Standards > Architectural Fragments


Standards > TerminologyNotation: ScopeNotation:SpaceObject ClassificationArchitectural Salvage

An architectural fragment is any part of a structure removed from its historic context. As examples, an architectural fragment may include:

  • doors (removed and stored in the past);
  • paint chips (located and removed during analysis);
  • hazardous material (abated rather than encapsulated);
  • deteriorated, infested, failed timber (replaced in kind);
  • plaster and lath (removed during electrical work);
  • sheet metal (salvaged during demolition of a failed roof).


Williamsburg Resolutions on Architectural Fragments

Note:The Williamsburg Resolutions were produced at the Seminar on Current Collections Management Practices for Architectural Fragments held in Williamsburg, Virginia, in September 1995. The seminar was sponsored by the National Park Service, the Association for Preservation Technology International, the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University, and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. The seminar was made possible, in part, with special funding by the National Park Service through its Cultural Resource Training Initiative.

"Arising from our shared concern for the preservation and appropriate use of architectural fragments, we believe that the historic context is the preferred location for building components. However, when objects become detached, they require professional standards of care and preservation. In that process, our responsibility is to thoroughly document the historic context of removed fragments. As these objects represent a primary source of information about the past, we have a responsibility to interpret architectural fragments for the benefit of all.

We therefore adopt the following principles as guidelines for acquiring, documenting, managing, preserving, and using collections of architectural fragments.

  1. In recognition of the preference for in situ preservation of historic structures, architectural fragments should not be removed if such removal will adversely impact the structure's integrity.
  2. When architectural fragments are removed from structures, thorough documentation should accurately and permanently record the context of the fragments within the structure.
  3. Architectural fragments and their associated documentation should be collected, organized, stored, maintained and conserved in accordance with established professional collections management practices of the museum and historic preservation communities.
  4. Institutions should adopt a standardized nomenclature system for cataloging purposes which will allow effective sharing of collection information.
  5. Institutions which hold collections of architectural fragments have an obligation to share information about those objects through research, exhibits, and other educational programs.
  6. Analysis, research, exhibition, interpretation, and other uses of architectural fragments should be planned and conducted so as to maintain the integrity of those objects and their associated documentation.
  7. Architectural fragments should be used in a manner consistent with national and international standards for the stewardship of historic properties."



Architectural Study Collections, CRM, Vol. 16, No. 8, 1993, Cultural Resources, National Park Service, U.S.D.I.

Introduction to Archival Organization and Description:Access to Cultural Heritage, Getty Standards and Digital Resource Management Program, Getty Research Institute, J. Paul Getty Trust


American Architectural Foundation, The Octagon

The Architectural Fragment Collection, also collected during various Octagon restoration periods, contains portions of original beams, nails, boards, and interior and exterior hardware. It numbers approximately 4,500 pieces. It is used in research projects, internships in collection management, and presentations related to restoration and preservation activities.
The Octagon, American Architectural Foundation, 1799 New York Avenue NW, Washington DC 20006, T 202.638.3221, F 202.879.7764, E

Historic Deerfield, Inc.
Box 32, Deerfield, MA 01342-0321T 413.774.5581
F 413.775.7220, William Flynt, Architectural Conservator, Email

Peabody Essex Museum

The architecture collection includes twenty-three historic American structures and a major architectural fragment collection. East India Square , Salem, MA 01970-3783, Tel 978.745.9500, 800.745.4054, Fax 978.744.6776

Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (Historic New England)

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