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Contents, “Guide for Preparation and Use of Historic Structure Reports” developed by ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) Task Group Number E06.24.04, draft.

      1. Executive Summary
      2. Introduction
      3. Methodology
      4. History
      5. Site and Landscape Evaluation
      6. Archeological Evaluation
      7. Architectural Evaluation
      8. Structural Evaluation
      9. Building Systems Evaluation
      10. Construction Chronology
      11. Materials Conservation Analysis
      12. Identification of Significant Features
      13. Recommendations
      14. Endnotes (or Footnotes)
      15. Bibliography and Reference Sources
      16. Appendices
        1. Figures
        2. Drawings
        3. Photographs
        4. Copies of Reference Documents

Hawkins, Dominque M., AIA. Historic Structure Reports and Preservation Plans [download PDFformat file], New Jersey Historic Preservation Office, p. 3-6.

    [Historic Structure Reports]

    "Today, Historic Structure Reports [HSRs] are multi-disciplinary planning documents, often created by a team of professionals to evaluate many aspects of a property simultaneously. It is a thorough record of existing historical research and resources as well as existing con ditions. The HSR provides a forum to identify historic fabric and the means to minimize its loss, damage, or any adverse effect upon it. From an under Historic Structure Report standing of the historic fabric, long term alternative actions and their impact on the site as a whole can be explored in the planning phase. Similar to past HSR formats, the document is limited to information that bears directly on the historic character and fabric of a resource [building, structure and/or site]. The project team evaluates and documents:

    • History of the construction, alterations, owners, and significant events at the property based on physical and documentary evidence
    • Current conditions
    • Remaining significant and character defining features
    • Evaluation of current and proposed program needs in relation to the historic fabric
    • Recommended overall treatment approach [preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, or reconstruction]
    • Recommended treatments for individual features or areas
    • Prioritization of recommendations and cost estimates
    • Identification of future areas of research or documentation

    Because of extensive research and comprehensive existing conditions information, the HSR is a valuable reference tool for the site. This information establishes a framework for owners and stewards to consider physical alterations to the property, with the understanding of how the proposed work will impact the historic fabric and character."

    "Utilizing an HSR or Preservation Plan

    Once an HSR or Preservation Plan has been prepared, it should be utilized by owners or stewards to implement a plan of action. Although an HSR is primarily a documentary resource and not project or issue specific, it is extremely useful for a number of purposes. HSRs can:

    1. Broaden the understanding and appreciation of a property
    2. Enable development of a use plan that maximizes respect for historic fabric in conjunction with program needs
    3. Inform curatorial and
      interpretive issues
    4. Develop Interpretive Plans and inform other planning documents
    5. Assist in the development of a Maintenance Plan [if not included in the HSR]
    6. Assess the impacts of proposed alterations
    7. Prepare construction documents for a capital project
    8. Provide information in response to management or development issues
    9. Provide information for fundraising efforts to support future studies or construction projects
    10. Guide future research

    Since a Preservation Plan is usually undertaken in anticipation of a specific project, its recommendations tend to lead directly to construction documents and a capital improvement project. Therefore, the future research value tends to be more limited.

    HSRs and Preservation Plans are not static documents. They should be supplemented, as more information becomes avail- able. This information can be gathered during or after the construction work, additional physical analysis or historic documentation. As such, it may be appropriate for owners and stewards to request an electronic copy [diskette] of the final document or bind it in a manner which allows new information to be easily integrated, [e.g. three-ring binder].

National Park Service Policy #28: Cultural Resource Management Guideline, Chapter 8: Management of Historic and Prehistoric Structures, B. Research, 2. Documentation and Investigation, a. Historic Structure Report

    a. Historic Structure Report

    The historic structure report (HSR) is the primary guide to treatment and use of a historic structure and may also be used in managing a prehistoric structure. A separate HSR should be prepared for every major structure managed as a cultural resource. Groups of similar structures or ensembles of small, simple structures may be addressed in a single report. In no case should restoration, reconstruction, or extensive rehabilitation of any structure be undertaken without an approved HSR, Parts 1 and 2.

    An HSR includes the following:

    Management Summary. This is a concise account of research done to produce the HSR, major research findings, major issues identified in the task directive, and recommendations for treatment and use. Administrative data on the structure and related studies are included.

    Part 1, Developmental History, is a scholarly report documenting the evolution of a historic structure, its current condition, and the causes of its deterioration. It is based on documentary research and physical examination. The scope of documentary research may extend beyond the physical development of the structure if needed to clarify the significance of the resource or to refine contextual associations; however, major historical investigation of contextual themes or background information should be conducted as part of a historic resource study. If the Inventory and Condition Assessment Program (ICAP) is used to describe the nature and condition of features, resultant reports (e.g., the historic asset assessment report) should be included in the HSR's appendix.

    Part 2, Treatment and Use, presents and evaluates alternative uses and treatments for a historic structure. Emphasis is on preserving extant historic material and resolving conflicts that might result from a structure's "ultimate treatment." Part 2 concludes by recommending a treatment and use responding to objectives identified by park management. In most cases, design work does not go beyond schematics.

    Part 3, Record of Treatment, is a compilation of information documenting actual treatment. It includes accounting data, photographs, sketches, and narratives outlining the course of work, conditions encountered, and materials used.

    All aspects of a historic structure and its immediate grounds should be addressed in an HSR. Potential overlaps with other cultural resource types and natural resource issues should be identified, and applicable studies and reports should be called for or referenced. An HSR and analogous reports (e.g., a cultural landscape report) may be combined to address multiple resource types at a single property or area.

    Parts 1 and 2 of an HSR should be prepared jointly as part of a comprehensive effort soon after acquisition of a structure or recognition of its status as a cultural resource. Given funding and time constraints, however, an HSR may be prepared incrementally. Incremental research and design should also be considered when a complete HSR does not exist or an existing HSR does not adequately address aspects of a proposed treatment such as replication of missing features, removal of significant features or large amounts of historic material, or introduction of new systems or exterior additions. In no case should a Part 2 be prepared without a Part 1.

    The scope, level of investigation, and extent of schematic development are outlined in a task directive that is based on the recommendations of a historical architect in consultation with other cultural resource specialists and the park manager. Major factors considered in developing the task directive include the structure's significance, condition, and intended use. The task directive should also address participation of other cultural resource specialists and publication of the document.

    The following standards apply:

    A historic structure report (HSR) is prepared to minimize loss of character-defining features and materials whenever existing information about the developmental history and condition of the historic structure does not provide an adequate basis upon which to address anticipated management objectives, whenever alternative courses of action for impending treatment and use could have adverse effects, or to record treatment.

    Architectural, landscape, and archeological investigations supporting an HSR have the least possible impact on the property studied and employ nondestructive methods to the maximum extent possible; they are prescribed and justified in a task directive that includes a research design and impact analysis.

    b. Graphic Documentation

    Documentation of historic structures is undertaken to record preservation treatment, provide a baseline for monitoring, aid in interpretation, support scholarly research, and serve as an objective reference for repair or reconstruction in the event of damage or loss. The scope, method, and level of documentation of a structure should be proportional to its significance as a cultural resource, the character of its features, the degree to which it is endangered, and the ways in which the documentation is most likely to be used.

    All documentation is done in conformance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Architectural and Engineering Documentation. Where recording is done to establish a baseline for planning or before demolition, the following documentation levels are recommended: Level I for Category Ia structures, Level II for Category Ib structures, Level III for Category II structures, and Level IV for Category III structures.

    New materials and replacement features introduced should be recorded in place with photographs or drawings that clearly indicate their extent. Physical evidence of the developmental history of a structure should be recorded before being removed or covered during treatment. Copies of task directives, daily reports, and change orders should also be retained in park files.

    c. Archival Considerations

    Although comprehensive, in-depth research is an ideal foundation for preservation work, most information about historic structures is collected on a piecemeal basis throughout the resource management process. Primary information sources include contextual studies, records of treatment, records of structural monitoring, photographic and graphic documentation, and reports of material analysis and archival research. To maximize the benefit of this work and minimize potential data loss, all field notes, primary documents, original maps, drawings, photographs, material samples, and oral histories generated during resource management are organized and preserved as archival material or museum objects in consultation with the park or support office curator.


i. Cover Page

ii. Table of Contents

iii. Executive Summary.

This introductory text provides a concise account of (a) research done to produce the HSR, (b) major research findings, (c) major issues identified in the task directive, and (d) recommenda-tions for treatment or use. Deviations from general planning documents should be identified here and discussed more fully in the body of the report.

iv. Administrative Data.

This section contains (a) names, numbers, and locational data used to refer to the historic structure, (b) the proposed treatment of the structure including the source document, (c) related studies, (d) cultural resource data including date listed in the National Register, period of significance, and context of significance, and (e) recommendations for documentation, cataloging, and storage of materials generated by the HSR.


A. Historical Background and Context.

This section briefly describes the people and events associated with the structure. The section should establish a recommended period or periods of significance if this has not been done in the National Register nomination or historic resource study (HRS).

B. Chronology of Development and Use.

Physical construction, modification, and use of the struc-ture is summarized in this section. The text should be based on historical documentation with corroboration from first-hand observation and materials analysis.

C. Physical Description.

This section contains a systematic accounting of all features, materials, and spaces according to age, significance, and condition. Copies of computer-generated inspection reports should be included in the appendix but summarized in the body of the chapter. The text should also discuss causes of deterioration and structural adequacy.


A. Ultimate Treatment and Use.

This narrative discusses and analyzes the ultimate treatment and use of the structure as defined in park planning documents. If they have not been defined, this section may recommend an ultimate treatment and use. If analysis of the structure suggests that a planned treatment or use would adversely affect it, the text may present an alternative approach.

B. Requirements for Treatment.

In concise terms, this text outlines applicable laws, regula-tions, and functional requirements. Specific attention should be given to issues of human safety, fire protection, energy conservation, abatement of hazardous materials, and handicapped accessibility.

C. Alternatives for Treatment.

This section presents and evaluates alternative approaches to realization of the ultimate treatment. Alternatives are presented in both text and graphic form. Analysis addresses the adequacy of each solution in terms of impact on historic materials, effect on historic character, compliance with NPS policy, and other management objectives. The section concludes with elaboration on the recommended course of action and specific recommendations for preservation treatments.


A. Completion Report.

This section summarizes (a) the intent of the work, (b) the way in which the work was approached and accomplished, (c) the time required to do the work, and (d) the cost of the work. It also describes any information about the history of the structure based on physical evidence discovered during construction.

B. Technical Data.

This portion of the report contains copies of field reports, material data sheets, field notes, correspondence, accounting spread sheets, and contract summaries.


    1. Bibliography
    2. Drawings
    3. Photographs
    4. Materials Analysis

Historic Structures Report - Outline, Historic Preservation, Office of Facilities Management, Department of Veterans Affairs.

1. Overview

One of the basic planning documents used in the management of historic structures is the Historic Structures Report (HSR). An HSR is prepared whenever there is to be a major intervention into historic structures or where activities are programmed that affect the qualities and characteristics that make properties eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. HSRs are intended to be cost efficient, well defined, and professionally solid "action" documents, spanning the gap between planning and implementation.

2. Three Sections

An HSR should consist of three elements:

a. an administrative data section, which includes:

  1. institutional references such as the name of the structure, its management category, and structure number;
  2. and the relationship between the HSR and other planning documents such as the identification of the planning document in which the ultimate preservation treatment of the structure was established;
  3. alternative ways studied of meeting management objectives; and,
  4. other issues such as storage of archival material collected during preparation of the report and justification for the proposed treatment or recommendations for changes in the proposed treatment.

b. a physical history and analysis section, addressing such topics as:

  1. the significance of the structure and its setting;
  2. the appearance, occupation, and use of the structure and its setting;
  3. a description and record of existing conditions;
  4. an evaluation of the impact of the proposed use on the integrity of the structure;
  5. and engineering report on safety and lead-bearing limits;
  6. identification and analysis of significant factors affecting preservation of the structure;
  7. recommended steps for preservation treatment, the basis for such recommendations, and preliminary design drawings;
  8. the impact of the proposed action on the structure with recommendations to avoid or mitigate potential adverse effects;
  9. estimates of the cost to carry out recommendations; and,
  10. recommendations for further study.

c. an appendix, containing:

  1. information about materials analysis;
  2. assessment of future research potential;
  3. and annotated bibliography;
  4. technical data and research notes; and,
  5. information about historic furnishings uncovered during the study but unrelated to the treatment discussed in the report.

3. Goals:

Depending on the existing information, the significance, the need for additional information, the nature and significance of the affected resources, the condition, and the extent or level of treatment to which the resources may be affected by proposed plans or actions, one of three levels of structure identification may be used: 1) exhaustive, 2) thorough, or 3) limited.

A HSR should be a useful planning document, written for the primary audience, that also discusses program development and program implementation. It should be restricted to information that bears directly on historic fabric and character , used when existing information about physical history and condition of the resource does not provide an adequate basis upon which to address anticipated management issues, alternative courses of action for impending development could have a significant adverse effect on a historic structure., limit the research effort to a specific development issue that can be anticipated for the resource and related to the significance of the resource.

4. Integration of Design Process

The HSR is an integral part of the design process, and is usually done for all projects affecting historic structures, although it is not titled a Historic Structures Report. Often, as built research, results of design analysis, alternatives studied, and other data developed for documentation under Section 106, may be bundled together and considered a HSR. It is important to always have a conventional design analysis/preliminary design /review phase when treatment to a historic structure is funded and imminent. This way, design treatments proposed for historic structures could be far more timely and in synch with more conventional design projects.

Historic Structure Preliminary Design

4. Treatment Options - Predicting Loss and Change

Preservation requires retention of the greatest amount of historic fabric, along with the building’ historic form, features, and detailing as they have evolved over time.

Rehabilitation acknowledges the need to alter or add to a historic property to meet continuing or new uses while retaining the building’s historic character.

Restoration allows for the depiction of a building at a particular time in its history by preserving materials from the period of significance and removing material from other periods.

Reconstruction establishes a limited framework for re-creating a vanished or non-surviving building with new materials, primarily for interpretive purposes.

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