Summer Field School in the Methods of Architectural History

Architectural History Field School

During the Summer 2016, The National Institute of American History and Democracy offered History 413-01/590-01: Architectural Field School . The instructor for this course is the renowned architectural historian Dr. Carl Lounsbury of the Department of Architectural Research at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. 

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The Colonial Williamsburg Architectural Research Department in conjunction with the College of William and Mary’s National Institute of American History and Democracy offers a five-week course this summer that is open to all undergraduate and graduate students as well as those with a special interest in early American architecture. This field school introduces students to the methods used in the investigation and recording of historic buildings.  The program is intended to help students distinguish the form, fabrication, and assembly of materials and building elements and understand their chronology. They will learn how to apply field evidence to answer larger questions concerning architectural and social history.

Following several introductory lectures on building technology and architectural features, students will study structures in the Historic Area of Williamsburg and visit buildings in the surrounding Tidewater region. Study will also include investigating and recording buildings on location away from Williamsburg. This summer the fourth week of the field school will be spent documenting Highland or Ashlawn, James Monroe's home near Monticello in Albermarle County. This will involve measured drawings and cataloguing the building fabric. Students will be in residence in the region  during that week. In the last week, students will convert their fieldwork into measured drawings using a CAD program and write reports on their sites.

For most of the session, the class meets four days a week, Monday through Thursday, from 10:00 to 4:30 at Bruton Heights School which is part of the Colonial Williamsburg research campus. Students must be enrolled for the course through the College of William and Mary. For more information about the nature of the course, please email Carl Lounsbury at or call (757) 220-7654.  For an example of a previous summer research report generated by field-school students, click here.



Prospective students should register for History 490-01 (undergraduate level) or 590-01 (graduate level) as they would for any other Summer School course following the Registrar's instructions, available here.

 For assistance, contact the Registrar's Office, College of William & Mary (757-221-2800 or or the staff of the National Institute of American History & Democracy (757-221-7652 or


TUITION:  The field school carries 3 hours of academic credit.                                                                                                      

Students pay applicable in-state or out-of-state William & Mary tuition. Current rates are posted here.

 DORM: Students are not required to live on campus, but space should be available in an air-conditioned dorm. 

 You may contact Residence Life for housing at 757-221-4314.

MEALS: Students have the option of providing their own meals or taking individual meals on campus.

A formal meal plan is not required. There are also many restaurants within walking distance of the William & Mary campus.