Research Proposal


Modeling Lancaster:  1929

Research Question: 

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with buildings, hotels, houses and architecture in general. As I grew older, I realized that I wanted to know the intricate details about how they were made, what drew people to them and how certain individuals were capable of creating such wonderful masterpieces and works of art.  Thus, I was instantly drawn to proposal to recreate downtown Lancaster city blocks through SketchUp.  Through the use of an extensive record of photographs, maps (including the Sandborn maps and drawings of the original buildings) and other sources, I strive to create a 3D replica of a few Lancaster city blocks.  In doing so, I hope to re-create a part of history, using the significant information/data up to the year 1929.

Consider this project our own personal architectural time machine.  I am so interested to see what was here 83 years ago.  What was our modern day downtown Lancaster like?  What were the buildings used for and did they serve their purpose well?  What sort of people inhabited them and most importantly, why were they built the way they built?

Research Hypothesis

With all of the sources within my grasp, both primary and secondary, I plan to investigate the buildings located on certain blocks of downtown Lancaster (North Queen Street), mainly to cut a glimpse through time and have a visual image of the past.  I plan to investigate the Utilitas, Firmitas and Venustas of each building on North Queen Street.  In doing so, I will be able to communicate how these historic and beautiful works were constructed in 1929.

Primary Sources

  • Martin Library Archive Room (directories and maps)*
  • Sandborn Maps
  • Lancasterhistory.orgà photographs and people/shop directories
  • Lancaster Historical Society visit

Secondary Sources

  • (Books, journals ad photographs from Martin and Shad)
  • Journals from JSTOR
  • Word Press
  • 1929 newspapers

Preliminary Plan

Week One

Finalize the blocks I want to research in my project.  After doing that, I will begin to gather the measurements of each and every building on North Queen street (possibly more streets, TBD) and start to draw them by hand.

 Week Two

Study the Sandborn maps of 1929 and analyze them.  See the materials they used during the construction.  Analyze how each building was created, and it’s Firmitas; determine how many stories it has, and begin to do extensive research on each building.

Week Three

Begin to re-create North Queen Street using SketchUp.  After having initially drew the buildings, in using their measurements and structure I will begin recreate/to do that digitally.  Simultaneously, I will continuously investigate the maps as well as the photographs and sources.

Begin a draft of the final paper and gather any sources/materials needed for the essay

Visit Downtown Lancaster (including the Lancaster History Society) again and visit the streets I will build; draw free hand sketches of each building and transcribe anything extraordinary/important of each building

Week Four

Revisit the Lancaster History Society and gather any materials, digitally and create hard copies.

In this week, I will gather any information I can regarding to the families and people that occupied the building as well.  I plan to also do a mini directory of my own, a directory of North Queen Street to be a written guide to the visual one I will be creating.  Although many of the records have been destroyed or lost since that time, whatever information I find is key and will bring me one step closer to truly discovering the 1929 Lancaster.

Week Five/Six

Complete the overall digitialization/3D model.  Scan the photographs and begin to attach them to the sketch up project.

Continue to work on the written aspect of my final project (essay TBD.)

Week Seven-On

The remainder of the weeks will be to:

  • Revisit the primary and secondary sources to gather any more necessary or needed facts
  • Finalize any last minute details of the 3D SketchUp project
  • Complete the final draft of the Paper
  • Create a PowerPoint presentation for the class:  equipped with sufficient amount of slides that I feel will help present my project clearly and effectively.
    • Have pictures of my 3D model
    • Use pictures from the Lancaster History Society of 1929
    • Highlight any interesting facts and surprising evidence found throughout the research (for instance any cool family facts or 1929 celebrities that influenced or dwelled in any of the buildings I am covering)

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