Conclusion: The Process of Architectural Investigation

The Old House Web

Articles in this series: Determining the Purpose of Investigation  | Investigators and Investigative Skills | Studying the Fabric of the Historic Building | Looking More Closely  | Conducting the Architectural Investigation | After Weighing the Evidence | Keeping a Responsible Record  | Conclusion


Architectural investigation plays a critical role in making responsible decisions about treating and interpreting historic buildings. A successful project to research, inventory, document, and ultimately treat and interpret a building is directly linked to the knowledge and skills of

architectural investigators and other historic preservation specialists. The expressed goal of historic preservation is to protect and preserve materials and features that convey the significant history of a place. Careful architectural investigation-together with historical research-provides a firm foundation for this goal.



Bullock, Orin M. Jr., The Restoration Manual. Norwalk, CT.: Silvermine Publishers, 1966.

Burns, John A., editor. Recording Historic Structures. Washington, D.C.: The AIA Press, 1989.

Howard, Hugh. How Old Is This House?. New York: Noonday Press, 1989.

Howe, Barbara J., Dolores A. Fleming, Emory L. Kemp, and Ruth Ann Overbeck.Houses and Homes: Exploring Their History. Nashville, TN.: American Association for State and Local History, 1987.

Judd, Henry A., Before Restoration Begins. Nashville, TN.: American Association for State and Local History, 1973.

Kitchen, Judith L., Caring For Your Old House. Washington, D.C.: The Preservation Press, 1991.

Seale, William, Recreating the Historic House Interior. Nashville, TN.: American Association for State and Local History, 1979.

Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Washington, D.C.: Preservation Assistance Division, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1992.

Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines for Architectural and Engineering Documentation: HABS/HAER Standards. Washington, D.C.: HABS/HAER, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1990.


Travis C. McDonald, Jr., is an architectural historian who serves as the Director of Architectural Restoration at Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest near Lynchburg, Virginia. He respectively dedicates this work to three masters of architectural investigation: Henry A. Judd, former Chief Historical Architect of the National Park Service; Lee H. Nelson, former Chief, Preservation Assistance Division NPS; and Paul E. Buchanan, former Director of Architectural Research at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The author gratefully acknowledges the following professionals for their help in reviewing this manuscript: Edward A. Chappell, Colonial Williamsburg; E. Blaine Cliver, Preservation Assistance Division NPS; Stanley O. Graves, National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers; Bernard L. Herman, University of Delaware; H. Ward Jandl, Preservation Assistance Division NPS; Hugh C. Miller, Virginia State Historic Preservation Office; Orlando Ridout V, Maryland Historical Trust; William Seale; and professional staff members of the National Park Service. Timothy A. Buehner served as project coordinator and Kay D. Weeksserved as project editor.


Washington, D.C. September, 1994



This publication has been prepared pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, which directs the Secretary of the Interior to develop and make available information concerning historic properties. Technical Preservation Services (TPS), Heritage Preservation Services Division, National Park Service prepares standards, guidelines, and other educational materials on responsible historic preservation treatments for a broad public.


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