Methods in Preservation

Phillip Becker Mansion, 534 Delaware Ave. Photo: Grace Çelik.

Phillip Becker Mansion, 534 Delaware Ave. Photo: Grace Çelik

This course introduces students to the basic guidelines, standards, research methods, and documentation techniques used in historic preservation to identify and record historic structures and sites. These kinds of research techniques explored by students included the development of site descriptions, creating historical narratives, reviewing existing scholarly and/or professional literature, collecting primary and secondary data, developing skills in architectural photography, and understanding the basics of documenting and analyzing historic material fabric. The course makes use of lectures, discussions, and fieldwork to introduce the various ways in which preservationists document historic sites and resources.



Grace Çelik, Erin Lakomski, Libertad Figuereo, Courtney Vona



URP 529/END529/ARC 529
Fall 2020


MS Arch, MUP

Students in Advanced Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation and MS Arch (Historic Preservation & Urban Design track) had the opportunity to develop skills necessary to document historic resources – buildings, sites, materials, and historic contexts. Students documented and analyzed the existing conditions of a property, identifying styles and character-defining features. Students learned to document and analyze the various types of materials and construction techniques found in historic properties and their condition. These materials include: masonry; wood; metals; roofs; windows; doors; entrances/porches; storefronts; spaces/features/finishes; as well as site and setting. Students developed historic contexts and narratives using primary source documents such as historic maps, archival documents, census data, photos, and city directories among others. They learned about the various methods to physically document historic properties including narratives, photography, photogrammetry, measured drawings, and new technologies. Students explored how documentation is used in practice through historic structures reports; Historic American Buildings Survey and Historic American Engineering Record documentation; National Register nominations; cultural landscape reports; and historic tax credits. 

Exploring methods of physical documentation, each student chose a building to fully document on the exterior. Students documented each elevation, noting character-defining features such as windows, ornament, doors, materials, form, etc. Students applied their research about materials and style in this documentation and analysis. Students also analyzed the integrity of the building and materials, applying the National Register seven aspects of integrity. This method of documentation includes photographs, sketches, and narrative. Through this process, students developed a case for why this building does or does not retain sufficient integrity to be National Register eligible.

In a later assignment focusing on historic research documentation, each student chose a building and conducted historic research to document the history of the building, including people, function, and changes. This research included both primary and secondary resources. It also included assessing the existing condition of the building to determine if the building retains sufficient integrity to convey historic meaning. A report discussing the history and historic context of the building was produced, including photo documentation. Based on the historic research and documentation of existing conditions, student determined if the property meets National Register eligibility requirements and retains sufficient integrity to be eligible for listing on the National Register