The Johns Hopkins Gazette: July 7, 2003
July 7, 2003
VOL. 32, NO. 39


Homewood Receives Grant for Historic American Building Survey

By Amy Cowles

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

The Richard C. von Hess Foundation has awarded a $61,000 grant to support a Historic American Building Survey at Homewood House, a national historic landmark located on Johns Hopkins' Homewood campus.

HABS, a National Park Service program, will document the present condition of the house, which was built between 1801 and 1804 and is considered to be among the finest examples of Federal-period architecture in America. Starting in October, a HABS team will be at Homewood to produce measured drawings and take archival-quality photographs of the house, which will then be used to assist the university's continuing efforts to preserve the site. HABS documentation would also allow Homewood to rebuild according to original specifications in case of future damage to the building.

Visitors to Homewood will gain insights into the preservation process through a temporary exhibition examining the origins of HABS and its early work in Maryland.

The project coincides with two new courses to be held in fall 2003 at Homewood House: Architecture in the United States, 1860-1930, offered by the History of Art Department and taught by visiting lecturer W. Barksdale Maynard; and Historic Preservation: Learning from Homewood, a noncredit Odyssey program open to the public. Each course will incorporate the HABS team's work into its curriculum, offering students an inside look into historic preservation.

"We are tremendously grateful for the von Hess Foundation gift," said Robert Saarnio, director of the university's historic houses. "HABS is one of the most revered and time-honored programs in the field of architectural preservation. Having the HABS team here is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to introduce the campus to the gold standard of preservation practice. Once the documents are complete, they will also help the university better manage the site."

Saarnio said that the Homewood HABS project will have a far-reaching effect beyond Baltimore. "When the Homewood documentation is complete, HABS will digitize the images and place them on the Web. This will allow scholars of early American architecture to examine Homewood's design from anywhere in the world and download the images for instruction and study."

The gift to Homewood House reflects Richard Craig von Hess' lifelong interests in architecture and education, areas he sought to support through the creation of the foundation just before his death in 1997. The Historic Houses of Johns Hopkins University have greatly benefited from the foundation's generosity twice in the past, with grants in 2000 and 2001 supporting conservation projects at Evergreen House, the university's other historic house museum.

Homewood House is open for tours Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. JHU students, faculty and staff are admitted free. Admission for the public is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $3 for students. For information on exhibitions and programs at the museum, call 410-516-5589 or go to