Assistant Professor Tara A. Dudley teaches interior design history and architectural history courses. Her scholarship examines the contributions of African American builders and architects to the American built environment, focusing on the antebellum and Reconstruction eras in the US South. Her approach to the study of cultural resources is interdisciplinary with a focus on nineteenth-century American design, African American architectural history, historic preservation, and material culture. She is the author of Building Antebellum New Orleans: Free People of Color and Their Influence (University of Texas Press, 2021), winner of the Association of American Publishers 2022 Prose Award in Architecture & Urban Planning. Her in-progress works include a biography on the life and work of African-American architect John Saunders Chase. As a member of the University’s Commemorative and Contextualization Projects research team, Dr. Dudley is also engaged in research on the contributions of Black builders and craftsmen to the built environment of The University of Texas campus. She is partnering with the Neill-Cochran House Museum to develop interpretive programming around the only intact slave quarters building in Austin which is located on the museum grounds.
Dr. Dudley served as a senior architectural historian for Austin-based preservation consulting firm HHM & Associates, Inc. for two decades and continues to consult on preservation projects nationwide. She is well-versed in the integration of scholarly inquiry and professional practice and has expertise in the preparation of historic furnishings reports, National Register of Historic Places nominations, historic resource surveys, and interpretive planning for historic sites. She is the current chair of the Texas State Board of Review, the advisory committee that advises the State Historic Preservation Officer regarding National Register nominations.
- Doctor of Philosophy, Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin, 2012
- Master of Science in Architectural Studies (Historic Preservation), The University of Texas at Austin, 2003
- Bachelor of Arts (Art History), Princeton University, 1999
“A Very Valuable Man”: Enslaved Builders and the Making of Texas,” in The Power of Place: Defining Material Culture in Pre-1900 Texas, The Lower South, and the Southwest, The David B. Warren Symposium, Volume 8, Houston: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2022
Reckoning with the Past: Slavery, Segregation, and Gentrification in Austin (with Rowena Houghton Dasch), Austin: Neill-Cochran House Museum, November 2021
Building Antebellum New Orleans: Free People of Color and their Influence, Austin: University of Texas Press, August 2021
- 2022 Summerlee Book Prize in Nonfiction, Center for History and Culture of Southeast Texas and the Upper Gulf Coast
- 2022 Category Winner: Architecture and Urban Planning, Association of American Publishers PROSE Award
- 2022 Best Book Prize Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians (SESAH)
- 2022 The University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning on the Brinck Award
“There Is Something Else to be Done”: The Life and Career of John Saunders Chase (1925-2012) (manuscript in progress; under contract with UT Press)
- “Race and Architecture at UT: Researching and Teaching Difficult and Contested Histories in the Built Environment,” Platform, biannual publication, School of Architecture, University of Texas at Austin (November 2022)
- “Constructing Class(icism): Enslaved Masons in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Austin,” Classicist 19: Texas (November 2022)
- “'Austin’s most prosperous colored men’: Freedmen Builders and Craftsmen in Austin, Texas, 1870-1900,” ARRIS 33 (October 2022)
- “Foreword,” ISSUE 17, Austin: School of Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin, Fall 2021
- “Free Women of Color and Architecture in Antebellum New Orleans,” in “Roundtable: Constructing Race and Architecture, 1400-1800, Part I,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 80: 3 (September 2021)
- "Before West Campus: Rediscovery and Preservation of Wheatville's West Campus," Platform (2019-2020): 8-11.
- “On Madam Walker’s Architecture,” Black Perspectives (blog), published by African American Intellectual History Society, May 22, 2019.
- “The Family Business: New Research Explores How Free People of Color Built Wealth and Community Through Real Estate,” Preservation in Print, October 2018
- "Seeking the Ideal African-American Interior: The Walker Residences and Salon in New York” Studies in the Decorative Arts (Fall/Winter 2006-2007)
- “A Tale of Two Interiors,” Platform (Winter 2003), biannual publication, School of Architecture, University of Texas at Austin
- “Fine Things are Without Value: Inside the Shadows.” Interpretive guidebook. Shadows-on-the-Teche, New Iberia, 2001
- “African and African-American Art.” Brochure. The Art Museum, Princeton University, 1999
- "For Whites": Contextualizing Race and Architecture at UT, Mebane Gallery, Goldsmith Hall, UTSOA, March 6-April 14, 2023
- "Reckoning with the Past: Slavery, Segregation, and Gentrification in Austin," Neill-Cochran House Museum, February 22 - December 31, 2020
- “The Free People of Color Who Built Antebellum New Orleans,” Preservation Resource Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, October 6 – November 16, 2018
- “An Eastside Story: Churches of East Austin,” text for Liz Moskowitz photography exhibit hosted by Six Square/Preservation Austin, March 3-March 24, 2017
SELECT PROFESSIONAL REPORTS
- Interpretive Plan for the Oakwood Cemetery Historic Colored Grounds, Austin, Texas (in progress)*
- Historic Furnishings Report, Wick House, Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, New Jersey, 2022*
- “Creating Community: A Geographical Approach to Inclusive History at Oakwood Cemetery,” 3-D modeling project, Austin, Texas, 2022
- Historic Furnishings Report for Slave Quarters Building at the Washington and Mary Hill House, Neill-Cochran House Museum, Austin, Texas, 2022
- Historic Furnishings Report for the Jacob Ford, Jr. Mansion, Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, New Jersey, 2022
- Historic Furnishings Reports for the MLK Birth Home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Fire Station No. 6, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, Atlanta, Georgia, 2021
- Historic Context Study of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit (HART) Rail Line, Honolulu County, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, in progress
- National Register Nomination, Naval Aviation Supply Depot Personnel Camp Quonset Hut 33, Pearl City, Hawai'i, 2019
- Local Historic District Application and Design Guidelines for the Robertson Hill Local Historic District, Austin, Texas, 2019
- Lower Waller Creek Historic Context Study, Waller Creek Conservancy, 2018
- Brownsville Historic Resources Survey and National Register District Nomination, Brownsville, Texas, 2018
- National Register District Nomination, Kingsville Downtown Historic District, Kingsville, Texas, 2018
- National Register Nomination, Cambridge Tower, Austin, Texas, 2018
- National Register District Nomination for Boston National Historic Site, Boston, Massachusetts, 2017
- Historic Furnishings Report, Hampton National Historic Site, 2017
- Historic Furnishings Report, Show Barn, Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, 2017.
- Historic Resources Survey of East Austin, 2016.
- Historic Furnishings Report, White House Aides and Communications Complex, Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, 2016.
- Combined Historic Structure and Historic Furnishings Report, Secret Service Command Post, Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, 2014-2015
- Historic Furnishings Report and Implementation Plan, Portion of Landscape Design Office, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, 2010-2011
- Historic District Design Guidelines for Leesville, Lake Charles, and Crowley, Louisiana, 2011.
- Interpretive Brochure Development for “Shadowland Café,” West, Texas, 2011.
- Historic Furnishings Report for Bunker Hill Granite Lodge, Boston National Historical Park, 2009-2011
- Historical Interpretive Marker, Visitors Center Exhibit, and Docent Manual Project, Tule Springs Ranch at Floyd Lamb State Park, Las Vegas, Nevada, 2011
- Interpretive Plan and Interior Rehabilitation of Interior of Foreman’s House, Las Vegas, Nevada Tule Springs Ranch, Floyd Lamb Park, 2008 – 2009
- Historical Interpretive Program in Response to a Natural Disaster for Naval Air Station Pensacola, Pensacola, Florida, 2007
REPORTS AS PRIMARY AUTHOR
- Furnishing Plan for the French Legation Museum, Austin, Texas, 2006
- National Register Nomination for the William Buckner and Sue Houston House, Gonzales, Texas, May 2003 (listed to the National Register of Historic Places August 2003)
CONFERENCES AND SYMPOSIA PRESENTATIONS
- “‘A Very Valuable Man’: Enslaved Builders and the Making of Texas,” 2021 David Warren Symposium on American Material Culture and the Texas Experience: “The Power of Place: Defining Material Culture in Pre-1900 Texas, the Lower South, and the Southwest,” Bayou Bend House and Gardens, Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, pending February 2021
- “Cherchez les femmes, recherchez les femmes,” in “Race, Health, and the Environment” session, Southern Historical Association, November 2020
- “‘Austin’s most prosperous colored men’: Freedmen Builders and Craftsmen in Austin, Texas, 1870-1900,” on “Finding Late 19th Century African American Builders, Architecture, and Landscapes: A Texas Case Study” panel, Southeast Society of Architectural Historians, panel chair and presenter, October 2020
- “Rediscovering African American Builders in Austin’s Black Settlements,” on “The State of Black Architecture in Historic Black Settlements” panel, Vernacular Architecture Forum Virtual Conference, May 2020
- “National Register Listings and the African American Experience,” Conservation Society of San Antonio Symposium, February 2020
- “Free People of Color and the Architecture of Antebellum New Orleans,” Making New Orleans Home: A Tricentennial Symposium, March 2018, “Creating Home: 300 Years of Builders and Architects in New Orleans” Architecture Panel
- University of Texas at Arlington David Dillon Symposium “Equity + Freedom's Footprint in Dallas Freedman's Towns,” November 2017, Panelist: Heritage and Preservation
- “Gens de couleur libres and the Social History of Architecture in Tremé,” Williams Research Center Annual Symposium “Perspectives on New Orleans Architecture: Past, Present, Future,” February 2016.
- “Revealing the contributions of the gens de couleur libres to New Orleans’ antebellum architecture: a new a new approach,” Louisiana Historical Association Annual Meeting, March 2015
- “The gens de couleur libres and the architecture of antebellum New Orleans: a new approach,” Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference, April 2014
- “The Influence of the gens de couleur libres on the architecture of Antebellum Louisiana,” SAH Annual Conference, April 2006
- “Defining Community: The African American Diaspora in East Austin,” AASLH Annual Meeting, September 2017
- East Austin: Gentrification, transitioning neighborhoods, displaced cultural memories, walking tour for University of Texas Department of American Studies and Michener Center, Harry Ransom Center, January 2017
- African American History in East Austin. Jane Jacobs/ Jane’s Walk USA local neighborhood tour. April 2016.
- “Palimpsests of Color: Transition, Gentrification, and Hidden History in Austin’s Black Neighborhoods,” Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference, April 2014
Office: WMB 6.112