A Brief History of the American Academy in Rome through the Lens of Historic Preservation Adele Chatfield-Taylor
Founded in 1894 as the first U. S. graduate program in architecture, the American Academy in Rome survived the storm of the 20th century, but required many years of historic preservation to make it into the 21st. During this period, preservation itself evolved into what James Marston Fitch referred to as the “curatorial management of the built environment”. This is the story of that process and its many dimensions across time.
For 50 years, Adele Chatfield-Taylor has worked as a teacher, lecturer, staff member of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, founder of the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation, Director of the Design Arts Program at the NEA, and member of not-for-profit commissions and boards concerned with the arts and architecture and the question of how to save and reuse old buildings. Her interest is in not so much “historic preservation” when that implies strict, expensive, complete restorations and ultimately velvet ropes, but instead the fate of the old – anything that is valuable because of its history, design, context, or simple survival – that needs saving because it still has life in it – the ordinary as well as the exquisite. From 1988-2013, Adele served as President and CEO of the American Academy in Rome, a center for independent study and advanced research in the fine arts and humanities. This was a multi-dimensional adventure involving the revival of the physical plant, the endowment, the mission, the food, and every dimension of that venerable institution.