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Associate Professor, Architectural History

Louis Nelson

University of Virginia

Louis Nelson teaches courses in American architecture specializing in colonial and early national architecture, vernacular architecture, and theories and methods of sacred space. The majority of his work focuses on the early American South and the Greater Caribbean. Nelson is interested in the close examination of evidence, both material and textual, as a means of examining the ways architecture shapes the human experience. Nelson’s prominence in the field is reflected in his selection as a senior co-editor of Buildings and Landscapes, a leading scholarly venue for research in the field since 1982.  His interest in the colonial South has led him past the “sacred 13” where his fieldwork in Jamaica and the Leeward Islands has resulted in some of the first systematic recording of eighteenth and nineteenth-century English architecture in the Caribbean. He also directs the UVA Falmouth Field School in Historic Preservation, a month-long program held each summer in the coastal town of Falmouth, Jamaica. While his interest in the Caribbean began in colonial Anglican churches, his most recent work has focused on post-Emancipation domestic architecture. Working together with archaeologists, Nelson is interested using buildings to explore Afro-Caribbean culture through the transition from slavery to freedom.