For three weeks in July and August, Yestermorrow has been conducting the first of what is planned to be an annual course in the Ossola Valley of northern Italy. Yestermorrow is collaborating with the Canova Association, an organization dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of vernacular stone architecture in this region of the Alps bordering Switzerland. The course is being taught by Mac Rood and Thea Alvin from Yestermorrow and by a talented group of Italian master masons and architectural historians. As with most Yestermorrow courses there is a blend of studio design work, field trips and of on-site construction. The construction project is the restoration of a small water powered grain mill, including the traditional granite roof, weighing 830 pounds per square yard. Students learn how to make the “shingles” by splitting two inch slabs from blocks of granite. The mill walls were repaired and the timber roof structure rebuilt using recycled beams before the roofing was installed. The course has been very successful in the eyes of the local municipal officials. Although initially skeptical of the likelihood of a student powered construction team finishing an important piece of historic preservation, they are now excited to have Yestermorrow come back next year. Television and press will be on hand August 6 when the completed mill will be celebrated.
This course and other study abroad opportunities are important for Yestermorrow because they broadcast the value of the school to a much broader audience, allowing students the opportunity to work with other types of building construction and reinforcing the program taught at the main campus in Waitsfield which attracts over one thousand students per year to the Valley.
For more information and photos from the course in progress, visit: