The Misia Leonard Scholarship is a fund to help students, apprentices, and emerging professionals attend the International Preservation Trades Workshop. Founded in 2016, this scholarship is named in memory of Misia Leonard. Misia served on the PTN Board of Directors and was a strong advocate for the preservation of our cultural heritage. For over 20 years, she worked for the City of New York, spending the last eight of those as Director of the Historic Preservation Office for the Department of Design and Construction. While serving on the PTN Board of Directors, she was instrumental in the development of AIA/CES program.
The Misia Leonard Scholarship was dedicated in her honor in 2016. Since then, five students and apprentices annually receive financial assistance to attend the IPTW. This has been a great avenue for emergining professionals to learn about different trades, meet craftspeople, and get engaged with PTN. The Scholarship is supported by proceeds from the annual auction at IPTW.
Five different people were awarded scholarships to attend the 2022 IPTW at Belmont College. In the lead up to the 25th IPTW, we will feature one of their stories each month. This month we feature Corbet Walser. Consider donating to the PTN Scholarship Fund through direct donations and donating to the annual auction.
After nearly two years of global upheavals, at long last we converged on a grassy hill on the Allegheny Plateau in verdant eastern Ohio. Like Virgil and Dante, my father-in-law and I had journeyed through the dark and tempestuous night, driving from Boston in an ill-conceived long haul. We arrived in St. Clairsville with the sun; bleary-eyed, exhausted, but teeming with excitement for the days ahead.
My father-in-law is Steve Schuyler, the bookseller, and as we unloaded his wares, Steve introduced me to Dave Mertz, whose permanent smile and twinkling eyes betrayed a singularly winning spirit. I compare Steve to Virgil not merely because he is a veteran man of letters with whom I endured a turbulent journey, but also because he introduced me to so many noteworthies, his old friends, the founding pillars of PTN.
Although the weather was quite overcast, and at times even rainy, by fits and starts it improved before reaching a vernal climax on Saturday. In the intervening days, we were entertained and enlightened by numerous presentations and demonstrations.
As they are the furthest from my own training, I was especially impressed by the plaster casting, terrazzo and scagliola. The easy, unpretentious tone of the demonstrators belied the intricacy of their creations, but was echoed by their common refrain: "Do not be afraid to try this in your own work." To see titans deign to teach us mere mortals is quite the sight.
And sights there were, galore. I saw a slate roofer drive a hundred copper nails and not bend a single one. A thatcher hefted a sheaf of reeds and wielded a hobnailed mallet as his forebears had millenia before. And I was ever drawn back to the blacksmiths' forge, watching them ply a trade as old as time, whose theories modern science has vindicated as much as improved upon.
Yet for all of the reverence for the past so natural to our calling, there was still an overtone of Spring, of those things yet to come. Among heads grown heavy with decades of dear-bought experience there shone the young faces of new-minted preservationists, eager to inherit the grand tradition to which we have devoted our lives.
The meteorological jewel that was Saturday afternoon gave way to the emotional zenith of the banquet. It was held in the magnificent Scottish Rite Cathedral, in Wheeling, West Virginia, a town home to some of the finest bridges I saw all weekend, and I was staying with a friend in Pittsburgh. Hearts long quarantined opened like lilies to the heat, displaying the true marks of friendships (and dare I say, professional rivalries?), and as evening turned to night, the dinner mounted to an uproar of giving. Items were given up for auction, giving hands placed generous bids which would enable next year's conference, and all gave hearty farewells and promises to see each other then.
Again, thank you for everything. I had an amazing time and can't wait for the next IPTW.