• The Rural Awakening: The Village Improvement Movement in Early 20th-Century Vermont
    Diane Shaw

Historic Images of Arlington Vermont and Village Improvement Society efforts.

This history of the village improvement movement explores how Vermont communities reconceptualized and reconfigured the nature of their villages during the early twentieth century. New England agriculture lagged behind western farming, its rural manufactures were dwarfed by industrial centers, and its isolated villages lacked the luster of big cities. The WWI song "How 'Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm After They've Seen Paree?" was no idle refrain. Responding to dramatic population loss and jeremiads over New England's degeneration, village improvement societies looked to their built and natural landscapes as tools of architectural, environmental, social, and economic regeneration, and  emphasized historical relevance, natural beauty, recreational opportunity, and modern convenience within a livable community.  This project focuses on the twentieth-century New England village as an overlooked cultural landscape of entwined  rural, social, architectural, and urban  histories whose physical and cultural legacies continue to today.

Diane Shaw is an associate professor in the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University. Her research and teaching interests include vernacular architecture and regional traditions in North and Central America, urban design history, and the interpretation and preservation of cultural landscapes. Shaw's publications emphasize the cultural context behind the architecture of common and often overlooked North American urban landscapes. Her interdisciplinary study City Building on the Eastern Frontier: Sorting the New 19th-Century City (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004) developed the concept of vernacular urbanism as a method of examining the intertwined urban, architectural, and social processes that created a new type of city along the Erie Canal. Shaw has won several teaching honors, and has served on the boards of the Vernacular Architecture Forum and the Bureau of Historic Preservation for the State of Pennsylvania. She received an MA in American studies from the George Washington University and a PhD in architectural history from the University of California, Berkeley.