MFA Alumni Stories | Interior Architecture

MFA Alumni Stories

Abby Nelson (Gentry), MFA 2012

Abby Nelson ‘12 (MFA Interior Architecture with a concentration in Historic Preservation) spent her time with the UNC Greensboro’s Interior Architecture Graduate Program working towards a future where she envisioned herself in an architecture firm working one-on-one saving old buildings.

Her career, as many do, took another path and she found herself working as the Main Street Manager for the City of Morganton. According to Abby, she is glad that her career took a different path. Among other responsibilities, she now gets to work with a community to bring vitality to an entire downtown made up of historically significant buildings.

Abby preparing for her undergraduate portfolio review at Appalachian State University in 2010.

Abby had previously earned her Bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from Appalachian State University. After graduating from their program, she was encouraged to begin looking to further her education in Interior Architecture and discovered UNCG’s Department of Interior Architecture’s MFA program.

“I was drawn to the Interior Architecture Department at UNCG because of the renowned Historic Preservation Master’s Degree program under the stewardship of Jo Ramsey Leimenstoll. While working toward my Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design at Appalachian State University, I became increasingly fascinated with historic architecture, history, and the way design unfolds lessons from the past.”

Historic Preservations alumni spending time together at professor emerita Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll’s home. From left to right: Dr. Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll, Maggie, Laura, Abby and Karen.

While embracing her passion in Historic Preservation at UNCG, Nelson experienced first-hand how hand-on this career is. One of her fondest memories is being in Field School where she learned how to blacksmith, repointed brick, dissected layers of paint, hewed logs, demolition and much more.

“To this day I still use those skills and lessons learned over that summer. It brought to life the physicality of preservation and the importance of the work in a way that a book could never do, at least not for me.”

Students Abby Nelson (left) and Maggie Johnson (right) working on repointing brick at Korner’s Folly in Kernersville, NC in 2011.

Now, Nelson stays connected with UNCG’s Department of Interior Architecture through the department’s NC Main Street Fellowship program where students are hired to do things such as Façade Design and Upper Floor Residential Schematics.

The best advice she could give to students is “the hours are long, the demand is great but stick with it. You’ll be glad you did.”

To find out more about the Main Street Fellowship Program, click here.

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