July 13, 2024

Center for Historic Preservation Announces 2023 Book Prize

The University of Mary Washington Center for Historic Preservation is proud to award its 2023 Book Prize to Heritage and Hoop Skirts: How Natchez Created the Old South by Paul Hardin Kapp. Heritage and Hoop Skirts is a well-researched book that examines how the women of Natchez, Mississippi, underpinned a flagging Depression-era economy through an embellished interpretation of its history. However, Kapp goes well beyond just a simple narrative describing the process but rather weaves, in a wonderfully cohesive way, a complex and compelling story involving not only the Natchez Garden Club but federal Depression-era programs like the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA), which contributed to this re-imagined narrative.

While preservation efforts associated with selective elements of the built environment proved successful in many instances in Natchez, they did so at the cost of further marginalizing African Americans and perpetuating the myth surrounding the Lost Cause. Far from shying away from these complex issues, Heritage and Hoop Skirts offers a critical lens through which to view these preservation efforts. This book is a timely and relevant resource for preservationists in historic towns across the South who are interested in further understanding the movement during the 1930s and acknowledging how these biases continue to shape historical interpretation and representation today.

Paul Hardin Kapp is an associate professor of architecture in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, as well as the associate director of the Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Kapp also won the UMW Center for Historic Preservation Book Prize in 2013 for SynergiCity: Reinventing the Postindustrial City.

The University of Mary Washington Center for Historic Preservation has awarded this prize annually since 1989 to the book (or books) with the most potential for positively impacting the discipline of historic preservation in the United States. In making its selection, the jury focuses on books that break new ground or contribute to the intellectual vitality of the preservation movement. Winners receive a monetary prize and are invited to give a lecture at UMW. The jury was comprised of preservation academics, professionals, alumni and a current student.

2023 University of Mary Washington Book Prize Committee:
Michael Spencer, Associate Professor of Historic Preservation, University of Mary Washington (Chair)
Christine Henry, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Historic Preservation, University of Mary Washington
Kristen Laise, Executive Director, Belle Grove Plantation
Michelle Magalong, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation, University of Maryland School of Architecture
Andrew Wilkins, Ph.D., RPA, Cultural Resource Specialist, EMPSi
Abigail Zurfluh, UMW Class of 2023, Knight Scholar, Historic Preservation, University of Mary Washington