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Northwest student Aaron Schmidt is pictured in front of the Fields House in nearby Barnard. He is working to have the home added to the National Register of Historic Places. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Northwest student Aaron Schmidt is pictured in front of the Fields House in nearby Barnard. He is working to have the home added to the National Register of Historic Places. (Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

Oct. 30, 2018

Schmidt creates nomination for National Register of Historic Places

By Tara Garcia, communication assistant

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A Northwest Missouri State student has enhanced his research skills to become a historic preservationist by nominating a local home for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

Aaron Schmidt, a senior history major and geography minor from St. Joseph, Missouri, has worked for nearly a year to nominate a craftsman-style home in Barnard, Missouri.

“We are trying to get this property on the list based on its architectural merit,” Schmidt said. “It’s certainly one of the most distinguishable properties architecturally because of its scale, arts and crafts-inspired touches, and its commanding layout. The house still maintains most of its original interior and exterior features.”

The Fields House is a two-story craftsman-style home with a wrap-around platform porch. The structure was built on a concrete block foundation. The home is in strong condition and retains most of the original exterior and interior features, such as built-in light fixtures, furniture and natural wood encased doors and windows.

The process began when Rebecca Egbert, the owner of the Fields House, connected with Northwest Associate Professor of History Dr. Elyssa Ford to discuss whether the history program could help build the nomination. Schmidt took on the project and has been diligent in his work, which began last December.

Now in the final stages, the project involved creating a 40-page report outlining the home's historical and architectural significance, including floorplans and photos. The State Historic Preservation Office will review it and determine whether the Fields House is fit to be added to the registry.

Schmidt’s first draft of the report received positive feedback from the State Historic Preservation Office in July. Schmidt and Egbert will travel to Jefferson City in November to present their findings to the State Historic Preservation Office, which will determine whether to forward the nomination to the National Register Office in Washington, D.C., for a final decision.

Schmidt worked closely with Egbert and Tom Carneal, a former chair of Northwest’s history department, key figure at the Nodaway County Historical Society and regional expert on historic preservation. Schmidt also consulted with primary and secondary sources, including preliminary research by Janet Hawley, a local historian from Nodaway County.

“Aaron took experience and ran with it,” Carneal said. “His work was first class and I doubt if a professional architect could write a better description of the architectural details Aaron found in this house. He did a semester of preparatory work reading about the history of historic preservation, learning different architectural styles and studying the National Register nomination process. Because of this firsthand, profession-based learning experience, he now has a strong base in the theory and practice of National Registrar nominations.”

Schmidt believes the pursuit of such nominations for historic properties shows pride and respect for the past.

“There is decorum associated with the National Register and having an historic property listed is something for a homeowner and for the community to be proud of,” Schmidt said. “It helps safeguard a property from historically disruptive alterations that may take place in the future.”

Schmidt is no stranger to research. He won first place in the B.D. Owens Library’s annual research contest for two consecutive years at Northwest. He earned the top prize for his paper, “Nodaway County during the Civil War: A Graphical Examination,” last year. In 2016, he earned first place for his paper, “An Analysis of the Zimmermann Telegram in the Context of German Imperialism.”

“The department of humanities really encourages students to cultivate good writing and composition skills, which are paramount to have in projects like this,” Schmidt said. “I've gotten the opportunity to brush up on my architectural vocabulary and polish up my research skills, have a great collaboration with Tom Carneal and homeowner of the property.”

After completing his bachelor’s degree at Northwest, Schmidt plans to attend graduate school to learn more about historic preservation.   

"As a native of St. Joseph, which is largely defined by its history and architectural opulence, I have always had an interest in history and old buildings,” Schmidt said.


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