ACL Project List

In the summers of 2012 and 2013, Western Clay played host to two intensive, four-week Heritage Conservation Praxis field courses. HSPV 750, as it was known, utilized the entire site—but particularly downdraft Kiln No. 7—as a means of enhancing Penn's historic preservation core curriculum and first-year conservation and site management courses. Organized around lectures, demonstrations, and fieldwork, HSPV 750 built off of 2011's documentation efforts and began to address material degredation and repair. Working hands-on with wooden, ceramic, and metal building materials, students were able to experience firsthand the design and execution of conservation solutions for historic sites and structures.

  Images from the inaugural HSPV 750 summer praxis course, held at Western Clay by the University of Pennsylvania's graduate program in historic preservation. ACL files (2012)

Error: Embedded data could not be displayed. Scenes from the summer 2012 praxis course.

Under Professors Kelly Dixon and Jeff MacDonald of the University of Montana, students learned the basics of archaeological survey, including excavation methods, artifact inventory, and artifact typology. Third-generation brick mason Robert Valach of Lewistown, MT, gave a full-day seminar on bricklaying fundamentals, and preservation professionals Ron Anthony and John Fidler delivered multi-day workshops on the assessment and conservation of wood and architectural ceramics, respectively. Working with Missoula-based preservation architect Jim McDonald, eight Penn preservation students and Cooper Union architecture student Christopher Taleff formulated preliminary design strategies for the stabilization and reuse of Kiln No. 7.


The conservation of one section of Kiln No. 7 was used as a demonstration, or pilot project, to refine technical requirements and recommendations for a larger-scale program of temporary stabilization, reuse, and interpretation of the Western Clay kiln complex.


Before and after photos of pilot stabilization areas. "Before" images by Joe Elliott (2011), "After" images courtesy of the ACL (2012).

In July and August of 2013, HSPV 750 returned to Helena with an expanded program and ambitious treatment goals. A group of fifteen students representing four continents joined an equally diverse faculty to implement conservation techniques tested in 2012's pilot project across the entirety of Kiln No. 7's exterior.


Penn architect and planner Lindsay Falck held a full-day workshop on bricklaying, and conservator John Fidler returned for a second year of lecture and demonstration on the assessment and treatment of historic brick. Then, as part of a new teaching unit on metals, students joined conservators Paul Mardikian and Claudia Chemello in analyzing and implementing initial treatments on the kiln's corroded iron banding. See photos below, as well as the 2013 field report located under "Reports" in the project library.

  The focus of HSPV 750, the second summer course held by Penn's graduate program in historic preservation at Western Clay, was Kiln No. 7, depicted above on a platter by past Bray resident Karl McDade. Photo: B. Sturm (2013)

Error: Embedded data could not be displayed. Scenes from the summer 2013 praxis course.