"Buildings realize culture" : Chinese vernacular architecture in the Pacific Northwest, 1860-1910
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Type of Work79 p.
ProgramMA in Historic Preservation
RightsTo view a complete copy of this thesis please contact Goucher College Special Collections & Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org or (410) 337-6075.
SubjectsVernacular architecture -- Chinese influences -- 20th century.
Architecture, Chinese -- Northwest, Pacific.
Vernacular architecture -- Northwest, Pacific -- Chinese influences.
Vernacular architecture -- Chinese influences -- 19th century.
Historic preservation -- Theses
Chinese immigrants to the Pacific Northwest (the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho) during the 1860 to 1910 period frequently built their own residences, commercial structures, and religious centers. These buildings, perceived by many of the builders as temporary, were generally expedient, utilitarian structures, incorporating little culture-specific decorative detailing. In time most such structures were abandoned, and today nearly all have deteriorated to archaeological ruins. This pioneering thesis explores the question of whether such buildings, in advanced states of decay, can be identified as examples of traditional Chinese vernacular architecture. During recent years a number of important English-language studies have been added to the body of literature addressing Chinese vernacular architecture. Drawing on these published sources, the author compiled descriptive information on Chinese vernacular construction, particularly that of southeastern China. Buildings constructed by late nineteenth and early twentieth century Chinese immigrants to the Pacific Northwest, documented archivally or archaeologically, were then compared with the Chinese descriptive materials to determine if traditional Chinese construction techniques had been retained. Preliminary results suggest that many Chinese, particularly those living in remote regions, continued to build structures resembling those of their homeland, although modified to adapt to new conditions encountered in America. Today, overseas Chinese habitation and commercial sites are frequently targeted by relic collectors, resulting in loss of valuable information regarding Pacific Northwest Chinese pioneers. This trail blazing thesis will assist historic preservation professionals in accurately identifying, recording, interpreting, and preserving architectural remains at late nineteenth and early twentieth century overseas Chinese sites. Such efforts will contribute to knowledge of these early pioneers' lives, and increase public awareness of Chinese immigrants' contributions to development of the American West.
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