Educational Programs & Resources

Architectural History Field School

2020 Field School Dates: May 17-30; the deadline to apply is April 13.

Due to COVID-19, The Architectural History Field School is canceled. We hope to reschedule it for later in 2020, but if we are not able to, we hope it will return in 2021. 

Poplar Forest is pleased to offer its continuing Architectural History and Restoration Field School, begun in 1990.

The restoration staff have designed the program to take advantage of the unique opportunities offered during the course of this model project. Multi-disciplinary approaches are emphasized and hands-on training is offered where possible. Selected field trips place this particular project in a broader conservation and restoration perspective. The program provides an awareness and a knowledge of the rich complexity of details and issues found in the architectural restoration of historic properties.

10 to 12 participants under the direction of the Director of Architectural Restoration receive training and education during an intensive 14 day program. Participants are accepted into the program from a variety of backgrounds, disciplines, and experience. Participants are selected on the basis of a demonstrated interest in the restoration process. Past participants include undergraduate and graduate students, historians, architects, architectural historians, craftsmen, contractors and others.

The program’s focus will be an understanding of the process of planning and implementing a museum-quality restoration project. Training and education consists of lectures, observation, architectural investigation, documentation, conservation techniques, and field trips to observe behind-the-scenes restoration work at other Jefferson sites and relevant projects in the region


History of Poplar Forest and Thomas Jefferson
Theory and Practice of Museum Quality Restoration
Architectural Investigation
Restoration Construction
Historic Materials
Historical Archaeology
Historical Interpretation
Restoration Theory Field Trips


FS Schedule 2015


  • Dates: May 17-May 30, 2020
  • Cost: $400 tuition
  • Food/Lodging: Field school students are responsible for their own food and lodging. Townhouse rooms with shared bath and kitchen facilities are available at Lynchburg College for approximately $36/day.
  • Credit: Pre-arranged independent college course credit is the responsibility of students and their respective colleges.
  • To Apply: Send cover letter stating why you would like to participate, resume and letter of recommendation to: Travis C. McDonald, Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, P.O. Box 419, Forest, VA 24551
  • Deadline: April 13, 2020
  • Need-based scholarships may be available. Submit separate statement outlining financial need.
  • Questions: Call Travis McDonald at 434.525.8123,  or email


“It exceeded my expectations. It was outstanding!”
“Its value as a learning tool is exemplary.”
“This was one of the best educational experiences I’ve ever had.”
“I was a bit concerned, having just completed a MS in preservation, but I learned so many new & exciting things.”
“A wonderful educational experience and lots of fun too. I feel fortunate to have participated.”
“The quality of the experience in regards to the caliber of people that we met, spoke to, and were lectured by was astounding.”
“As much was incorporated into a two-week program as one could wish … I was very pleased with the variety of students.”
“The examples that I was shown and the literature that I was given at the Field School have and will continue to help me in my field. The Poplar Forest Restoration Field School has given me the confidence and understanding I needed to pursue my dream of restoring historic houses.”

Due to COVID-19, The Architectural History Field School is canceled. We hope to reschedule it for later in 2020, but if we are not able to, we hope it will return in 2021. 

Apply Now

  • Accepted file types: pdf, doc, docx, Max. file size: 512 MB.

“I learned more practical experience in two weeks than I learned in two years of graduate school!” Past Restoration Field School Participant