Alumna Jessica Franke, AIA presented a paper at the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) annual Scientific Symposium in Sydney Australia. The presentation entitled “Responsible Preservation Elevates Women’s History” was co-authored by Ball State architecture faculty Assistant Professor J.P Hall and Associate Professor Dr. Kristin Barry. Jessi references her childhood fascination with historic homes in Fort Wayne as the catalyst for her academic pursuits. Originally from New Haven, Indiana, she completed a Bachelor of Science in Architecture with a minor in Historic Preservation in 2018 and went on to receive a Master of Science in Historic Preservation and Master of Architecture in 2020.

The paper for the symposium originated from a collaboration between Hall and Barry which eventually evolved into Franke’s thesis topic. Jessi was interested in researching “something relating to using historic preservation and architecture as tools for telling a fuller story of a place and its history.” After expressing her passion for women’s history and how it intersects with place to Hall, he suggested she look at Camp Chesterfield, a functioning Spiritualist camp in Indiana. Camp Chesterfield and Spiritualism itself, she says, “have a strong tie to the first wave of feminism in the United States.” The research focuses on the adaptive reuse of a long vacant hotel within the camp called the “Sunflower Hotel into a home for women to transition back into society.”

Jessi explains that her time spent at Ball State was crucial to her successful presentation of her research at the ICOMOS symposium. She says, “going through the program requires you to constantly present your ideas to others and it honed my public speaking skills, boosted my confidence, and helped me to think quick on my feet.” The relationships she’s maintained with Hall and Barry were extremely important to her preparation for the presentation. Jessi mentions that “it has been rewarding to slowly transition from student to colleague with some of the Ball State faculty and I really cherish being able to maintain those connections.”

Jessi works for Martin Riley Architects + Engineers of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Their office works on many projects, including new construction and historic preservation work. In addition to her work at Martin Riley, Jessi is also employed as an adjunct professor in the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State.

Article by Emily Minett, MSHP Graduate Assistant