After majoring in technical theater with a minor in Medieval European history, and spending several years as a roadie, Ian Stewart found himself working in a museum. It was there, in 2004, where he discovered a love for preserving history.
He received a master’s in preservation studies from Boston University’s School of American and New England Studies in 2017, with a focus in architectural history. His thesis was on Anglo-Dutch houses of the Hudson Valley, particularly those built prior to 1830. Ian’s primary area of research has been buildings constructed in the United States by Netherlandish immigrants, as well as the origins of those styles in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Ian was recognized for his work in this field when the New Netherland Institute awarded him the Alice P. Kenney award in 2018. Ian constantly strives to bring attention to this unique style of construction, which has been greatly overlooked, despite its influence on American architecture.
“As someone who is active in both the academic and trades worlds, I have seen the potential for great collaboration, and also the problems that are presented. There exists a massive stock of historic buildings, and there just aren’t enough skilled hands to fix them all, so they fall to development,” he said. “We could help to change that, and at the same time, we can help bring value back to hand skills, and give people the chance to make a good living. I’m currently helping to develop a preservation trades curriculum in conjunction with the New York’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and Hudson Valley Community College.”
Ian is also co-founder and co-president of Water for Puerto Rico/Agua Para Puerto Rico.