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Historic Preservation Library Guide

A library guide to support research in architectural history, preservation, documentation, and conservation.

Researching historic places

Some considerations for property research

Building Name: Consider names over time and in relation to specific audiences

Building Type: Consider function (consider change over time), form, or purpose

Client: Anonymous (vernacular), individual, institution, government, or corporate entity

Date: Design date, construction date, completion date, restoration date

Designer: Individual, architect, architectural firm, multiples over time, design firm.

Location / Context: Urban/suburban/rural, commercial/residential, zero lot

Period / Style: Periods are defined relationally as much as by time; styles can be revisited from one epoch to the next

Building Technology: Construction method & materials, technological innovations or significance

Significance: Historical, technological, aesthetic, cultural: first, last, best, tallest, largest, worst, "only example of ___," etc.

Changes over time: Alterations, additions, renovations, restorations, catastrophic damage, demolition

Why was it built?  Why was it built in this place, at this time, in this way? What were the alternatives?

Who benefited? Who did not? 

What impact did it have, as physical object and as meaningful object?

Why should we care now?

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