From the Desk of Gordie Wilson
Castillo de San Marcos/Fort Matanzas National Monuments
St. Augustine, Florida
Voice: 904-829-6506 ex 221
July 8, 1999
TO: Presidio Commission Chair
RE: Santo Domingo Redoubt Reconstruction Location
As you requested, enclosed are relevant excerpts from the
Secretary of Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic
Properties. I have highlighted sections that my comments are
1. Page 166 of the enclosure lists the general standards. They
include reference to the disturbance of archeological
resources. It states that if the resources must be
disturbed, mitigation measures will be undertaken. That is
generally interpreted to mean that disturbance should be
2. Page 167 discusses the potential for historical error and
that reconstruction can rarely be justified and is not
frequently undertaken. The interpretive value of this
project justifies reconstruction in this particular case, in
my opinion. The guideline also states that measures should
be taken to preserve subsurface material. That is generally
interpreted to mean avoidance of construction directly on top
of archeological remains.
3. Page 168 suggests retention of remnants of site features,
which would include retention of undisturbed archeological
resources. Construction of the redoubt directly on top of
the existing archeological resources would be an adverse
4. Page 168 also mentions the interpretive value as a
justification for reconstruction, which is the major benefit
in our case.
5. Page 171 discusses minimizing terrain disturbance and
preserving underground remnants, points Carl Halbirt and I
have emphasized when urging the committee not to recommend
reconstruction directly on top of the underground remains.
6. Page 174 warns against changing the historical spatial
relationship between features, which we are doing to a
certain extent by moving the location westward. Under the
current circumstances, I think if we present the
reconstruction as such and also interpret the location, the
visitor will understand where the original location was, and
why the location has changed. If there was not a street in
the middle of the historic location our choices would be
easier, but that is not the case.
The political reality is the City of St. Augustine is not going
to close or relocate Cordova Street. I see no other reasonable
alternative except to proceed with reconstruction west of
Cordova, as the full committee voted to do this spring.
If I can be of further help, let me know.
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Reconstruction is defined as the act or process ofdepicting,
by means of new construction, the form, features, and detail-
ing ofa non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure,
or object for the purpose ofreplicating its appearance at a spe-
cific period oftime and in its historic location.
Standards for Reconstruction
1. Reconstruction will be used to depict vanished or non-surviving portions of a property when docu-
mentary and physical evidence is available to permit accurate reconstruction with minimal conjecture,
and such reconstruction is essential to the public understanding of the property.
2. Reconstruction of a landscape, building, structure, or object in its historic location will be preceded by
a thorough archeological investigation to identify and evaluate those features and artifacts which are essen-
tial to an accurate reconstruction. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures will be under-
3. Reconstruction will include measures to preserve any remaining historic materials, features, and spatial
4. Reconstruction will be based on the accurate duplication of historic features and elements substan-
tiated by documentary or physical evidence rather than on conjectural designs or the availability of differ-
ent features from other historic properties. A reconstructed property will re-create the appearance of the
non-surviving historic property in materials, design, color, and texture.
5. A reconstruction will be clearly identified as a contemporary re-creation.
6. Designs that were never executed historically will not be constructed.
Guidelines for Reconstructing Historic
Whereas the treatment Restoration provides guidance
on restoring--or re-creating-building features, the
Standards for Reconstruction and Guidelines for
Reconstructing Historic Buildings address those
aspects of treatment necessary to re-create an entire
non-surviving building with new material. Much like
restoration, the goal is to make the building appear as
it did at a particular-and most significant-time in
its history. The difference is, in Reconstruction, there
is far less extant historic material prior to treatment
and, in some cases, nothing visible. Because of the
potential for historical error in the absence of sound
physical evidence, this treatment can be justified only
rarely and, thus, is the least frequently undertaken.
Documentation requirements prior to and following
work are very stringent. Measures should be taken to
preserve extant historic surface and subsurface materi-
al. Finally, the reconstructed building must be clearly
identified as a contemporary re-creation.
In the 1930s reconstruction of the 18th century Governors Palace at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, the archeological
remains of the brick foundation were carefully preserved in situ, and serve as a base for the reconstructed walls.
Photo: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
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Research and Document Historical Significance
Guidance for the treatment Reconstruction begins
with researching and documenting the building's his-
torical significance to ascertain that its re-creation is
essential to the public understanding of the property.
Often, another extant historic building on the site or
in a setting can adequately explain the property,
together with other interpretive aids. Justifying a
reconstruction requires detailed physical and docu-
mentary evidence to minimize or eliminate conjec-
ture and ensure that the reconstruction is as accurate
as possible. Only one period of significance is gener-
ally identified; a building, as it evolved, is rarely re-
created. During this important fact-finding stage, if
research does not provide adequate documentation
for an accurate reconstruction, other interpretive
methods should be considered, such as an explana-
Investigate Archeological Resources
Investigating archeological resources is the next area
of guidance in the treatment Reconstruction. The
goal of physical research is to identify features of the
building and site which are essential to an accurate re-
creation and must be reconstructed, while leaving
those archeological resources that are not essential,
undisturbed. Information that is not relevant to the
project should be preserved in place for future
research. The archeological findings, together with
archival documentation, are then used to replicate the
plan of the building, together with the relationship
and size of rooms, corridors, and other spaces, and
Identify, Protect and Preserve Extant Historic
Closely aligned with archeological research, recom-
mendations are given for identifying, protecting, and
preserving extant features of the historic building. It
is never appropriate to base a Reconstruction upon
conjectural designs or the availability of different fea-
tures from other buildings. Thus, any remaining his-
toric materials and features, such as remnants of a
foundation or chimney and site features such as a
walkway or path, should be retained, when practica-
ble, and incorporated into the reconstruction. The
historic as well as new material should be carefully
documented to guide future research and treatment.
Reconstruct Non-Surviving Building and Site
After the research and documentation phases, guid-
ance is given for Reconstruction work itself. Exterior
and interior features are addressed in general, always
emphasizing the need for an accurate depiction, i.e.,
careful duplication of the appearance of historic inte-
rior paints, and finishes such as stencilling, marbling,
and graining. In the absence of extant historic mate-
rials, the objective in reconstruction is to re-create the
appearance of the historic building for interpretive
purposes. Thus, while the use of traditional materials
and finishes is always preferred, in some instances,
substitute materials may be used if they are able to
convey the same visual appearance.
Where non-visible features of the building are con-
cerned-such as interior structural systems or
mechanical systems-it is expected that contempo-
rary materials and technology will be employed.
Re-creating the building site should be an integral
aspect of project work. The initial archeological
inventory of subsurface and aboveground remains is
used as documentation to reconstruct landscape fea-
tures such as walks and roads, fences, benches, and
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Minimizing disturbance of terrain to reduce the possibility of
destroying archeological resources.
Identifying, retaining, andpreserving extant historic features
of the building and site, such as remnants of a foundation,
chimney, or walkway.
Introducing heavy machinery or equipment into areas where it
may disturb archeological resources.
Beginning reconstruction work without first conducting a
detailed site investigation to physically substantiate the docu-
Basing a reconstruction on conjectural designs or the avail-
ability of different features from other historic buildings.
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(a) and (b). Two photos illustrate the use ofcontemporary construction materials and techniques within the treatment, Reconstruction. Because
Reconstruction is employed to portray a significant earlier time, usuallyfor interpretive purposes, substitute materials may be appropriate ifthey are
able to convey the historic appearance.
Building Exterior 171
The spacious grounds at Middleton Place, near Charleston, South
Carolina, constitute the first landscaped garden in America. The
molded terraces, originally constructed in the 18th century, were largely
reconstructed in the early 20th century based on extant remains and
other documentary evidence. Photo: Middleton Place.
Basing decisions for reconstructing building site features on
the availability of documentary and physical evidence.
Inventorying the building site to determine the existence of
aboveground remains and subsurface archeological materials,
then using this evidence as corroborating documentation for
the reconstruction of related site features. These may include
walks, paths, roads, and parking; trees, shrubs, fields or
herbaceous plant material; terracing, berms, or grading;
lights, fences, or benches; sculpture, statuary, or monuments;
fountains, streams, pools, or lakes.
Re-establishing the historic relationship between the building
or buildings and historic site features, whenever possible.
Reconstructing building site features without first conducting
a detailed investigation to physically substantiate the docu-
Giving the building's site a false appearance by basing the
reconstruction or conjectural designs or the availability of
features from other nearby sites.
Changing the historic spatial relationship between the build-
ing and historic site features, or reconstructing some site
features, but not others, thus creating a false appearance.
174 Building Site