Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Volchok, Elizabeth (2019). The Role of Cultural Preservation within the Resettlement Landscape: A Case Study of the Puerto Rican Vernacular in Philadelphia (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


This thesis examines the modification of the social and architectural landscape within their new place of residence, as Puerto Rican migrants move from their home state to the receiving state. By investigating the physical adaptation of space, I question what role cultural preservation, if any, serves the migrating communities in these periods of transition, specifically in cities with substantial development and growth pressures. For the purpose of this research, I define cultural preservation as the act of safeguarding and protecting a community-defined and identified interpretation of a collective and shared history and culture as it is represented within the physical and social space - as it is contained in both the neighborhood’s architecture and the memories of its residents. I analyze existing preservation practices whose aim is to safeguard cultural community assets and questioned whether or not these policies and practices potentially hinder or aid communities during periods of migration and integration. Finally, I question whether or not these adapted and integrated spatial forms define a new category of preservation, confronting the need to reconsider its, at times, static terminology.


Migration, Cultural heritage, Puerto Rico, Vernacular architecture, Philadelphia



Date Posted: 06 November 2019