MHT Releases Interim Standards & Guidelines for Architectural and Historical Investigations in Maryland

By Heather Barrett, Administrator of Research & Survey

In mid-November 2019, MHT released an updated version of its Standards and Guidelines for Architectural and Historical Investigations in Maryland. This interim document addresses and clarifies existing policies and procedures for documenting historic resources in Maryland and contains several notable changes in requirements for consultants, preservation planners, state and federal agencies who conduct work in Maryland, and anyone preparing Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties (MIHP) forms, Determination of Eligibility forms (DOEs), or National Register nominations. 

New cover of the Standards and Guidelines for Architectural and Historical Investigations in Maryland.

This version is meant as an interim update until MHT’s web-based MIHP/DOE form is released in 2021. Many exciting changes are afoot, which will necessitate substantial revisions to the Standards & Guidelines at that time, including: an electronic review and submission process; a combined MIHP/DOE form; and the inclusion of new fields on the inventory form, such as architectural style/influences, construction date, and materials. The new system will greatly enhance the ability to conduct more detailed searches in Medusa, our online cultural resource information system, and will facilitate comparative analyses of buildings across Maryland, for the benefit of scholars, researchers, and consultants. 

In the meantime, we would like to highlight the significant changes in the 2019 version of the Standards & Guidelines. Overall, anyone producing inventory or nomination forms should pay particular attention to Chapters 4, 5, and 8. The most notable change is to the photo requirement. All grant-funded and National Register projects still require printed 5×7 black-and-white photographs or, now, color  photographs. All other submittals, including for compliance purposes and owner-produced or county-produced forms, may now elect to use either printed photographs or digital photographs embedded in continuation sheets (see Chapter 4, pages 34-35, and Appendix A). The preparer may submit up to 20 images in print form or on continuation sheets and, if providing more than 20 images, then include the surplus photos as digital files only. The inclusion of all image files in TIFF format on an archival CD is still required for all projects. MHT will be uploading all images to a dedicated server. 

Measured drawing of the Eightrupp Corn House at Susquehanna State Park.

Another important change is that MHT now requires a contributing and non-contributing list or chart of all resources included within survey or historic district boundaries (see page 26). The preparer may determine the format of this information. For example, if a district has been determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, the preparer may wish to include a greater level of detail, such as the address of the property, resource type, estimated construction date, a brief description of each resource, and status (CON/NC).  This additional information is a significant improvement because it provides an exact account of what is included within the district boundary and recommends a contributing or non-contributing status based on the integrity of each resource. Many early nominations did not include this information, which is critical in determining eligibility for the State and Federal tax credit programs, as well as various grant and loan programs. Although this practice has become common for National Register nominations in recent years, survey districts rarely include this amount of detail. 

Fieldwork at Blandair in Howard County.

The updated version also incorporates a chapter on guidelines for completing National Register nomination forms in Maryland and an updated chart showing statewide survey coverage, the estimated percentage of buildings constructed prior to 1967, and the number of MIHP forms per county (see page 5). Appendices include an example of the new photo continuation sheet; the Standards for Submission of Digital Images to the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties; and a submissions checklist that underscores commonly overlooked procedures required to accession material into the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties. 

We encourage all who are involved in the documentation of Maryland’s historic resources to read the updated Standards & Guidelines for further details. If you have any questions or comments about the content or new policies and procedures, please contact Heather Barrett, Administrator of Research & Survey, at heather.barrett@maryland.gov

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