Progress on the Rutherford County Cemetery Survey

By Michael Fletcher, CHP Graduate Research Assistant

A year ago, the Center for Historic Preservation (CHP) teamed up with the Rutherford County Office of Information Technology, the Rutherford County Archives, and Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center to begin a survey of all Rutherford County cemeteries. Since then, CHP alum Catherine Hawkins and I have traveled the county, locating and electronically mapping these pieces of our history. Much of our work builds on an earlier survey compiled by local historian Ernie Johns, with a large team of volunteers, beginning in the early 1970s. Still, through archival research and tips from the public, we have managed to locate and verify many cemeteries left off the original list.

Old Section of Jackson Ridge Cemetery, Jackson Ridge Road.

Old section of Jackson Ridge Cemetery, Jackson Ridge Road.

To date, we have visited almost 600 out of an estimated 800 cemeteries in Rutherford County. We hope to finish our field work by late spring or early summer. Eventually, our results will be available to the public with a searchable, informative Web site. Not only will this tool provide assistance to the county’s many genealogists and amateur historians, but it will also be useful to our county government in terms of growth and planning.

Catherine and I are often asked if we have any “favorite” cemeteries. This question might sound odd, but, more to the point, it is a difficult one to answer. Throughout our travels, we have been struck by the sheer variety of cemeteries, large and small. Rutherford County’s cemeteries represent an array of beliefs and funerary traditions.

Bradley Creek Cemetery, Bradley Creek Road.

Bradley Creek Cemetery, Bradley Creek Road.

Most people are familiar, of course, with the county’s larger cemeteries, such as Evergreen Cemetery in Murfreesboro and Roselawn Memorial Gardens on New Nashville Highway. The largest number of cemeteries, however, are small family plots, with fewer than 25 graves. Many are even smaller, with only one or two burials.

Trimble Slave Cemetery, adjacent to Trimble Cemetery on E. Trimble Road.

Trimble Slave Cemetery, adjacent to Trimble Cemetery on E. Trimble Road.

While most cemeteries in the county are rural, we have encountered graves in unlikely urban settings, including three unknown burials behind a house on Burton Street in Murfreesboro. In this case, the headstones had collapsed and had been slowly covered with earth. Similarly, some old cemeteries are located in modern subdivisions, a sure sign of the county’s growth that underscores this project’s importance for future planning.

If you have any information regarding cemeteries or graves in your area, please contact us at the Rutherford County Archives, 615-867-4609.

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Life During Wartime: Tennessee’s Civil War GIS Expands to Reveal African American History

By Dr. Susan W. Knowles, Digital Humanities Research Fellow, Center for Historic Preservation

I recently heard a National Public Radio story on the Syrian refugee crisis. It is shocking to realize that as much as fifty percent of the population has been displaced by three years of war. The reporter interviewed those in border area camps and described their overall feelings of hopelessness. Many had left home with little more than the clothes on their backs. Young men think that they have no future. Heads of households worry about how to take care of their families. Mothers try to comfort their children, cooking in primitive conditions with unfamiliar ingredients.

These perspectives on day-to-day life in the refugee camps pulled my mind’s eye to war-torn Tennessee during the Civil War—and especially to the plight of the many thousands who were displaced by the fighting. Those who had the means to do so left the state temporarily or sent their children to schools away from the war zone. Many who remained suffered severe privations. Life for African Americans proved especially difficult. Free-born, newly freed, or still enslaved, they faced severe challenges—not just from the perils of nearby combat but also from a society in transition.

For the past year, our partners at the Tennessee State Library & Archives and MTSU’s Geospatial Research Center have been creating an electronic map showing events and places where African American Tennesseans began to claim freedom and citizenship. (As the Center for Historic Preservation’s digital humanities research fellow, I worked with the team throughout the project.) Produced with matching funds from the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, this interactive map went live on February 13th. Now, the African American story takes its place alongside the overall wartime military history of the state in Tennessee’s online Civil War GIS (Geographic Information System). The project title, Landscape of Liberation: The African American Geography of Civil War Tennessee, is meant to evoke an image of time and place.

The Camp of the Contrabands on the Banks of the Mississippi, Fort Pickering, Memphis, Tenn—from a sketch by Henri Lovie, published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Nov. 22, 1862 (Courtesy of Shades of Gray and Blue (www.civilwarshades.org)).

“The Camp of the Contrabands on the Banks of the Mississippi, Fort Pickering, Memphis, Tenn.,” from a sketch by Henri Lovie, published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Nov. 22, 1862 (Courtesy of Shades of Gray and Blue (www.civilwarshades.org)).

At first labeled “contraband of war” by the Federal forces, formerly enslaved Tennesseans began moving into the public sphere as freedmen and women as the war progressed. Many were forced to flee their former homes as properties were destroyed or changed hands; others chose to leave and take their chances with Union authorities. Some remained, and tried to keep farms operating for community sustenance. Often with only a few possessions, those who chose to relocate encountered empty roads, neglected farm fields, and garrisoned towns.

Life was fraught with uncertainty in a state with such divided loyalties as Tennessee. The vote on secession had been almost evenly split. Because the capital and key sections of the state were officially under Federal jurisdiction by mid-1862, the Emancipation Proclamation issued on January 1, 1863, did not apply to Tennessee. There was no firm guarantee of civil rights for African Americans by public officials or in courts of law.

Map created by Patricia VornDick for the Crossville Military History Museum, showing counties that voted to join the Confederate States of America in beige, and those voting to remain loyal to the United States of America in gray. The white lines are modern county boundaries.

Map created by Patricia VornDick for the Crossville Military History Museum, showing counties that voted to join the Confederate States of America in beige, and those voting to remain loyal to the United States of America in gray. The white lines are modern county boundaries.

For African Americans, every encounter with an unknown person was potentially threatening. Many traveled known transportation corridors and sheltered near Federal encampments. Some men and women found employment with the Union military. By late 1863, thousands of men had enlisted in regiments that eventually came to be known as United States Colored Troops. More than 20,000 African American soldiers from Tennessee ultimately fought for the Union, the third largest total from any state. Scholars now agree that the strength, courage, and labor provided by USCT regiments ultimately turned the tide of war.

Landscape of Liberation is clickable by place on the map itself and searchable by county and locality. Either way, a synopsis of “what happened here” pops up and links to a primary source. For example, a hand-drawn map by W.O. Ferree of Fort Pickering, from the collection of the Tennessee State Museum, is labeled with specific locations, including a tent encampment of the “1st Battalion Colored Troops” at the south end. From military records, we know that Fort Pickering, located in Memphis on the banks of the Mississippi River, became the primary mustering site in Tennessee for “colored troops…as heavy artillery” beginning in the spring of 1863.

The Landscape of Liberation GIS application shows the self-emancipation of African Americans spatially and the extent to which they armed and fought for the Union. Overlapping clusters of activity in certain areas will prompt questions about whether similar events were occurring in smaller population pockets across the state. As those stories emerge through community outreach and additional research, the map will continue to expand, writing a new chapter of this transformative time in Tennessee’s history.

See Also:

“New Online Application Maps African-American History During the Civil War in Tennessee,” Library and Archives News: The Tennessee State Library and Archives Blog (Feb. 24, 2015).

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Changes Come to Tennessee’s Courthouse Squares

By Antoinette G. van Zelm, Programs Manager, Center for Historic Preservation

This image shows Union army tents on the lawn to the left of the Rutherford County Courthouse in about 1864.

This image shows Union army tents on the lawn to the right of the Rutherford County Courthouse in about 1864.

The Civil War and Reconstruction transformed many of Tennessee’s courthouse squares–at least temporarily. From occupying Union soldiers to newly freed African Americans, the very people who conducted business, held political meetings, and gathered to share news changed dramatically in towns across the state.

During the antebellum period, the courthouse square had solidified its position as the center of commerce, politics, and progress in Tennessee’s county seats. When the Civil War broke out, young men were recruited, feted, and sent off from these same squares. As the Union army made inroads into Middle and West Tennessee in 1862, Federal officers quickly discovered the significant practical and symbolic value of the courthouse and its square.

The house, located across from the Rutherford County Courthouse, where Alice Ready lived during the first few years of the Civil War.

Alice Ready lived here, just off the public square, in Murfreesboro during the first few years of the Civil War.

Courthouse squares became the sites of power struggles between Union occupiers and Confederate supporters, including many women. In Murfreesboro in the spring of 1862, for example, Alice Ready had one of Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s cavalrymen bring her the Rutherford County Courthouse flagstaff so that approaching Union troops would not be able to raise the Stars and Stripes over the building when they arrived in town. When the occupying forces later got wind that Alice had the flagstaff, she had it cut up, and then she tossed the pieces into “a fire hot enough to burn a whole Yankee.” Later that summer, Confederate supporter Kate Carney visited local citizens imprisoned at the courthouse and bluntly told the Union guards what she thought of them. Murfreesboro’s square became a full-fledged battleground just a few days later, when Confederate Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked the courthouse and freed its prisoners on July 13, 1862.

Marker on Sumner County, TN, Courthouse Square

This marker on the Sumner County Courthouse square indicates that African American men volunteered for the Union army on the square in 1863.

Emancipation also played out in Tennessee’s courthouse squares during and after the war. While African Americans had always been visible in town, often as slaves who were working for their owners, after emancipation they came to courthouse squares with new agendas. Men enlisted in the United States Colored Troops. As early as 1864, African Americans of all ages and both sexes gathered for political rallies and Emancipation Day celebrations. During Reconstruction, businesses opened that catered specifically to newly freed people–quite a contrast to the slave markets that had previously been located on Tennessee’s public squares.

This advertisement for a Freedmen's Store ran in the Jan. 1, 1868, edition of the Freedom's Watchman newspaper in Murfreesboro.

This ad ran in the Jan. 1, 1868, edition of the Freedom’s Watchman newspaper in Murfreesboro.

In this “world turned upside down,” Tennessee’s courthouse squares were contested terrain during Reconstruction. Political speeches and marches by formerly enslaved citizens took place under the threat of violent retaliation by white residents, many of whom were unwilling to accept African Americans as civic actors and were opposed to the Republican Party that most black Tennesseans supported. In 1867-68, the courthouse squares in Franklin, Murfreesboro, and Rogersville filled with the sounds of gunfire as political tensions erupted in racially charged “riots.”

About 11:00 A.M. the drums were beating and the banners were brought out. The speaker came out and proceeded to the Court House and the procession followed.”–A.N.C. Williams of Franklin, describing the July 6, 1867, political rally and belated July Fourth celebration led by the Colored Union League, of which he was a member.

During the post-Reconstruction years, Tennessee’s courthouse squares underwent physical changes as Victorian buildings replaced antebellum structures. Commemorative monuments and markers, many of which hearkened back to the Civil War, appeared at the turn of the century–and these will be the subject of my next blog post.

See Also:

Diary of Kate S. Carney, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina.

Diary of C. Alice Ready, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina.

James B. Jones, Jr., “The ‘Battle’ of Franklin: A Reconstruction Narrative,” Tennessee Historical Quarterly LXIV (Summer 2005): 110-119.

Occupied Murfreesboro: Historic Photographs from the Civil War Era (MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, 2004).

Lisa C. Tolbert, Constructing Townscapes: Space and Society in Antebellum Tennessee (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1999).

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Exploring “The Star Spangled Banner” with Fourth Graders–And Having a Teacher Evaluation at the Same Time

By Suzanne Costner, School Library Media Specialist, Fairview Elementary School, Blount County, Tennessee

This year, Southern Rambles will publish occasional posts from the Center for Historic Preservation’s partners and former students. We are grateful to Suzanne Costner, last summer’s teacher-in-residence with our Teaching with Primary Sources–MTSU program, for being our first guest-blogger.

A sample of the displays that classes had created with our art teacher.

A sample of the displays that classes had created with our art teacher.

Over the summer, I had the privilege of working with the Teaching with Primary Sources–MTSU program as an educator-in-residence. For those who aren’t familiar with the program, MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation is one of the TPS consortium members that helps provide training and support for teachers in using the digitized content of the Library of Congress. When an educator is chosen for the residency program, she or he works with the TPS–MTSU staff to explore the online content and develop lesson plans and resources for other educators to use. As part of that program, I wrote a lesson plan focusing on “The Star Spangled Banner.” My idea was to involve the art and music teachers as part of the learning experience. I included ideas for having the students sing the iconic song during music class and create patriotically themed artwork during art class.

When my principal scheduled my evaluation/observation for November, I decided to use “The Star-Spangled Banner” lesson, knowing it would coincide with Veterans Day. In this way, the song would relate to something happening in the students’ lives and have a meaningful connection.

Visitors to our Veterans Day program had the opportunity to view the students' artwork.

Visitors to our Veterans Day program had the opportunity to view the students’ artwork.

In preparation for the lesson, I made a few modifications since it would be taking place during library class and not in the regular classroom. That placed limitations on the length of the lesson because students would also need to choose and check out library books during a 40-minute period. Rather than having the students write out an essay describing their reaction to the song and identifying words and phrases that made the biggest impression on them, I used a die-cut machine and created red, white, and blue stars on which they could record the word or phrase that stood out to them. As an additional time-saver, I would have them jot down on the back of the star an occasion when they had heard the song performed, rather than having a discussion about it with the whole group. When my principal and I had our pre-observation conference, I explained my concerns about the time limits and the changes I had made to the lesson plan. We discussed my goals and objectives, and he told me that he was looking forward to his visit with the class.

On the day of the lesson, the students came in, dropped off their books at the circulation desk, and went to their seats. I explained that we would be looking at a famous document and talking about its meaning and importance. I asked them what they thought of when they heard the word “document.” One student said it was an important record like a driver’s license or a birth certificate. Another said it was something that has information in it, like a journal or even a computer file. I was very impressed that they all had a good grasp on the concept of a document.

Then I passed out copies of the original hand-written manuscript for the song and asked them to study it and look for clues about what it was, where and when it was written, etc. I wasn’t sure how many of them could actually read cursive, but one student looked at the first line and called out, “This is the Star Spangled Banner!” We talked about the events surrounding the creation of the song, and then I handed out the typed song sheet with all the lyrics on it. I remarked that this was a patriotic song, and asked them what “patriotic” meant. A student explained that it was something that showed pride in our country and had national ideas in it. Then I asked them to find phrases that fit that definition and share them with the class. Many of them focused on words from the chorus like “land of the free,” and “home of the brave.” But others looked through all the verses and pulled out phrases like “In God is our trust.” When we talked over their choices, they explained that it even says “In God We Trust” on our currency, so that was definitely a patriotic phrase.

I took the students' stars and mounted them on red, white, and blue poster board with a song sheet in the middle of each poster. These were then hung in the hallway.

I took the students’ stars and mounted them on red, white, and blue poster board with a song sheet in the middle of each poster. These were then hung in the hallway.

I handed out the precut stars and told them what kinds of things I wanted them to write on the front and on the back. We discussed a few examples of where they might have heard or seen a performance of the song. My principal was amused, and a little flattered, when several students said they had heard him sing it before a ball game at school. When they had finished with their writing, I asked if anyone had further thoughts to share about the lesson or about patriotic songs or documents. A student raised his hand and said, “When I hear ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ I can feel my heart start really pumping in my chest.” Another said, “My mom always gets tears in her eyes when they play it at the ball games.” A third said, “I like it when they play it at the track before the races and everyone stands up.” I told them we would listen to some performances of the song during their next library class, and they wanted to know why we couldn’t do that right away. I had to remind them that it was almost time for their homeroom teacher to come and get them.

When I had the follow-up conference for my observation, the principal told me he was very impressed with the lesson. He mentioned the comments the students had made and how on target they had been. He also said that he would have performed the song for us, if we had asked him, and then laughed. The results of the observation were all 4s and 5s on my ratings. Special strengths noted were making the lesson relevant, appealing to various learning styles, and addressing content-area standards. There were also points for promoting higher-order thinking, knowing my students and their ability levels, and my content-area knowledge. As we wrapped up, he said that he liked the way art and music had been included in the lesson and how it had all tied into the program for the holiday.

During our Veterans Day program, the entire school sang “The Star Spangled Banner” as a part of the program, and I saw quite a few teary-eyed adults in the audience.

During our Veterans Day program, the entire school sang “The Star Spangled Banner” as a part of the program, and I saw quite a few teary-eyed adults in the audience.

Teachers may feel intimidated by the idea of using primary sources in their lessons, but these documents and images promote higher-order thinking because students must use background knowledge to understand and analyze the sources. Students also respond well to firsthand accounts of historical events and are encouraged to look for other sources to corroborate or refute the information within those accounts. Analyzing primary sources encourages critical thinking and gives students a great opportunity to engage with history.

In addition, allowing students to interact with the material and approach it in their own ways makes the lesson flow much more smoothly. Since I gave my class the choice of sharing a word or a phrase from the song, they didn’t feel as if they might give a wrong answer–they could explain how it reflected their idea of a patriotic image. Giving them a chance to share a memory of a performance of the song validated their own experiences– whether it was at a Little League game, the 411 Race Track, or watching the Olympics. And they all had the shared experience of practicing and performing the song for the program.

In addition to viewing the students' artwork, visitors to the Veterans Day program listened to poems about the armed forces that students had written during language arts class; students then presented these to the veterans in attendance.

In addition to viewing the students’ artwork, visitors to the Veterans Day program listened to poems about the armed forces that students had written during language arts class; students then presented these to the veterans in attendance.

In the end, it was a positive experience for all the students, the 4th grade teachers were happy that I had covered those standards, the art and music teachers were excited to be involved, parents and visitors loved the display of students’ work, and my principal gave me an excellent rating on my observation. What more could you want out of a lesson?

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Ferry Landings, Fords, and Roads: Traveling the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail

By Amy Kostine, Trail of Tears Project Historian, Center for Historic Preservation

The Old Nashville Highway is part of the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears.

The Old Nashville Highway in Rutherford County, Tennessee, is part of the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears.

Over the last two years, I have had the opportunity to travel most of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail while documenting buildings for the Trail of Tears Historic Building Survey, a partnership project with the National Trails Intermountain Region of the National Park Service. Before I began fieldwork for the survey project, I wondered what 175 years of development and improvements would mean for the roads that the Cherokee traveled on during their forced removal to Indian Territory. What would the roads look like today? Would any of them retain their early nineteenth-century characteristics? Armed with directions, maps, a sturdy vehicle, and my hiking boots, I began my journey to find out.

It is no secret that roads have changed over the last 175 years. An increase in population and the invention of the motor vehicle resulted in the modification of existing road networks. Many of the roads that the Cherokee traveled on during the Trail of Tears were paved and expanded over time, such as the Old Nashville Highway that bisects the Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Some roads have also been diverted from their original course. When traveling on these modified, historic roads, pay attention and look to your left and right. Intact segments of the Trail of Tears can often be seen paralleling the improved roads, particularly in Illinois and Kentucky.

An original roadbed of the Trail of Tears can be seen off U.S. Highway 70S in Cannon County, Tennessee.

An original roadbed of the Trail of Tears can be seen off U.S. Highway 70S in Cannon County, Tennessee.

Even after 175 years, though, there are many portions of the Trail that have changed little and remain dirt or gravel roads. On occasion, these roads still force you to ford creeks, while other times you can follow original roadbeds to the historic ferry landings where detachments crossed rivers. Some portions of the Trail of Tears are only accessible on foot, thus offering a chance to walk the Trail as many of the Cherokee did in 1838 and 1839. Almost untouched by time, places like these easily allow you to imagine the detachments of Cherokee making their way down the road.

Concrete slabs make fording this creek on the Trail of Tears in Missouri a much easier process today than it was in 1838.

Concrete slabs make fording this creek on the Trail of Tears in Missouri a much easier process today than it was in 1838.

Some of the most memorable, but solemn, parts of my fieldwork have taken place while I walked on these intact segments of the Trail. On a sunny day in November 2013, my colleague Leigh Ann Gardner and I found ourselves retracing the footsteps of the Cherokee on a well-preserved segment of the Trail of Tears in Warren County, Tennessee. It was almost 175 years later to the day that the Taylor detachment traveled down the very same road. As I walked, the November 9, 1838, journal entry of the Reverend Daniel Sabin Butrick, who traveled with Taylor’s detachment, echoed in my head:

We descended the mountain. The ground was frozen and the mountain steep, and the descent very long, so that I became alarmed, fearing I could scarcely get down with our carryall, though we had no load. It seemed to me almost impossible for heavy waggons [sic] to descend without damage, yet all came down safe, and we camped on Collin’s river in Warren County, Tenn.

A portion of the Taylor Route on private property in Warren County, Tennessee. Over the years, the weight of people, wagons, and horses compacted the earth, giving the roadbed a distinctive sunken appearance today.

A portion of the Taylor Route on private property in Warren County, Tennessee. Over the years, the weight of people, wagons, and horses compacted the earth, giving the roadbed a distinctive sunken appearance today.

Oftentimes, it is hard to comprehend people’s experiences from so long ago. Journals, letters, and newspaper articles written during the removal illuminate the Cherokee’s experiences, but physically retracing the Trail of Tears today is an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the journey to Indian Territory. The portions of the landscape that have changed little over the last 175 years (and there are many) offer glimpses of what it was like to travel these roads so long ago. While some of the roads have changed over time, their meaning and significance has not.

Special thanks to Gary Clendenon for taking the time to show Leigh Ann Gardner and me sites in Warren County, Tennessee.

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South Africa and New Insights into Shipping Container Architecture

By Abigail Gautreau, CHP Graduate Research Assistant

This past fall, I spent six weeks doing dissertation research in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa. I’ve been writing about my observations on my personal blog, so here I’d like to discuss shipping container architecture, a subject I first learned about a few years ago in one of Dr. Van West’s historic preservation classes. While in South Africa, I encountered numerous examples of this type of architecture, which got me thinking about how it fits into our definitions of architectural styles.

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Shipping container used as a driving school near Pilanesburg National Park and Game Reserve.

One of the distinctions we often make in historic preservation is between high style and vernacular architecture. High style architecture is generally defined by an adherence to aesthetic principles, and high style buildings are designed to make a statement about the wealth and prominence of their inhabitants. Vernacular architecture places functionality above aesthetics, though of course aesthetics are still a concern. Most of us live our lives in vernacular buildings, and we see them around us: ranch houses, bungalows, public schools, government buildings, and strip malls, to name a few.

When historic preservation as a field got its start in the United States during the nineteenth century, much of the attention was on saving examples of high style architecture. It wasn’t until later in the twentieth century that the focus shifted to preserving vernacular architecture that better reflected how ordinary people interacted with the built environment.

My first brush with shipping container architecture came from Stewart Brand’s How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built (1994). Brand argues that the best buildings are those that are most adaptable to meet the changing demands of their occupants and can thus be used over and over again. To this end, Brand describes how he converted a 40-foot shipping container into the office and research space he used to develop and write How Buildings Learn. Though Brand’s office was hardly the first example of a reused shipping container, the idea gained traction in the U.S. and Europe in the 2000s, as trade deficits meant that countries whose exports declined often had an overabundance of shipping containers.

I have since seen or read about shipping container apartments and shipping container malls. When I thought about shipping container homes, I tended to think of places like these. I never really considered shipping container architecture as part of the high style/vernacular spectrum, which was shortsighted on my part. Though they are highly utilitarian, these structures feature the sophisticated engineering and the focus on an aesthetically-pleasing outcome that clearly characterize high style architecture.

South Africa, of course, boasts high style shipping container architecture (like this amazing student housing and this trendy coffeeshop), but it is also home to an incredible variety of vernacular shipping container architecture. As I visited townships, I saw shipping containers everywhere, reused for all sorts of purposes: restaurants, shops, beauty salons, bus stops, and homes, just to name a few. The containers weren’t grouped together artfully to create larger spaces. Instead, individual containers were used to address a shortage of both space and building materials, providing watertight, easily modified spaces where people of few means could live and work.

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Seeing the resourcefulness with which these containers are reused and the impact they have on the built environment was an important reminder for me that while there is certainly value in high style architecture, vernacular architecture continues to convey a great deal more about how most people live.

 

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