Vernacular Architecture Forum Bibliography

The 2017 Advocacy Award went to the partnership of the MT Preservation Alliance, the MT History Foundation, and author/photographer Charlotte Caldwell for their “Big Sky Schoolhouses Statewide Preservation Project”. They have successfully advocated for the preservation of hundreds of rural school houses in Montana. During the past six years this non-profit partnership has raised awareness of the significance of Montana’s historic schoolhouses, and they are now a leading a statewide initiative to save them. Inspired by the 2012 publication of Ms. Caldwell’s beautiful book of photography and local narratives,Visions and Voices: Montana’s One-Room Schoolhouses, the partnership launched a grant program for schoolhouse preservation and an ambitious county-by-county inventory of every standing schoolhouse remaining in Montana. To-date theyhave raised funds to support two dozen schoolhouse preservation projects, and their inventory has recorded over 200 standing schoolhouses, with only 40 counties still to go! Two leading members of the Montana Preservation Alliance, Executive Director Chere Jiusto, and Outreach and Education Director Christine Brown accepted the award at the 2017 conference in Salt Lake City.

The Vernacular Architecture Forum encourages and supports citizen efforts to protect our vernacular built heritage. The protection and preservation of our vernacular built heritage depends on good stewardship by property owners supported by sound government land use policies. However, the long-term preservation of our cultural heritage is rarely achieved without the support of a well-informed, involved citizenry.


The VAF seeks to encourage citizen-based advocacy by recognizing exemplary efforts and achievements on behalf of our vernacular built heritage. The VAF Award for Advocacy honors individuals and groups for exceptional contributions toward the appreciation and protection of vernacular buildings and landscapes. The award recognizes outstanding initiative, commitment, and action to promote and protect vernacular resources. The award may be made in recognition of a specific advocacy effort, or on the basis of the nominee's long-term record of advocacy.

Criteria for nomination:

  • The Award for Advocacy is open to work performed in the conference region. Any public or private entity in these states may be nominated.
  • The basis of the nomination must be documented.
  • Award not based on victory (meaning not demolished) but demonstrating vision, outreach, reason, efficacy, players, timeline, and outcome.

Nominations must include the following within a PowerPoint not to exceed 15 slides: the parties involved, the period of time of their involvement, where and why it occurred, and the outcomes.

Awardee was given two full registrations to the conference and a certificate of excellence.

See our Tools for Advocacy including links to websites that offer information and advice to help you in your own advocacy efforts.

2017 Advocacy Award Committee
Marie O'Neill, chair
Tom Carter
Chris Wilson

Catherine W. Bishir Prize

The winners of the 2017 Catherine W. Bishir Prize are Sarah L. Lopez, Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Texas, Austin and Margaret M. Grubiak, Associate Professor of Architectural History at Villanova University, Pennsylvania.

Margaret Grubiak’s article "An Architecture for the Electronic Church: Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma,” was published in the April 2016 issue of Technology and Culture. Her nominator, editor Suzanne Moon wrote, “The combination of attention to physical infrastructure and to media is what makes this piece stand out for me.” Committee member Gabrielle Berlinger added that Grubiak’s article “raises the bar of research in our field by addressing an underrepresented intersection of media technology, religion, and architecture. She employs a combination of research methodologies that continues to extend the field beyond material study to archival research and theories of social space as they communicate how we build and shape our physical environments.”

Sarah Lopez’s book chapter “Putting Vista Hermosa ‘On the Map’: Migrant Boosterism in Distant Homelands,” appears in a 2016 volume titled Ethno-Architecture and the Politics of Migration, edited by Mirjana Lozanovska. In his nomination letter Paul Groth explained that Lopez links vernacular architecture investment in a small town in the south of Jalisco, Mexico, with migrant aspirations to reposition the town within a transnational global economy.”  According to committee member Gabrielle Berlinger, Lopez’s " combination of qualitative methods and social theories of place to examine the creation and re-creation of cultural spaces in the context of socio-political realities, such as immigration and market economics, pushes the field forward in its study of cultural landscapes. 

The Bishir Prize, named for longtime member and influential scholar Catherine W. Bishir, is awarded annually to the scholarly article from a juried North American publication that has made the most significant contribution to the study of vernacular architecture and cultural landscapes. In judging the nominated articles, the jurors look for an article that is based on primary research, that breaks new ground in interpretation or methodology, and that contributes generally to the intellectual vitality of vernacular studies. Entries may come from any discipline concerned with vernacular architecture studies. Articles published in the two years prior to the VAF annual conference are eligible for consideration. Please note that essays published as chapters in a book are also eligible if the volume is peer-reviewed, published within the time parameters specified, and the research presented in the essay is new. Anthologized collections are not eligible. The Bishir Prize was awarded for the first time in 2012.

Call for Nominations: 2018 Bishir Prize 

The Bishir Prize is awarded annually to the scholarly article from a juried North American publication that has made the most significant contribution to the study of vernacular architecture and cultural landscapes. Work published as a chapter in a book is eligible along with journal articles. Nominations should be based on primary research, break significant new ground in interpretation or methodology, and contribute to the intellectual vitality of vernacular studies. Entries may come from any discipline concerned with investigating vernacular architecture/landscape. Nominated pieces must bear the publication imprint of 2016 or 2017.

Deadline for submission is 1 February 2018. Send an electronic copy of the work to the prize committee: Elizabeth Collins Cromley (, Joseph Sciorra (, and Richard Longstreth, chair ( Please provide the author’s contact information along with your own. Note that the committee automatically considered all refereed articles appearing in the VAF’s journal, Buildings + Landscapes.

The prize winner and nominator will be notified in early March. The award will be presented at the Vernacular Architecture Forum annual meeting in early May.

To nominate an article please submit the following:

  • MS Word document providing contact information, publication data (name of book publishing company or title of journal, and date of publication), and a brief statement contextualizing the author(s) and article.
  • PDF copy of the article.
2018 Bishir Prize Committee

Richard Longstreth, chair

Joseph Sciorra

Betsy Cromley

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