About Zachary

What do you do currently?

I have recently received my M.S. in Historic Preservation at the University of Vermont (UVM). I live mainly in Essex Junction, Vermont, but I serve remotely as a historic landmarks commissioner in my hometown of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. I take architecture photography and post to my Instagram and Flickr accounts, I play alto saxophone with the UVM hockey/basketball pep band, and I play recreational ice hockey around the Burlington, VT area.

Where are you from?

I lived in suburban Boston, Massachusetts for eight years before my family moved to my mother’s homeland of Morgan County, West Virginia, where I graduated from Berkeley Springs High School in 2017.

My paternal ancestors were Jews from Utena County, Lithuania and other parts of the Lithuania, Belarus, and Ukraine region of the Russian Empire. They came through Ellis Island in the early 20th century and my grandfather grew up in Brooklyn. My maternal ancestors, surnames Hott, Hatt, or Hutt, settled in the lower Shenandoah Valley in Virginia in the early 19th century. The Anabaptist martyr Hans/John Hut, mentioned in the book Martyr’s Mirror, is an ancestor.

How did you get into architecture history?

From a young age I would have a dream that took place in a distinctive house and then sketch it out the next day. As a teenager, I found real estate listing photos of an unusual postmodern-Tudor-revival house my grandfather had owned in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, and my nostalgia for childhood visits to that house led me to think in depth about its sense of place. Though it wasn’t historic, it led me to contemplate the senses of place created by other types of built environments, eventually paying attention to my hometown of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, where much of the former grand Victorian architecture had been demolished or allowed to decay. Up to that point I had thought I hated studying history, but that gave me the connection I needed to gain an interest in the stories that those places can tell.

What is your musical background?

I grew up in an intensely musical household and started piano lessons at nearly the same time as preschool. I commandeered my mother’s tape recorder and produced an entire bin of tapes of me either playing my lesson music on the family piano or singing improvisationally with a few friends. When my family moved to West Virginia, my sister and I started singing in a nondenominational community choir, which I continued until it folded when I was in high school. I started concert band in middle school, choosing saxophone because my mother had played it in school (and because it was the only wind instrument I could get any sound from). In high school I joined marching band, then the Morgan Community Concert Band during my junior year, where I played with musicians ranging from other teenagers to octogenarians.

I enjoyed marching band in high school so much that I promised myself I would continue in marching band all the way through my undergraduate studies, a promise I kept successfully except for the 2020 season due to COVID-19. One of my roommates at Shepherd University was involved in founding the Xi Alpha Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi Honorary Band Fraternity, and I was initiated the next semester as a senior. I now hold life membership in the fraternity.

I never considered becoming a music major in college because music has always been a stress-relieving activity with which I can forget about my other worries, even (and especially) when it is challenging, and I never wanted to spoil that by making it my full-time career.

Do you play any sports?

I have always liked running, and I ran cross country and track & field through middle school, but my enjoyment of it was limited at the time by not understanding my own body and consequently not improving my performance at all, usually having the worst scores on the team. Once I started in marching band, this filled the team-activity role for me well enough that I didn’t continue in cross country or track, though I still ran individually.

After starting grad school in Vermont where marching band hardly exists, I started ice skating and playing pick-up hockey (stick & puck) and intramural rec-league hockey, as well as a variant of ice hockey called broomball that is popular at northern universities. When in Vermont, do as the Vermonters do.

I usually don’t follow professional sports. I love ice hockey but know next to nothing about the NHL. Similarly, I never know what music is popular on the Billboard charts. My enjoyment of a lot of things hinges on not paying attention to the most extremely commercialized versions of them and instead focusing my energy on the domains where I’m personally and directly involved.