic preservation practices and principles.

small frame building

Day Trips:

Butte Montana is another example of a mining town the students will get to visit. Butte's landscape is still dotted with the remains of the town's mining past. Butte offers another perspective on the history of mining towns, unlike that of Virginia City, it did not succumb to the ghost-town fate. In Butte students will see a larger array of buildings, as well as hear about the city's attempts at preserving an urban landscape in Montana.

tin shop and brothel

The students will visit Montana's capital city to conduct archival research. Helena was founded in the 1860s after the discovery of gold. Helena became first the territorial capital, a title taken from Virginia City, and later the capital of the state of Montana. Students will visit Montana's Historical Society to conduct archival research, as well as tour the town, and the "Last Chance Gulch."

An aspect of the students' architectural photography lessons will take place at Bannack State Park. Bannack was the first territorial capital of Montana, but it was soon eclipsed by the gold rush, and population swell in Virginia City. Bannack persisted to a vary degree of success as a mining town until the 1950s, at which point it was declared a state park of Montana. Bannack continues to function as an open-air ghost town administered by the Parks department.

About the Montana Heritage Commission
The field school is run with a partnership between University of Delaware, and the Montana Heritage Commission (MHC). With the purchase of historic properties in Virginia City, and the neighboring Nevada, MHC was created to oversee the management and preservation of the historic structures. Currently the Commission owns about half of the historic structures in Virginia City.

Historic Preservation Master's of Arts Program and Graduate Certificate
Center for Historic Architecture and Design
University of Delaware
307 Alison Hall, University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716, 302/831-8097

Field School Director
Rebecca J. Sheppard, Associate Director Center for Historic Architecture and Design Email:

Field School Faculty
David L. Ames, Director Center for Historic Architecture and Design

For more information:
Catherine Morrissey, Researcher at the Center for Historic Architecture and Design