Historic Preservation Students attend the National Trust Conference

Students take an architectural boat tour of Chicago during this year’s National Trust Conference.

Students in Historic Preservation had the opportunity to visit Chicago and attend the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual conference from November 14-17.  Fifteen students participated in this year’s conference along with Professor James Reap and Director of Development Jennifer Messer.  This year’s Past Forward conference focused on themes of reurbanism, technology, health, and connections.  In addition to attending the conference, many students also took the opportunity to explore the city and its architecture including buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and the firm Adler and Sullivan.  A highlight of the trip was the opportunity to network with other preservation professionals and meet with alumni of the UGA MHP program at an alumni happy hour held at a local pizza restaurant on November 16.

For student Caitlin Plesher, her favorite session was one entitled “Your Brain on Preservation”. It featured Nikos Salingaros and was all about the mental and physical health benefits that historic properties can have on the body. Caitlin said that “it was a perspective I had never heard about before, much less considered, and was fascinating! Salingaros detailed the new type of research they were conducting to monitor peoples’ responses to historic buildings versus more modern buildings, and how specific types of geometry and ornamentation in a place can positively affect your health. I definitely added some of his reading recommendations to my Christmas list this year!”

Student Rebekah Helfgot also enjoyed learning about the intersection of preservation and health.  She “thoroughly enjoyed learning about the new advances that have been made that prove the health benefits of saving old places.” She also enjoyed exploring the city’s architecture, especially the Robie House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  For her “it was amazing to be able to experience a space that we had learned so much about in class.”

For Bethany Moore, exploring the city’s architecture was also a highlight of the trip.  For her, seeing the Burnham and Root designed Reliance Building in person was very exciting.  She was so excited to see in person such a beautiful and important building that she had only seen on slides.  She also had the opportunity to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in person and then attend a session on its restoration at the conference.  She  “was fascinated by all the work that went into restoring the church and how detailed they were in their work especially because we had been to it two days before and had no idea it had been in such bad condition. It looked brand new when we saw it so the restoration was a success. I like to see all the behind the scenes details of restorations and the complications and problem solving until you get the finished product of a historic building taken back to its former glory.”


For Lisa Demarais, she enjoyed the networking aspects of the conference.  She “enjoyed the opportunity to connect with preservation professionals from other areas of the United States at the opening reception at the Field Museum and an event for preservationists of the Pacific Northwest. I was able to speak with preservationists such as Sherri Freemuth and Horace Foxhall, Jr. from the National Trust, and Jennifer Mortensen of the Washington Trust.”

Visiting the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Robie House was a highlight of the trip

The alumni Happy Hour/Pizza Party gave students and alumni the opportunity to mingle.

Students pose with Sue the dinosaur at the opening reception held at Chicago’s Field Museum.

Students who attended the conference were Jackson Beck, Carter Burns, Lisa Demarais, Mills Dorn, Sean Griffith, Rebekah Helfgot, Pearl Howell, Maura Jackson, Chase Klugh, Bethany Moore, Caitlin Plesher, Maria Rachal, Catie Sauer, Daniel White, and Anders Yount.