July 15, 2015

[Preservation Glossary] Today’s Word: Reconstruction

  • By: Jamesha Gibson

The Governor's Palace at Colonial Williamsburg was reconstructed in the 1930s.

In our last few posts we’ve covered restoration and rehabilitation. Today, we round off the three “R’s” of preservation with reconstruction.

The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards’ Four Approaches to the Treatment of Historic Properties defines it as:

Reconstruction, verb

The act or process of depicting, by means of new construction, the form, features, and detailing of a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure, or object for the purpose of replicating its appearance at a specific period of time and in its historic location.

The photo at the top of the post depicts the Governor's Palace at Colonial Williamsburg. The original 18th-century structure burned down in 1781, and the current building was reconstructed in the 1930s using archeological evidence and historical documentation.

Word in Use: “Wednesday was our hump day as we started to move from deconstruction and stabilization to reconstruction work. It is always more fun to be building something than tearing it down piece by piece.” -- Kevin Daniels, "NOLA Volunteer Projects Move from Stabilization to Reconstruction Phase”

The Secretary of the Interior’s Standard advises that the reconstruction approach be used as a treatment when: 1) a modern depiction is needed to interpret and comprehend a property’s historic value (including the re-creation of missing components in a historic district or site); 2) no other property with the same historical value survives; and 3) sufficient historical documentation exists to guarantee a correct reproduction.

Jamesha Gibson is an Editorial Intern at the National Trust. She is passionate about using historic preservation as an avenue for underrepresented communities to share their unique stories. Jamesha also enjoys learning about other cultures through reading, art, language, dancing, and especially cuisine.

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