Cleo and James Marston Fitch Thesis Grant

The Cleo and James Marston Fitch Thesis Grant was established in 2001 through an endowment by the estate of James Marston Fitch (1909-2000). It is given annually to a Columbia University Historic Preservation student to cover expenses incurred in Master's thesis research.

Children playing games in front of a vernacular building in Longtan village (Wuchuan, Zunyi, Guizhou, China), which was recognized as a Famous Historical and Cultural Village in 2010.

Photo courtesy of Cheng Liao.
2017 Grant Recipient: 
Cheng Liao

"Rethinking the Vernacular in China: Understanding the Dynamics of Social Transformation and the Evolution of Rural Architecture”

The physical forms of vernacular architecture and spatial use reflect the social systems and ideologies of the rural environment. This thesis seeks to rethink the preservation of vernacular architecture by analyzing the physical manifestations of three eras and their respective architectural layers, characterized by social identities in the history of China. In this sense, this thesis does not necessarily follow past practices of studying vernacular architecture, which prioritize formal, structural, and material analyses. It instead recognizes a paradigmatic shift in heritage theory and policy that seeks to understand and valorize the relationships between populations and their environment. 

Grant funding provided by Preservation Alumni assisted with cost of travel and field investigation that were necessary to complete the research. 

Past Fitch Grant recipients:

Alberto Sanchez-Sanchez, "Behind the Ecce Homo: Rural Development Policy and the Effects of Depopulation on the Preservation of Spanish Heritage"


Laura Groves, "Is there a Role for Preservation in a Favela?"

Emily Barr, "Pressing Issues: In-Kind Terra Cotta Replacement in the 21st Century"

Myun Song, "Wireless Sensing for Reinforced Concrete Structures and Concrete Repair"

Lorena Pérez Leighton, "1930s American Steel Houses: Modern Artifact or Traditional Dwelling?"

Susan Shay, "Cultural Landscape as Foil in Political Struggle"

Christine Huh, "The Bush Terminal Model Lofts and Early Reinforced Concrete Buildings on Brooklyn's Waterfront; Their Significance as Industrial Heritage"

Susie Jackson, "Natural Extractives as Wood Preservatives"

Takushi Yoshida, "Machine Aesthetics in Architecture: Adaptive-reuse of Grain Elevators in Buffalo as an Industrial Landscape"

Deborah Baldwin van Steen, "The Architecture of Calvin Pollard (1797-1850)"

Michael Caratzas, "Cross-Bronx: Preserving a Significant Urban Expressway and Its Megastructure"

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