James Jacobs

Primary fields

Region Wellington
About Me

I relocated to Wellington early in 2016 after having lived in Washington, DC, USA, for 16 years.  While in Washington, I worked 4 years on contract and 11 years as a staff historian for the Historic American Buildings Survey - a national collection of architectural heritage held at the Library of Congress, and the National Historic Landmarks (NHL) Program - the highest level of cultural resource designation in the USA.  Both programmes are divisions of the US National Park Service.

While in the US, I was an active member of the Society of Architectural Historians, the Vernacular Architecture Forum, and the Latrobe Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians (metro Washington, DC).  Work for these organizations ranged from committees to officer positions and included the planning and running of major meetings and events.  I am a current member of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand.

I hold a doctorate in American Studies from George Washington University, having concentrated on architecture, urbanism, and heritage conservation/preservation, a master's degree in architectural history from the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia, and a dual bachelor’s degree in history and the history of art & architecture from the University of Pittsburgh.

My academic work, projects for the National Park Service, and independent publications have included research and writing endeavours covering a full range of historical topics and epochs, and my approach to history aims to link the built environment -- architecture and landscape -- with the social and cultural history most affecting its creation and change over time.

I look forward to engaging with the history and built environment of New Zealand and to maintain an active professional life.




Specialities Architecture (in particular domestic); urban/suburban studies; cultural heritage documentation, listing, and designation.
Publications and Research

Detached America: Building Houses in Postwar Suburbia. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015.

“The President, the Press, and Proximity: The Creation of the White House Press Center.” White House History 37 (Spring 2015): 4-23.

Book Review. Saving Wright: The Freeman House and the Preservation of Meaning, Materials, and Modernity by Jeffrey M. Chusid. The Public Historian 35 (Feb. 2013): 116-118.

“Master of the House, Master of the Bath.” The Ultimate History Project (online history magazine). Apr. 2012.

“In a White House Passageway, Evidence Survives of James Hoban’s Building Skill.” White House History 29 (Summer 2011): 38-43.

“Beyond Levittown: The Design and Marketing of Belair at Bowie, Maryland.” In Housing Washington: Two Centuries of Residential Development and Planning in the National Capital Area, ed. Richard Longstreth. Chicago: Center for American Places at Columbia College Chicago, 2010. 85-109.

Co-author. “A Framework to Build Upon: HABS and the Impact of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.” In American Place: The Historic American Buildings Survey at Seventy-five Years. Washington, D.C. [2008]. 46-63.

“Social and Spatial Change in the Postwar Family Room.” Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture 13:1 (2006): 70-85.

“William Hamilton and The Woodlands: A Construction of Refinement in Philadelphia.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 130 (Apr. 2006): 181-209.

Other details

PHANZA Joining Date Mar-16