Published October 1, 2019
"The ability to come up with practical ways to engage the general public in terms they can understand is a valuable and essential asset to any preservation organization. During my time at UB, I learned practical solutions and ways to address this."
Public participation is a key aspect of Katharine Hewlings' professional work. Only a year after graduating with her Master of Science in Architecture with concentrations in historic preservation and urban design, Hewlings is working as the Historic Buildings and Structures Survey Coordinator with History Nebraska. Through this position, she works extensively with ArcGIS to chronicle and map historic properties throughout the state of Nebraska.
Prior to her work at History Nebraska, Hewlings worked as an architectural historian for Panamerican Consultants, Inc., where she contributed to wind farm surveys in Western New York and National Park Service projects across the Southeast.
Hewlings’ passion for historic preservation underlies her masters thesis on the underrepresentation of buildings designed by women on the National Register of Historic Places. She argues that understanding the suppressed stories of women architects compromises informed decision making on historic structures. During her time at UB she was also a key member of a research team working to uncover the location of the fabled Battle of Scajaquada Creek during the War of 1812 in Buffalo. This research could help designate the area as a national battlefield site.
Prior to her studies at UB, Hewlings earned a graduate certificate in archeology and a masters of arts in museum studies from the University of Leicester in England.
Here Hewlings reflects on the impact of her UB education and her career pathway.
My inspiration to pursue a degree in historic preservation stems from my prior education in archaeology and museum studies. These disciplines overlap and are often intertwined with the field of preservation. The degree introduced me to new ways of looking at buildings and allowed me to expand on what I saw as “historic.”
The skills I use on a daily basis in the historic preservation field include making National Register eligibility determinations, conducting buildings research, writing architectural descriptions and historic contexts, being able to communicate historic preservation to the general public, and knowledge of Geographic Information Systems to record and document historic properties.
I enjoy working with GIS and am currently working on a project that involves GIS data consistency. This involves the review of inaccurate, missing and outdated survey data. I enjoy the challenges of learning GIS as well as analyzing large amounts of data. This work involves analyzing data for roughly 85,000 historic properties in our database.
There is no substitute for taking on preservation projects and learning the ropes firsthand. Besides the projects in my classes, I completed a buildings research internship at Preservation Buffalo Niagara which involved writing a local landmark application for the Rue Franklin Building at 341-343 Franklin St. These experiences gave me a better understanding of buildings research, the writing style of preservation and the local landmark process.