HDC and Historic Structure Reports

Whether you call them historic structure reports, feasibility studies, condition assessments, or renovation master plans, they all include the same basic elements: assessment of existing conditions and deficiencies, phased work recommendations, and cost estimates. Back in 1992, we still went to the library to read the Commerce Business Daily in the reference section to find listings of federal projects for which we might be qualified. When we saw one from the Wayne National Forest titled “Architectural Evaluation of the Walter Ring House,” we borrowed a book on how to write a proposal and submitted for this project. Much to our surprise, we were selected! Project Manager Ann Cramer told us 30 years later that she was also surprised—at how young we looked! But it all worked out and for the next 15 years, HDC ended up inventorying and assessing all the buildings that the Wayne National Forest acquired when enlarging its land holdings.

  Left: Walter Ring House.  Right: One of HDC’s assessment notes.HDC also assessed a lot of buildings for Naval Facilities Engineering Command, usually when a historic building was placed on the demolition list and the Navy had to examine all possible other options. For these projects, HDC typically considered No Action, Demolition, Mothballing, Renovation for Stabilization and Renovation for Occupancy. The Navy called these “Case Alternative Reports,” although the last one we did the project manager wanted to call it an “Economic Analysis Report.”
    Left: Building 25 at Naval Station Great Lakes, a former dormitory, taken from Building 28, an identical building across the street. Right: Building 76, the former Red Cross Building at Naval Station Great Lakes. Sadly, these buildings were ultimately demolished.

HDC has also prepared Historic Structure Reports as per the National Park Service Guidelines, including buildings owned by the National Park Service. Two very different examples include the Richmond Hamilton House in New River Gorge National River Park in West Virginia. The Park Service hoped to interpret the house as a 19th century homestead, but our research concluded that the original 19th century house had been replaced by an early 20th century structure on the same stone foundations. At the Charleston Navy Yard in Boston Historical National Park, HDC completed a Historic Structure Report for Building 150, the Chain Forge, which once made 3” diameter anchor chains for the Navy. This large building consisted of the “Power House” at the west end connected to the “Smithery,” which retained historic forge machinery.

  Left: The Richmond-Hamilton House in West Virginia. Right: HAER photograph of the interior of the Chain Forge in Massachusetts.
  Left: The Power House portion of the Chain Forge. Right: The Smithery section.