Architectural Research

Attic space at Appleby (D-130), Dorchester County. Photo by Willie Graham Attic space at Appleby (D-130), Dorchester County. Photo by Willie Graham.

Architectural research and survey serve as the foundation of all preservation activities. The first step in the protection and interpretation of historic and cultural resources is to fully understand the building, object, site, or event. MHT’s Architectural Research Program takes the lead in identifying important resources and developing a detailed record of their physical evolution, history, and significance.

The investigative process is varied and may include archival research, field survey of archaeological sites and historic structures, or analysis of the historic fabric. Projects take place throughout the state, and may serve a wide variety of purposes, including the development of a countywide inventory of historic resources, conducting site-specific research to aid in the preservation and rehabilitation of a significant resource, or collecting research material for a planned museum exhibit. Research and survey projects have documented a diverse array of resources from agricultural or industrial structures to early 20th century neighborhoods to buildings threatened by sea level rise.

Over the last decade, MHT has actively sought funding for documenting underrepresented communities and resources, particularly through the National Park Service’s Underrepresented Community Grant Program. These efforts include the documentation of Civil Rights sites in Baltimore City, the nomination of additional Rosenwald Schools to the National Register of Historic Places under an existing Multiple Property Documentation Form, and the documentation of women’s suffrage sites across the state.

Surveying Maryland's Historic Properties

Indian Spring Farm (HA-342), Harford County. Photo by the Center for Historic           Architecture & Design, University of Delaware Indian Spring Farm (HA-342), Harford County. Photo by the Center for Historic Architecture & Design, University of Delaware.

The basis of most work undertaken at or through the Maryland Historical Trust is survey. Surveys are generally conducted on a comprehensive level to identify all significant resources within a region or study area or related to a study theme. A typical MHT survey project is undertaken in partnership with a county or municipal planning office, a private non-profit sponsor, or with a university, using funds from the MHT Historic Preservation Non-Capital Grant Program. Grant-funded surveys at the Trust include four steps:

  • development of a research design;
  • reconnaissance work to identify all historical resources in a given region;
  • intensive-level documentation of resources;
  • evaluation of the survey data and methodology through a final report.

All data gathered through survey projects in Maryland is collected in the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties and is made available to the public online or by visiting the MHT Library.

See the Recent Architectural Research page for examples of work in process or completed in the last several years.

Surveying Architectural Resources

Information about buildings and other types of standing structures collected during comprehensive survey projects, regulatory compliance, and other research projects must meet certain guidelines and formatting requirements.

» Learn about the requirements for submitting survey data to MHT

For more information on architectural surveys, contact Allison Luthern at or 410-697-9585.

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