Overall page navigation start option: INTRODUCTION: What is the Historic Character? STEP ONE: Identify the building's overall visual aspects STEP TWO: Identify the close range visual aspects STEP THREE: Identify the interior visual aspects Introduction to Identify the Historic Character QUIZ
A distance learning site by Technical Preservation Services, National Park Service
SHAPE: Look at the Building from a Distance
graphic Number 1, non-navigational This is an image of a historic building with a distinctive, horizontal box-like shape with the middle portion projecting up an extra story. Photo: NPS files.
Look at the Building's Shape
Look at the Building's Roof + Roof Features
Look at the Building's Openings
Look at the Building's Projections + Recesses
Look at the Building's Exterior Materials
Look at the Building's Trim + Secondary Features
Look at the Building's Site
Visual Character Check List checklist
Walk Through Historic Buildings

ASK
Is the shape of this historic building an important aspect of the overall visual character? Yes.

LOOK + IDENTIFY
You can see that it has a distinctive horizontal box-like shape. Even more unusual, the middle portion of the box projects up an extra story, with a castle-like tower behind it. The windows, brickwork, and large, arched entranceway all reinforce the shape.

WHAT IF THE SHAPE IS ALTERED?
If the shape, or other visual aspects of this exterior were to be altered, the character would be changed.


WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Preserve the character-defining shape in the process of rehabilitating a historic building for a continuing or new use!


This is an image of a modest commercial building with a  three-part shape, consising of a large center bay with two flanking narrow bays and an upward projecting parapet. Photo: NPS files.

HOW ABOUT THIS ONE?


This commercial building isn't large or unusual.
But does it have a distinctive shape?

—Yes!

Its simple three-part shape is crucial to the exterior character. Any changes to the shape of the building, or the center--or side--portion of the storefront, would drastically affect the visual character.

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Identifying Visual Character