UMass Amherst Building Archaeology Field School

    Improve listing Presented by

April 26, 2014 - 1:00 am Registration deadline for the field school
May 2, 2014 - 1:00 am Registration deadline for the workshop

This immersive, 3-week field school equips participants with the skills and tools to evaluate, date, document, and interpret historic buildings and the changes made to them over time.  Through an intensive series of lectures, workshops, field trips, and hands-on field work, participants will learn:


  • Theory and methods of building archaeology
  • Changing building technology from the 17th to the 19th centuries, and how to identify and date the various marks left by the changing tools and methods of construction
  • The use of nails as dating tools
  • Paint analysis as a tool for determining chronology as well as color history
  • Methods of field documentation of buildings and sites including photo-documentation, written descriptions, and methods and practice of preparing measured drawings in the field and studio.

All participants will take part in an actual building archaeology and documentation project at the 1752 Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum in  Hadley, Massachusetts, and will work in small teams to prepare drawings and a final documentation report.

Workshops and Guest Lectures

Tapping regional expertise, the field school features workshops with leading practitioners, including Claire Dempsey, Bill Flynt, Thomas Paske, and John Vaughan. Topics include photo-documentation, paint analysis, dendrochronology, and changing building technology from the 17th century to the late 19th century. Workshops are also available a la carte and may qualify for CEUs through WMAIA and other organizations. More information here: Workshops.


The UMass Field School in Building Archaeology is designed for:

  • Students, working professionals and aspiring practitioners in the fields of historic preservation, archaeology, architecture, and public history
  • Members of historical commissions and societies
  • Restoration craftspersons, planners and museum professionals
  • Alums and prospective/current students in the Historic Preservation M.S. Program

The Site

Fieldwork will be conducted at the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House and Museum in Hadley, Massachusetts. Built in 1752, enlarged in 1771 and 1799-1800, and operating as a museum since 1955, the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House is an unusually well‑preserved example of the home of a family of the rural gentry, known locally as the “River Gods” of the Connecticut River Valley.  The house and connected buildings portray the living and work spaces of 10 generations of an extended family and their employees.  Members of this household along with numerous artisans, servants and slaves made the property an important social and commercial link in local, regional and national cultural and economic networks.

The Faculty

The Field School in Building Archaeology is directed by Myron O. Stachiw, Visiting Lecturer in the Master of Science in Historic Preservation+Design Program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. For the past 35 years Stachiw has worked with museums, historical agencies, and universities as a social historian, archaeologist, architectural historian, and preservationist to research, interpret, and teach about material life in early America. Stachiw will be joined by guest faculty Claire Dempsey, Bill Flynt, Thomas Paske, and John Vaughan. Together, the Field School faculty have nearly 150 years of combined experience. To learn more, click here: Field School Faculty

The History

Founded in 1989 by Myron Stachiw, the Building Archaeology Field School has run in affiliation with such institutions as Old Sturbridge Village, Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, Roger Williams University, Newport Restoration Foundation, and the Samuel Huntington Trust. The Field School is New England’s preeminent Building Archaeology Field School, and many of the region’s leading practitioners are graduates of this program. The 2014 Field School is sponsored by the Architecture+Design Program, the Historic Preservation Program, and the Public History Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

University Credit and CEUs

Three university credits are available through UMass Amherst or by independent study arrangement with the participant’s home institution. In order to receive credit, additional assignments may be required as per arrangement with the instructor. Workshops are available a la carte and may qualify for CEUs through WMAIA and other professional organizations. More information about workshop CEUs here. If your professional organization is not listed, we will work with you to make arrangements, if possible. Contact Myron Stachiw for more information about course credit and CEUs.


Optional housing is available in the UMass Amherst North Residential Area, which is approximately 4 miles from the field site. Parking and bus transportation are available. The North Residential Area features air-conditioned apartments. Each suite contains four single rooms, two private baths and a shared living room.