The importance of an Historic Structure Report

The Foundation believes that thorough research, documentation and planning is the key to quality restoration, maintenance, and stewardship of any historic resource. It is for this reason that we set aside each year the Jeffris Heartland Fund to provide financial assistance to planning in preparation for major restoration work we can later support with Capital Campaign Challenge Grants.

The standard terminal study for restoration projects is the Historic Structure Report (HSR). We require the completion of an acceptable HSR before considering any invitation to apply for Capital Campaign Challenge Grants.

An HSR should be prepared by an experienced preservation professional consultant, backed up by a team of specialists appropriate to the nature of the historic resource, but commonly including historians, architects; civil, structural, mechanical and electrical engineers; material conservationists; and decorative arts specialists.

If a site does not have a working relationship with a qualified consultant, the selection of a consulting team should be done through issuance of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to consultants lists often maintained by State Historic Preservation Offices and statewide or local preservation organizations.

Jeffris Family Foundation Directors can also recommend sources and provide guidance in the solicitation process. See the bottom of this page for a list of names and contact information.

What is contained in an Historic Structure Report?

The contents of an HSR can vary some by the nature of the site, but for purposes of funding from the Foundation, they will be expected to:

  • Document the Structure’s origins, use, evolution, and alterations over time, provide some insight into the people and historic context with which it is associated, and (re)establish its Period of Significance as an historic resource.
  • Document current conditions of all elements and systems of the building and identify a list of actions necessary to restore the building.
  • Recommend in detail appropriate preservation treatment of each character defining feature and room of the structure.
  • Provide estimates of the cost of restoration based on the intended use and recommended preservation treatments, including recommendations for phasing if appropriate.

Recognize that parts of an HSR have a shelf life in that aging processes will soon outdate some elements of the documentation. Thus, it may be necessary to update periodically some components of the report. Often a site has prepared some elements of an HSR, but other parts remain incomplete. In other cases, all the elements of an HSR have been done, but they have not been integrated in a single document.

An incremental approach to HSR development is acceptable, but we strongly advise compilation of the whole into a cohesive document in preparation for a major restoration. Given the opportunity to review all documentation on file, Jeffris Family Foundation Directors can advise on elements of an HSR that may be missing or outdated.

How much does an Historic Structure Report cost?

The cost of an HSR can vary widely, depending on the age, condition, complexity, size and intended use of the structure. Ease of access, location relative to qualified consultants, the availability of primary and published information sources, and the level of materials and finishes requiring testing can also affect cost. The level of significance of the resource can also have an impact. JFF has rarely seen a quality HSR completed for less than $15,000, and has funded several that cost $100,000 or more.

Properly prepared, compiled and presented, an HSR will guide decisions made by subsequent architects and engineers in the preparation of design development and construction documents, by construction managers and contractors as the work progresses and unanticipated conditions emerge, and by maintenance personnel in caring for the building after restoration. HSRs have also proven valuable in fundraising by demonstrating to all potential funders that the project is well researched and quality restoration in which all can take pride will result.

HSRs are useful, too, in guiding interpretation of the property by providing a thorough but concise source of information on all aspects of the building. And an HSR will provide continuity of understanding and care over time as board members and staff evolve.

For more on the preparation and use of an HSR see the National Park Service’s Preservation Brief 43 and Report Collection Spotlight.

The Jeffris Family Foundation requires the completion of an HSR meeting the standards established by the NPS brief before any consideration of capital funding. We do assist in funding such studies via the Jeffris Heartland Fund.

Foundation Directors

Thomas M. Jeffris
Phone: (608) 757-1039

Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota
Royce A. Yeater
Phone: (312) 399-1410

Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana
Nancy Finegood
Phone: (517) 980-2992

Administrative Contact
Peggy Sheridan, Administrative Assistant
Jeffris Family Foundation
P.O. Box 1160
Janesville, Wisconsin 53547-1160
Phone: (608) 757-1039
Fax: (608) 757-2352