Preservation Trades Network History
PTN faces
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PTN History
At the 1995 annual conference of Association for Preservation Technology in Washington, DC, a small group of contractors, educators, and preservation specialists convened an ad-hoc roundtable discussion on the preservation trades. As a result of this informal meeting, the Preservation Trades Network was established, initially as a Task Force of APT, to address the perception that the role of trades people and contractors was not adequately recognized or acknowledged in the preservation industry. A working group of trades practitioners and contractors held meetings throughout 1996 to determine the focus of the PTN effort and concluded that there was an opportunity to bring practitioners of a wide diversity of trades together in a single venue to share their skills in an environment that fostered "hands on" demonstrations of a type not generally available in academic conference settings.

The first “gathering of the trades” in 1997 not only proved that it could be done, it demonstrated that sharing, learning and talking with tools in hand filled a void in the mainstream preservation movement that some doubted even existed. Since then PTN has continued to evolve to better serve and represent the trades community. In 2001, PTN became an independent 501(c)6 nonprofit organization. In 2005 PTN made the transition to a 501c(3) nonprofit to better fit the educational purpose of the organization. PTN has a track record of producing an annual conference based on networking and education, working with other organizations and nonprofits to expand educational opportunities, and providing a network for individuals involved in the trades. A significant part of this networking has been the emergence of reciprocal relationships with trades practitioners and organizations on an international level. Demonstrators and presenters from nineteen countries have been represented at IPTW events, and there is now an established basis for collaboration and exchange with programs in other countries. PTN is firmly committed to working to sustain the success of existing domestic trades education programs, recognizing the contributions of the masters of the trades, and creating opportunities for future generations of trades people.


IPTW 1997, Frederick, Maryland
IPTW 1997The Historic Preservation Training Center of the National Park Service sponsored the first International Preservation Trades Workshop (IPTW) in 1997 in Frederick, MD in partnership with PTN. As the first event of this kind, attendance exceeded all expectations, and had to be limited to 375 people. IPTW 1997 demonstrated conclusively that there was both an audience and a demand for an event based around hands-on demonstrations of the skills of all of the trades engaged in preservation. It also established the basis for a system of networking and information sharing among people in all of the trades. Although trades specific groups such as the Timber Framers Guild, International Log Builders Association, and Stone Foundation had already established strong systems of communication and collaboration, it was the first domestic event “by the trades and for the trades” to bring practitioners of a wide diversity of trades together in a single venue.

IPTW 1998 and 1999, Gaithersburg, Maryland
IPTW 1999By sponsoring IPTW 1997, the NPS Historic Preservation Training Center played an invaluable role in laying the ground work for development of PTN, and establishing the value of an annual “gathering of the trades”. However, this represented a level of funding and support that could not be repeated during a period of major downsizing of federal programs. Without major institutional support, the trades community in the form of voluntary organizers, staff, demonstrators, and presenters worked together to donate time, materials and effort to these events in a way that sustained the development of the organization, and made both IPTW 1998 and IPTW 1999 possible. The Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg, Maryland was the site of both events, which were each attended by approximately 275 people. At IPTW 1998, PTN inaugurated the Askins Achievement Award to honor “significant contributions to the traditional trades”. The award is named in honor of James S. (Jim) Askins, founder of the National Park Service Williamsport Preservation Training Center. The initial presentation was made to Jim Askins in recognition of his lasting influence on the education of NPS Preservation Specialists, and many contributions to the traditional trades. In 1999, John Fugelso of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission became the 2nd recipient of the Askins Award in recognition of his career as an educator and preservation specialist. IPTW 1998 marked inception of a PTN Education Committee, and the beginning of a PTN scholarship program for students and apprentices.
IPTW 2000, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - "Convergence of Architecture and Craft"
IPTW 2000In November 2000, the IPTW was held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in partnership with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The Harrisburg event was attended by more than 500 people. The workshop theme – Convergence of Architecture and Craft – also became the focus of a special issue of the APT Bulletin, Vol. XXXIII, No. 1, containing articles by many of the presenters at IPTW. The purpose of the workshop and APT Bulletin was to open a dialog on creating a climate of inclusion among all members of the preservation team, including the trades. PTN began holding specialized workshops in conjunction with IPTW 2000. In partnership with the Timber Framers Guild, PTN held two workshops to reconstruct a traditional timber-frame Hay Barrack for the Landis Valley Museum in Lancaster, PA. The 3rd annual Askins Achievement Award was presented to Rudy R. Christian, founding member of the Timber Framers Guild, the Traditional Timber Frame Research and Advisory Group of the Guild, and noted lecturer and teacher of traditional timber framing techniques.

IPTW 2001, Brooklyn, New York - "Partnerships"
IPTW 2001In partnership with the National Park Service, Gateway National Recreation Area, IPTW 2001 was held in October at historic Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, NY, with the theme “Partnerships”. The National Park Service requested help from PTN to develop facilities at the Ecology Village camping site in the Brooklyn unit of the park, where urban youth experience environmental studies in a natural environment. PTN and Timber Framers Guild members designed a small timber frame structure to be built with the active participation of students from the Brooklyn High School for the Arts. PTN also arranged for the donation of a large decorative wooden gate, constructed by the Timber Framers Guild during the 2000 Smithsonian Festival of the Building Arts in Washington, DC. PTN coordinated donation of materials for the Ecology camp shelter, and transportation of the Masters of the Building Arts Festival gate to the Floyd Bennett Field site. In the immediate aftermath of the events of 9/11, the timing and location meant that many members of the local trades community were involved in recovery and support efforts at the WTC site. Consideration was given to canceling or postponing the event. However, there was a strong consensus among event organizers that the commitment PTN had made to the National Park Service for work at the Ecology Camp site had to be honored. Although attendance at IPTW 2001 was fewer than 200 people, it clearly demonstrated the potential of the spirit of the network to prevail, and to gather despite adversity. At IPTW 2001, PTN members initiated an annual auction to raise funds for the organization which has become a lively and successful highpoint of every subsequent IPTW. Lisa Sasser, 1986 graduate of the National Park Service Williamsport Preservation Training Center, and a founding member of PTN was the recipient of the 4th annual Askins Achievement Award. The Preservation Trades Network was represented at the 2001 National Preservation Conference in Providence, Rhode Island by a panel of PTN members in a session on Building Craftsmanship – Sources, Resources and Initiatives. After five years as a Task Force of the Association for Preservation Technology International (APTI), PTN was formally established as a 501(c)6 non-profit corporation in 2001.
IPTW 2002, Fairmont, West Virginia - "Community"
IPTW 2002IPTW 2002 was held in Fairmont, West Virginia on the 1,266 foot span of the historic Jefferson Street High Level Bridge above the Monongahela River. Located in the heart of a historic community founded in 1820, the newly restored bridge was closed to traffic for three days in August to serve as the venue for the workshop. IPTW 2002 was co-hosted by the Vandalia Heritage Foundation, established to promote historic preservation and redevelopment in northern West Virginia communities through partnerships with the Vandalia Redevelopment Corporation, and local nonprofit organizations. In addition to rehabilitation of commercial and civic structures Vandalia's Community and Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative continues to provide information and incentives for homeowners to preserve historic homes and neighborhoods. Congressman Alan B. Mollohan, welcomed IPTW 2002 to Fairmont, where the theme of “Community” was demonstrated through the work of local and international trades people, preservation professionals, and partners. PTN used the abandoned and neglected Alexander House as a venue for “hands on” workshops for trades people and homeowners. Using the building as a classroom, PTN helped reinforce the message of revitalization by changing community perceptions of historic structures from “eyesores” to assets. The relationship established between PTN and the Vandalia Heritage Foundation has been the catalyst for ongoing trades based preservation efforts including establishment of an annual West Virginia Preservation Trades Workshop held each spring, and creation of the Trades Preservation Council of West Virginia, Inc. In June 2002, the Preservation Trades Network began producing a quarterly newsletter called PTNews.
IPTW 2003, Columbia, Maryland - "Futures"
IPTW 2003IPTW 2003 held October 8-11th, in Columbia, Maryland with the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks as co-hosts. The workshop utilized much of the historic farm complex for classrooms, and demonstration areas. The event began with a keynote speech by Clem Labine, founder and editor of Traditional Building and Period Homes magazines and the founder of the Old House Journal. Mr. Labine talked about historic preservation and his view of the past, present, and most importantly the future of preservation and how the traditional trades can help shape that future. The 300-acre Blandair Farm site, a rural enclave in the heart of the urban Baltimore-Washington corridor, featured a number of extant 19th century structures in need of stabilization and preservation. Many of the demonstration sessions at IPTW featured actual repair and conservation of the buildings including the timber frame Seed Barn, and plaster repair in the Main House. Approximately 350 people participated in the event. In April, 2004 the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, in partnership with PTN, hosted a 3-day timber frame repair workshop to continue frame repairs on the Blandair Seed Barn. Bill Gichner received the 6th annual Askins Achievement Award in recognition of his lifelong contributions to the art and craft of blacksmithing and metal work. In October of 2003, members of PTN, the Timber Framers Guild and the International Log Builders Association attended a 12 day working meeting hosted by the Association of Polish Conservators in the Bialystok, Podlaskie region of Poland, with representatives from Poland, Israel, Romania, Belarus, Germany, Canada, Lithuania, Israel and the Czech Republic. The meeting was focused on the potential for development of educational programs in the traditional trades.

IPTW 2004, Mobile, Alabama - "Education"
IPTW 2004IPTW 2004, was held in Mobile, Alabama with the theme of “Education”. The state’s oldest city was founded by the French in 1702 and has buildings dating to the 1820s. The workshop took place in Spanish Plaza, which was built in the 1960s to recognize the Spanish contribution to Colonial Mobile and to honor Malaga, Spain, Mobile’s sister city. Co-sponsors included the Alabama Historical Commission, Alabama Preservation Alliance, Black Heritage Council, Historic Mobile Preservation Society, and Mobile Historic Development Commission. Three pre-conference workshops were held in conjunction with IPTW 2004. Participants in “Issues in Masonry Conservation”, a daylong workshop at Fort Morgan, Alabama’s 1834 brick fort at the mouth of Mobile Bay focused on developing appropriate methodologies for masonry repair in an interdisciplinary team setting. A half day Technology Trade Teacher’s Workshop covered preservation-sensitive techniques. Another workshop covered hands on repair techniques in the c. 1830 Bishop Portier House owned by the Catholic Archdiocese. The Friends of Magnolia Cemetery sponsored a Monument Restoration workshop by the Mississippi Stone Guild. In addition to the existing PTN Scholarship program, a number of scholarships allowing students, teachers, and trades apprentices to attend IPTW 2004 were awarded by the Mobile Historic Development Commission and the Historic Mobile Preservation Society through a grant from the Sybil H. Smith Charitable Trust. Workshops and discussion sessions focused on traditional trades education set the stage for the International Trades Education Symposium (ITES) to be held in conjunction with IPTW 2005. John William Laing of Edinburgh’s Telford College in Edinburgh, Scotland was presented the 7th annual Askins Achievement Award for his accomplishments as a master plasterer, and educator in the trowel trades. The Preservation Trades Network and the World Monuments Fund jointly presented, Preservation Trades Training: A New Perspective, a panel session and Trades Retreat at the 2004 Annual Conference of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in Louisville, Kentucky.
IPTW 2005, St. Clairsville, Ohio - "Building Bridges to International Collaboration"
IPTW 2005Belmont Technical College and Ohio University Eastern hosted the 9th annual International Preservation Trades Workshop, in St. Clairsville, Ohio. Demonstrators and participants from North America, England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, Poland, Sweden and Japan made this a truly international gathering, building both tangible and intangible bridges to international communication and exchange. Roy Underhill, host of the popular PBS series “The Woodwright’s Shop”, opened IPTW 2005 as keynote speaker and later joined in the demonstration sessions with his box of hand tools and foot-powered lathe. More than forty demonstrators presented sessions ranging from timber frame joinery, stone carving, window repair and brick masonry to the art of scagliola or “plaster marble”. The traditional lime burn was an especially popular spot for warming up between sessions. In addition to demonstrating the trades, workshop participants built permanent structures for the host institutions. The Dry Stone Conservancy of Lexington, Kentucky organized an international group of drystone masons from Ireland, Scotland and the US to build an arched stone bridge on the campus of Ohio University Eastern with stone donated by Rolling Rock Stone of Boyertown, Pennsylvania. PTN, Timber Framers Guild and Slate Roofing Contractors Association members worked together to build a permanent timber framed, slate roofed structure as a traditional blacksmith’s shed with assistance from student apprentices from the American College of the Building Arts. Material for the shed was donated by the Christman Company. The building will be used by students in the Building Preservation and Restoration Program metal arts and blacksmithing program. Virginia Lime Works of Madison Heights, Virginia constructed a cut and rubbed brick column demonstrating traditional methods of building with gauged brick. The Stone Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving and perpetuating the time-honored art and craft of stonework held their annual Stonework Symposium in conjunction with IPTW 2005. Participants in both events moved freely from scholarly presentations on the history of stonework to “hands on” demonstrations such as the session on pre-Columbian Peruvian stonework techniques by Professor Jean-Pierre Protzen, former Chair of the School of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. The 5th annual PTN Auction on Friday night was the most successful ever. When Auctioneer Dave Acker brought down the gavel on the last bid, more than $17,200 had been raised to help support PTN. The Saturday night Barbeque and performance of the PTN All Star Band was judged by many to be the best yet. Mike Orrell, Duffy Hoffman and the other regulars were joined by Andy deGruchy for the premiere of Andy’s latest composition, “The Cover of the PTNews”. Roy Underhill sat in on harmonica and French Compagnon, Daniel Wawszczyk, demonstrated that music knows no language barriers when he picked up the bass guitar.
IPTW 2006, New Orleans, Louisiana - "Rebuilding Hope – Reclaiming Heritage"
IPTW 2006The 10th annual International Preservation Trades Workshop was as different from other IPTW’s as New Orleans is unique among American cities. From the smell of Cajun cooking in the air, to the sight of ships passing along the levee above the main event location, it was clear that this was no ordinary venue when IPTW 2006 came to the Holy Cross Neighborhood of New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward, October 26-28th, with the theme "Rebuilding Hope and Reclaiming Heritage". Since Hurricane Katrina devastated the historic neighborhoods of New Orleans, PTN has been working with the World Monuments Fund, and our local partner the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association to help local residents rebuild and return home through initiatives like the Mobile Preservation Unit, and repair demonstration project at the Greater Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church. IPTW 2006 took this to a new level, by waiving the usual workshop registration fee and inviting all to join us in an open workshop setting designed to promote learning and sharing the knowledge of the trades for all who care about restoring these communities. In response, more than one hundred members of the PTN community from 26 states, and as far as Scotland, Canada and Sweden, came to New Orleans to work and learn side by side with local residents on four demonstration repair projects in Holy Cross. The 2006 recipient of the Askins Achievement award was Earl Barthé, a 5th generation plasterer whose great-great-grandfather, a master plasterer from Nice, France, settled in New Orleans in the mid-1800s and established a family business that is still in operation today. <read more>
IPTW-ITES 2007, Tällberg, Sweden
IPTW 2007, Tallberg, SwedenDemonstrators and educators from Europe and North America gathered in the beautiful Lake Siljan Region for the first PTN event to be held outside North America. Workshop sessions explored the them "Leadership for the Trades: A Global Priority Issue" in the 2nd International Trades Education Symposium and concurrent International Preservation Trades Workshop. The sysposium was sponsored by the Preservation Trades Network (PTN), Dalarna Region Cooperation Council, GMV Centre for Environment and Sustainability Chalmers University of Technology and Göteborg University, and the Swedish Construction Federation. The conference was designed to further define the role of the trades within an international context as an aspect of sustainability, leadership and collaboration. The main conference theme "Leadership" was selected to suggest that the traditional crafts themselves must take an active role in demonstrating that capability, and developing dialogue with the academic sector, industry stakeholders, the business community, NGOs and governmental agencies to improve educational and employment opportunities, and improve public perceptions of the value and significance of the traditional and skilled trades. In addition to three days of formal presentations by conference participants, local tradespeople staged demonstrations of log building and restoration, traditional Swedish fence building, clay parging, blacksmithing and roofing. Additional acitivities included excursions to the Falun World Heritage Site, a tour of restoration work in progress at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, and the Vasa Museum. <read more>
IPTW 2007, Frederick, Maryland - "Coming Home"
IPTW 2007The National Park Service Historic Preservation Training Center shop facility at the historic Jenkins Cannery was the main venue for the 10th Anniversary IPTW and a more diverse group of demonstrations, presentations and workshop sessions than any previous IPTW. Among the almost 80 demonstrators and presenters were veterans of past IPTWs and many new, first-time presenters offering interactive "hands on" demonstrations of timber framing, carpentry, plastering, brick and stone masonry, painting and decorative finishes, roofing and metal work, and many other trades and allied disciplines. Other sessions covered education and much more of interest to the preservation community. The annual Live Auction was one of the most successful in PTN history, and the joint PTN/APT-DC reception at Cafe 611 will be long remembered for great live music and a special performance of the "Limeworks Blues" by Andy DeGruchy and the Limeworks Dancers. A special PTN Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to J. Bryan Blundell, founding member and former PTN Managing Director by Clem Labine, founder of the Old House Journal and Traditional Building. Dr. Gerard C.J. Lynch, internationally acclaimed historic brickwork consultant and master bricklayer, was presented with the 2007 Askins Achievement Award by James S. (Jim) Askins, and nominator John William Laing of Edinburgh's Telford College. One of the highlights of IPTW 2007 was the creation of a carved brick medallion by Dr. Lynch representing the landmark church spires of Frederick, Maryland as depicted on the town seal. The Frederick Medallion was presented as a gift to the Frederick Tourism Bureau and will find a permanent home in the new Frederick Visitor Center currently undergoing rehabilitation. <read more>
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