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The Faith and John Meem Preservation Trades Internship
Historic Preservation Blog from -
Contributed By: Historic Santa Fe Foundation

The Historic Santa Fe Foundation (HSFF) is one of the oldest and most vital preservation organizations in the country.  The eight Foundation-owned properties are some of the most significant properties in Santa Fe. 

Summer Internship Program Goals
  • To provide preservation students with hands-on preservation trades training working on historic properties
  • To expose preservation students to the daily workings of a local preservation organization
  • To provide preservation students with opportunities to observe local, state and federal preservation agencies in a functional setting
Internship Qualifications:
  • Intern must either be currently enrolled in a college-level preservation program or have recently graduated
  • Priority given to applicants from New Mexico
  • Expressed desire to gain experience in preservation trades
  • Prior experience in construction
  • Basic skills in carpentry, masonry and related trades
  • Ownership of basic hand tools
Term of Internship = 10 weeks 

Intern Duties:

  • Work under direction of HSSF Restoration Specialist performing maintenance, repairs and conservation of HSSF properties
  • Attend monthly meetings of HSSF Board
  • Attend bi-monthly meetings of Santa Fe’s Historic Design Review Board
  • Accompany, interview and observe activities of staff of City, State and
  • Federal agencies involved in preservation efforts on average of one day per week.
  • Attend and assist with HSSF events during term of internship
  • Prepare and present an evaluation report on internship experience at the conclusion of the term
Intern will be compensated for a 40 hour week at the rate of $10.00 per hour plus housing if needed during term of internship. 

Download Application at 
Applications should be received by Friday, April 13, 2012

Internship Program’s Response to Existing Needs 

Heritage Preservation of nearly any kind depends ultimately on a team of skilled workers who have learned the ethics and approaches of preservation as well as the disciplines of their own trades. In particular, the knowledge and skills associated with the traditional building trades are at the heart of architectural conservation. But sadly such skilled crafters are in increasingly short supply. 

There is a growing awareness in the United States and abroad that contemporary trades education is not providing the learning opportunities needed to prepare individuals for the complex challenges that arise when conserving historic sites.  Throughout the world, stakeholders in cultural heritage preservation are working to strengthen existing educational programs and create new models for training the next generation of craftspeople.  In countries such as Japan, Germany, and France, customary education practices have been adapted in order to sustain and transfer knowledge of traditional building crafts and to meet current restoration and construction needs.  A limited number of schools in the United States now offer traditional building trades training coupled with historic preservation courses. 

However, few if any schools in America offer actual hands-on experience in conserving historic earthen architecture.  It is this type of historic and pre-historic architecture that gives the southwest its unique regional flavor.  Most Americans, though, would be surprised to know that approximately 80% of the world’s housing is constructed of earthen materials, and approximately 40% of the world’s significant historic architecture is of the typology described as vernacular earthen construction. 

It is no coincidence that the tradition of New Mexico’s earthen architecture was placed on the list of New Mexico’s Most Endangered Places for the year 2003.  Without crafters skilled in working with these materials, property owners are at a loss when seeking human resources to preserve and maintain our unique architectural heritage.  

The HSSF summer internship program is conceived as a way of responding to the urgent needs for preservationists trained in the traditional crafts, especially those skills so essential for the appropriate conservation of the southwest’s unique vernacular architecture.  These essential skills must be acquired over time, on actual sites, and under the mentorship of experienced craftsmen.  The program provides a unique opportunity for preservation students to gain experience in the conservation of earthen architecture without sacrificing the opportunity for summer employment that is so essential for meeting educational expenses during the academic year. 

Rarely does reality live up to expectations, yet my experiences this summer as an intern with the Historic Santa Fe Foundation exceeded all expectations.  The Faith and John Gaw Meem Preservation Trades Internship appealed to me on many fronts:  my focus on historic preservation in graduate school;  Santa Fe’s location as the center of preservation activity in New Mexico;  the reputation of the Foundation both as an entity and individual board members being major influences in the preservation community; and the chance to dig into some old buildings and get hands-on experience.  Martin Davenport2005 Faith and John Meem Preservation Trades Intern Past InternsMartin Davenport 2005Will Powell 2006Ian Daitz 2007Maria Patricia Rojas 2008Josh Conrad 2009Holly Strachan 2010Peter K. Harper 2011  

Mailing Address:
545 Canyon Road, Santa Fe NM 87501, 505-983-2567Email

Posted: January 11, 2012
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