Archaeology, Architecture, Historic Preservation: Research and Consulting Services

Dennis J Pogue LLC

Brief Biography:

Dennis Pogue was born and raised in Iowa, graduated from the U of I in Iowa City with a BA in History, and in the 1970s made his way east to pursue his interest in studying the history of early America.  He was fortunate to be able to fashion a career out of his passion, first as an archaeologist primarily excavating colonial era plantations, then as a historic preservationist and museum administrator, and most recently as a teacher and consultant.  His graduate degrees in American Civilization with a focus in Museum Studies from the George Washington University and in Anthropology with a focus in Historical Archaeology from the American University, both in Washington, DC, broadened his horizons and laid the groundwork for his roles as a leader in researching, writing, and teaching about colonial American society and culture.  

Over the course of his 25-year career at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate, Museum & Gardens, Dr. Pogue directed the archaeological research program, oversaw the preservation of the Mansion and 13 other original 18th-century structures, restored several outbuildings and rooms in the house to their original appearance, and managed the reconstruction of a variety of structures and features of the plantation landscape. Initially hired as the founding director of the archaeology program, he rose within the organization to serve on the senior management team as the vice president in charge of all preservation-related activities on the estate.  He was instrumental as well in developing a wide range of programs to present and interpret the home of George Washington to Mount Vernon's one million annual visitors, and to audiences around the globe.  His signature projects include: 

  • Constructing the 16-sided treading barn and the associated structures and features that comprise the award-winning four-acre George Washington: Pioneer Farmer living history site;

  • Reconstructing the award-winning Mount Vernon distillery ​and restoring the adjacent gristmill, respectively the only operating authentic 18th-century whiskey distillery and automated Oliver Evans-designed grain mill in America;

  • Restoring the one-acre upper garden to its 18th-century appearance;

  • Restoring the greenhouse slave quarters, recreating an outlying cabin of the type that housed enslaved families, and conducting research and developing a variety of programs to portray and interpret slavery at Mount Vernon;

  • Restoring the Mansion and the associated outbuildings to accurately reflect the daily lives and activities of the entire plantation community.

The study of the material culture of Chesapeake slavery, and especially documenting the range of variation in the character of the habitations of the enslaved, remains a primary research interest.  In partnership with Professor Doug Sanford of the University of Mary Washington, Dr. Pogue secured a collaborative research grant (RZ-50619-06) from the National Endowment for the Humanities to launch an effort to compile and analyze data pertaining to slave housing in Virginia.  Over the two-year span of the initial grant (2007-09), information was gathered on more than 900 structures, including 355 extant buildings that had been previously identified as slave houses, and 30 of those structures were located and measured.  Through the technique of dendrochronology, the approximate construction dates of eight of those buildings (comprising 11 phases of construction) were determined, ranging from 1789 to 1858. Since the completion of the initial phase of work, many more structures have been studied and recorded with the assistance of volunteers and students from the University of Virginia and the University of Mary Washington, and this work is ongoing.

In January 2013, Dr. Pogue joined the faculty of the Historic Preservation program at the University of Maryland, College Park, in the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, as a half-time Adjunct Associate Professor. During the 2014 spring semester he served as the interim director of the program. 

Dr. Pogue lives in Woodbridge, Virginia, with his wife, Glyn, and their two sons, James and Kemper.


Conduct intensive and comprehensive physical investigations of historic structures for the purposes of preparing historic structure reports, building condition assessments, and interpretive programs;

Prepare nominations to the National Register for historic structures and archaeological sites;

Manage architectural and archaeological research and historic preservation projects;

Consult with museums and historic sites in formulating and implementing strategic and resource management plans;

Lecture on a wide range of topics in early American history, especially relating to colonial Chesapeake culture and society, George Washington and his Mount Vernon plantation, Virginia vernacular architecture, and the architecture of domestic slavery; and in conjunction with the publication of his award-winning book, Founding Spirits: George Washington and the Beginnings of the American Whiskey Industry (Harbour Books, 2011).