Jessica, a December 2011 graduate who majored in History & Government, developed a passion for historic preservation. In fall 2009, she took the Introduction to Historic Preservation course, "on a whim." Jessica notes that she "always had an interest in public history and museum studies. I thought the course would be about preserving artifacts." Through class work and field trips, however, she learn how restoring historically significant buildings can have extraordinary economic impacts on communities.
Jessica enjoyed the course so much that she asked the course instructor, Jason Yots, if she could do an internship the following semester at his firm, Preservation Studios in Buffalo. “I loved it,” she notes, “It was my favorite experience ever!” She toured a variety of buildings in Erie and Niagara counties and researched insurance maps. She also researched the Canalside project in Buffalo; reviewing original maps for roads, buildings, and street light placement to insure historic accuracy.
It was during her internship that Jessica was also introduced to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. Built in the late 1800’s by architect H. H. Richardson and abandoned for years, there were many plans to restore the complex. “I just love the architecture – it’s one of my favorite buildings,” Jessica says. “It puts a mysterious look in the Buffalo cityscape.” She was so impressed with the building and the fight to preserve it, that she chose to center her senior thesis on it. Jessica ultimately won the department’s award for best thesis: “The Buffalo State Hospital for the Insane: A Symbol of Progress That Deserves to Be Preserved.”
While the Introduction to Historic Preservation course was most closely related to her current interests, along with the Introduction to Public History course, Jessica enjoyed and valued all her history courses. “I love to get the historical perspective on things that interest me,” she says. Of the political science courses that she took, she was especially impressed by the course Local Government Reform and Community Renewal, taught by local community activist Kevin Gaughan. “It really connected with my interests in using existing community resources, instead on spending on new construction or expansion,” she notes.
Following graduation, Jessica joined Preservation Studios and is now Assistant Project Manager. Building on the foundation created by her coursework and internship, she intends to continue working to preserve the architectural and historic treasures in the Buffalo/Niagara region.