Partner Profile: Documenting Elkmont
Today, James Rosenthal is entering each of the dilapidated and rotted-beyond-repair cabins to take photographs, because they are important to document for posterity even if they can’t be physically saved. James is a photographer for the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey (HABS/HAER/HALS), a long name for a Division of the National Park Service that preserves images and history of the nation’s buildings. Every historic structure that the federal government—and therefore the American people—owns must be documented through photographs so we know what resources exist. That documentation is carefully archived in the Library of Congress.
Even though these particular houses won't be preserved, James says he treats them the same way he would any fine example of architecture. That's where the science comes in: it's in the process of documenting and creating a comprehensive photographic document that represents the essence of a home and those who built it, regardless of its grandeur.
Go to page 2: the art of photography.