Historic Preservation


Marlena Hobson


Maria Hobson

  • BFA Virginia Commonwealth University (art history)
  • MA Virginia Commonwealth University (art history)
  • PhD Virginia Commonwealth University (art history)

Marlena Hobson has a PhD in art history from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Her dissertation focused on the work of the Novecento group of painters in 1920’s Italy and their relationship to Benito Mussolini and the Fascist Party. Marlena’s minor concentration was in Pre-Columbian art and architecture. She takes frequent trips to Mexico, including the Yucatan, Chiapas, Campeche, and Oaxaca regions to study ancient Mayan and Zapotec archeological sites.

In May 2004 Marlena took a group of Mary Baldwin College art students to Oaxaca as part of an interdisciplinary May Term abroad course with the Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. Marlena began teaching at Mary Baldwin College in fall 1987. She teaches courses in modern art, women in the arts, history of photography, American art and architecture, pre-Columbian art and architecture, and twentieth century Latin American art. She has published exhibition reviews in the New Art Examiner and the Art Papers Magazine.

Sara Nair James


Sara JamesDr. Sara Nair James

  • BA Mary Baldwin College (art)
  • MA Old Dominion University (Medieval Studies)
  • PhD University of Virginia (Italian Renaissance)

Sara Nair James is a Professor of Art History. She teaches art history and interdisciplinary courses in Ancient, Medieval, Italian Renaissance, Baroque, and early English art and architecture. During May Term, she leads groups of Mary Baldwin students on a trip — usually to Italy — to share her knowledge of, and enthusiasm for art, history, and contemporary culture. Dr. James has received travel grants for research from the Kress Foundation and the Ross and Yum Arnold Fund. For spring 2007, she has received her second appointment to the American Academy in Rome as a Visiting Scholar. She contributes regularly to the Sixteenth Century Journal, the Renaissance Quarterly, and Historians of British Art as a book reviewer. Her publications include a chapter, “Vasari on Signorelli: The Origins of the Grand Manner of Painting,” in Reading Vasari (Philip Wilson, 2005) and a book, entitled Signorelli and Fra Angelico at Orvieto: Liturgy, Poetry and a Vision of the End-time, (Ashgate Publishing, 2003)

Rick Potter


  • 1Potter403BA College of William and Mary (history and fine arts)
  • MA University of Virginia (architectural history, preservation)
  • PhD Auburn University (history)

Edmund (Rick) Potter is an assistant professor of history for Mary Baldwin College. He teaches both for the Residential College and the Adult Degree Program. Dr. Potter’s areas of scholarly interest include the history of technology, architectural history, modern Europe, and America post 1865. His dissertation examined the role of World War I in shaping the social use of architecture in inter-war Birmingham, England. He is a member of the American Historical Association, the Society of the History of Technology, the Society of Architectural Historians, and Phi Alpha Theta. Dr. Potter began his career in preservation in 1983 with the restoration of the Lobby of the Joseph Nichols Tavern, built in 1815. Since then, he has worked for the Lynchburg Museum System, Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, the National Park Service, and served for seven years as the Curator of Collections at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library. He has organized and participated in numerous restoration projects and co-written two National Register nominations.