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Architectural Evidence: Studying the Fabric of the Historic Building

• Moisture; energy; (wood damage)


• Examples of structural systems (illustrations, and photon of sites), tooling marks
• Joinry, sheathing (nails, etc.)
• Moisture
• Architectural fragments
• Modified (by plumber!)
• Structure
• Dendrochronology

Attics and Basements

Attics and basements have been known as collection points for out-of-date, out-of-style and cast-off pieces such as mechanical systems, furnishings, family records and architectural fragments. These and other out-of-the-way places of a structure provide an excellent opportunity for non-destructive investigation. Not only are these areas where structural and framing members might be exposed to view, they are also areas which may have escaped the frequent alteration campaigns that occur in the more lived-in parts of a building.

If a building has been raised or lowered in height, evidence of change would be found in the attic as well as on the exterior. Evidence of additions might also be detected in both the attic and the basement. Attics frequently provide a "top-side" view at the ceiling below, revealing its material, manner of production and method of attachment. A "bottom-side" view of the roof sheathing or roof covering can be seen from the attic as well.

Basements generally relate more to human service functions in earlier buildings and to mechanical services in more recent eras. For example, a cellar of an urban 1812 house disclosed the following information during an investigation: first period bell system, identification of a servant's hall, hidden fireplace, displacement of the service stairs, identification of a servants' quarters, an 1850s furnace system, 1850s gas and plumbing systems, relocation of the kitchen in 1870, early use of 1890s concrete floor slabs and finally, twentieth century utility systems. While the earliest era had been established as the interpretation period, evidence from all periods was documented in order to understand and interpret how the house evolved or changed over time. (Keep this? Or add new one in table with images?)