The historic building and its components
should be carefully inventoried prior to taking any action; premature
clean-up of a structure or site can be a mistake. A careful look
at all spaces in and around a building may reveal loose architectural
artifacts, fragile evidence or clues to historic landscape features.
This thorough observation includes materials and features which
have fallen off due to deterioration, fragments removed and stored
in basements, attics or outbuildings, and even materials which
have seemingly been discarded.
In the beginning, anything that seems even
remotely meaningful should be saved. A common mistake is to presume
to know the value of artifacts or features at the beginning of
a project. Even if the period of significance or interpretation
is known from the beginning, evidence from all periods should
be protected. Documentation for future study or use includes labeling
and, if possible, photographing prior to storage in a secure place.