Date of Graduation
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
Within the field of historic preservation, often a single strategy for preservation is chosen from preservation, restoration, adaptive use or reconstruction. Occasionally it is appropriate to simultaneously implement two or more of those strategies. Adopting multiple strategies requires the involvement of different organizations whose goals and philosophies may clash. Stowe House is an example where restoration and adaptive use have been applied in tandem, forming the partnership of Stowe School, Stowe House Preservation Trust and the English National Trust. In this case forming a symbiotic tripartite partnership has resulted in the long-term survival of the Stowe estate.;The purpose of this study is to examine the restoration, adaptive use and historic site management of Stowe House, Buckingham, England using the narratives of individuals with controlling interest in the historic property. The Learning History Methodology (LHM), with its requisite interview process, was used as a means to record, validate and analyze various perspectives related to the preservation of the house. The completed narrative has the potential to inform future decisions made at Stowe and it may be useful to others undertaking similar restoration projects.;Many English country houses, once home to the elite, have been abandoned since the turn of the twentieth century due to the high expense of upkeep or the lack of heirs. Many have been destroyed, some have become house museums and others have been adaptively-used as schools or for other institutional uses (Martin, 1985). Stowe House, an eighteenth century Neo-classical ducal palace, was historically home to the Temple-Grenville family, prominent political figures during the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The house is surrounded by over 400 acres of landscaped gardens. In 1923 the estate was adaptively used as a private boys' boarding school, called Stowe School (Bevington, 2002). After over six decades of use by young boarders, the property was in need of attention and the school could not afford the repairs.;The English National Trust obtained stewardship of the Gardens in 1989 and the Stowe House Preservation Trust (SHPT) was formed in 1997 to obtain funding and to manage the house restoration and visitor services. A multi-phase restoration process began in 2000, while the building continued to serve the school and receive 5,000 visitors a year. The SHPT, English National Trust and Stowe School each have distinct responsibilities in caring for the property. The complexities arising from this partnership creates a unique case study pertaining to issues surrounding historic site management.;The Learning History Methodology, developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a case study approach which tells the story of change in an organization (Roth & Kleiner, n.d.). Through interviews, each participant is able to anonymously communicate their own unique experience. The interviews are transcribed by the researcher and then validated by the participants. The researcher then analyzes the validated responses and creates an overarching narrative reflective of the change process as seen through a variety of lenses. In the case of Stowe House, the restoration process is being documented in order to influence future decision-making.;The data is presented in the form of a Learning History document, highlighting the benefits and challenges of the partnership model in operation at Stowe House. The data revealed insight into the dynamics of the partnership; illuminating successful collaborations and areas of conflict between the partners. The Learning History document provides those involved at Stowe and those involved in the field of historic site management a learning document that explains the complicated partnership model and reveals opportunities for more efficient relationships and collaborations.
Phoenix, Anna D., "Restoration and Adaptive Use of a Historic English Country Estate: A Learning History" (2012). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 513.