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Class meetings are a venue for workshops and other activities that help students complete the two major course projects: an analysis of industrial and agricultural modernization through mills and plantations, and the creation of a historical atlas of architecture in upstate New York. Class sessions also accommodate lectures and discussion of readings. The lectures and readings threaded through the semester address key buildings, figures, and styles along with major theoretical and historical analytics.They provide a historical and theoretical framework to guide and contextualize the case study projects.


  • Native American and colonial architectures
  • Plantations and agricultural modernization
  • Mills and industrial modernization
  • Early republican urbanization
  • Discipline and biopolitics in institutional building types
  • Utopianism and intentional communities
  • New technologies and building processes
  • Social reform through domestic design
  • High styles and vernaculars
  • Suburbanization

Walking tours of downtown Syracuse and visits to nearby sites allow us to engage directly with representative examples of major types as well as distinctive landmarks of early 19th century architecture. Site visits include:

  • Hanford Mill Museum, a working water-powered mill and industrial complex
  • Lorenzo, a Federalist planter's house and grounds
  • Erie Canal Museum, the sole remaining weighlock from the U.S. canal system
  • Underground Railroad and fugitive slave rescue sites in downtown Syracuse
  • Auburn Correctional Center, one of two key prototypes for 19th-century prison design
  • Houses of Harriet Tubman and Secretary of State John Seward
  • Oneida Community Mansion House, home to the nation's largest and longest-running 19th-century utopian community

The two primary assignments are research projects focusing on sites and topics of student choosing. The first project is a four-week analysis of a person, building, site, event, or topic relating to the two major architectural systems of production in the early 19th century United States: MILLS and PLANTATIONS. The second project is an eight-week investigation into a person, building, site, event, or topic along the Erie Canal, the transporation armature that profoundly shaped the development, urbanism, and architecture of Upstate New York. These research projects are gathered in the HISTORICAL ATLAS presented on this site.