Treatments > Architectural Conservation Assessment > The Process of Architectural Investigation >

Determining the Purpose of Investigation

Both the purpose and scope of investigation need to be determined before formulating a particular approach. For example, investigation strictly for research purposes could produce information for an architectural survey or for an historic designation application at the local, state or national level.

Within the framework of The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, investigation is crucial for "identifying, retaining, and preserving the form and detailing of those architectural materials and features that are important in defining the historic character" of a property, whether for repair or replacement.

A rehabilitation project, for instance, might require an investigation to determine the historic configuration of interior spaces prior to partitioning a room to meet a compatible new use. Investigation for preservation work can entail more detailed information about an entire building, such as determining the physical sequence of construction to aid in interpretation. Investigation for a restoration project must be even more comprehensive in order to re-capture the exact form, features, finishes, and detailing of every component of the building.

Whether investigation will be undertaken by professionals — architects, conservators, historians — or by interested homeowners, the process is essentially comprised of a preliminary four-step procedure:

    1. historical research, [Research, on this site]
    2. documentation [HABS/HAER]
    3. inventory, and [Define architectural fragments (they may already do that later in the text )]
    4. stabilization. [Link to brief #1-3 Insert pcture of John Brown house or get pics from Seth or Becca]