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Inventory

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.