Some of the web versions of the Preservation Briefs differ somewhat from the printed versions.
However, as more and more work is done and increasing numbers of structures with complex constructional phases are encountered, the general features may not be sufficient to give the accuracy in dating that is currently required.Briefing What do we really know about any building? Focus on the big picture: owners, occupants, and shifts of cultural scenery. This includes the year it was built, names of the architect and builder, the materials used, the cost to build, additions and changes over time. Corroboration Gathering facts that confirm (or refute) the theories generated by Investigation.But one look at the kitchen, and you know they're both wrong. Pinpointing a home's birthday may be difficult. Rooms are added, additions built, roofs raised, and porches redesigned.Written records of construction and renovation may be confusing and conflicting. Abraham Lincoln's Home in Springfield, Illinois is a good example—it started out as a one-story Greek Revival style. Department of Interior shows you how to determine the distinctive character of an old building. "Character-defining elements," says the Brief, "include the overall shape of the building, its materials, craftsmanship, decorative details, interior spaces and features, as well as the various aspects of its site and environment."2.Dating a building by inscription is a long tradition, though few name the architect in such brief form as that on the Town Hall at Blandford Forum which reads 'Bastard, Architect, 1734'.The trouble with inscriptions, useful though they are, is that you cannot be sure that they are right (many have been added by later owners) or that they date more than a particular feature or phase of development.Architectural historians find out about buildings; who built them and when; what they were for; how they have been altered and take the form they do now; what people and events have been associated with them. 'D' for date, 'A' for architect, 'M' for materials and so on.The primacy given to date was preceded in later years only by a 'B' for a brief description of what sort of building the list description covered.Yet excitement about the unknown is heightened when a historic structure is examined architecturally, and its evolution over time emerges with increasing clarity to reveal the lives of its occupants.Architectural investigation is the critical first step in planning an appropriate treatment-understanding how a building has changed over time and assessing levels of deterioration.