First Annual National Park Service Historic Preservation Conference
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Blaine Oliver

Mr. Oliver commented on the following observations:

1. The HSR should become a maintenance and preservation document, not only a development one.

2. If we do not properly maintain our structures we will not preserve them; without maintenance, restoration is a waste.

3. The techniques used for the HSR should be non-destructive; opening any part of a building in search of physical evidence should wait until the working drawing phase of restoration is desired.

4. The HSR should be integral to the HRMP as a pathological analysis.

5. Interpretation - if we are to maintain our structures, must we then drag every American through every building or over every earthwork, for them to appreciate history?

6. The preservation of our buildings is going to require an action commitment on the part of the Federal Government and the National Park Service to Historic Preservation. We are behind some European countries in terms of funding and commitment.

Mr. Oliver then proceeded to show what he believed were some methods of organization and some techniques for the analysis of buildings using a scientific approach (architectural archeology). This includes collection of data and use of modern laboratory techniques for paint and mortar analysis, X-ray, fabric examination, and dendrochronology; organization of data - cards, slides, putting data together and filling in gaps. The result of this scientific approach is faster work, jobs can be run together, focus in one objective more easily, and render greater cost effectiveness.

The main thrust of the discussion period dealt with the need for training and research on techniques and methods of preserving historic structures. Mr. Battle pointed out that there is knowledge about historic preservation, but it has not been transferred; we should make an assessment of what we know and what we don't know. We are desperately in need of basic research and we have to begin now before it is too late. In the meantime, what are we leaving the guys with in the field? We don't have an answer for that; we don't have anything to give them in many instances. We have many practical problems that come into the ground of common sense, but this is where common sense is sometimes misleading, and thus professional judgement is needed.

Since history knowledge is not being shared, we should think about how to better share the knowledge that already exists. There seems to be a general recognition that the creation of skill capability at some level of an area closely convenient to the park - not necessarily in it - is a very desirable end-result; not that you need a craftsman in every park but you need a certain sensitivity of discrimination in the maintenance staff.

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Last Updated: 14-Jul-2009