Historian to receive honorary degree from D&E

John C. Allen Jr., an architectural historian in Jefferson County, will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree from Davis & Elkins College during Saturday’s commencement ceremonies.

The award is presented in recognition of outstanding achievement in the humanities, original contribution to the creative arts, scholarship or other merits.

A graduate of Tulane University, Allen is a member of the Society of Architectural Historians and the Vernacular Architectural Forum. He has served on the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission for eight years and has lectured on historic architecture and preservation issues at the American Institute of Architects, Institute of Classical Architecture, Davis & Elkins College, Shepherd University, West Virginia University, Marshall University and other venues.

The study of architecture of the Shenandoah Valley is Allen’s passion. In his recent book, “Uncommon Vernacular: The Early Houses of Jefferson County, West Virginia, 1735-1835,” he profiles 250 separate buildings, ranging from plantation homes of George Washington’s family to the log houses of simple farmers. With the help of photos and illustrations, he details design, materials and construction techniques rooted in the mix of German, Scots-Irish, English and African cultures of Jefferson County.

Allen’s book won the Foreword Reviews’ 2011 Book of the Year Award for architecture, and earned its publisher, West Virginia University Press, an Independent Publisher Gold Award.

In October, Allen and his book were the focus of a special historic preservation event at D&E. His presentation detailing research for the book was followed by a panel discussion featuring historic preservationists from throughout the state. The talk also included an exhibition of photos and historic maps. Some of the photos, enlarged and framed for gallery display, remain on exhibit at D&E through the end of May.

Allen also serves as chairman of the board of the J.F. Allen Co. and resides on a historic farm in Jefferson County. He is the son of Davis & Elkins College Trustee Joyce Allen and John C. Allen Sr.

Commencement ceremonies are part of the college’s 104th Commencement Weekend activities this Friday and Saturday. All ceremonies are open to the public and will be held in the Myles Center for the Arts Harper-McNeeley Auditorium. No tickets are necessary to attend. More information is available by calling 304-637-1338 or visiting www.dewv.edu.