About the Project

This research project began in 2011 as a master's thesis (M.S., Historic Preservation), which was published in 2012 as Specialization and Significance: Assessing the Career and Works of Minerva Parker Nichols (Master's thesis, University of Pennsylvania, 2012).

As I have continued the project after graduation, pulling on each thread in a growing network of people, buildings, and professional associations connected to Minerva Parker Nichols, I have benefited tremendously from the interest and expertise of many others, including Bill Whitaker and Heather Isbell Schumacher, Aaron Wunsch, the Trainer family, and several property owners for Minerva-designed buildings. Most importantly, this project took on new life when I connected with Minerva Parker Nichols' own descendants, and most especially Carrie Baker. In recent years, I have benefited from the financial support of the James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation; with their support (and the creativity of several collaborators), I produced a podcast series and companion video shorts. I am grateful to everyone involved for their shared passion and support for this project.

This project is an ongoing one; the research continues, and this website will evolve as we learn more about Minerva Parker Nichols' life and work.

About the Researcher

Margaret (Molly) Lester is a Research Associate for PennPraxis at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to her role with PennPraxis, Molly was a 2019/20 Fellow for the James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation based on her media project related to Minerva Parker Nichols. She is also a 2020 grantee of the Sachs Program for Arts Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania. Previously, she worked as a freelance architectural historian and preservation planner, an editorial assistant for the University of Pennsylvania’s Change Over Time journal, a national program director for Partners for Sacred Places, and an architectural historian/historic tax credit consultant for Heritage Consulting Group. She is an occasional contributor to the Hidden City Daily, an online publication covering design and preservation issues in Philadelphia, a former co-chair of the steering committee for the Young Friends of the Preservation Alliance, and the founder of the InKind Baking Project. 


She holds a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Architectural History from the University of Virginia.

Background photograph by Kaitlyn Levesque

© 2020 by Molly Lester

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