Serving the Community

Research and public service are important components of CHAD's mission. The Center often serves underrepresented historic resources and groups and advocates for them. This includes an emphasis on vernacular architecture in rural, small town, and urban contexts and resources associated with minority groups, and an emphasis on what preservationists call "the recent past" -- buildings and landscapes of the twentieth century.

CHAD emerged from the land grant tradition of the University of Delaware and meets local, state, national, and international historic preservation needs. In the early 1980s, CHAD began to document threatened farm buildings, then continued to respond to a wave of demolition of historic structures in Delaware ranging from historic buildings and landscapes in Wilmington to the conversion of farms by surburban sprawl.

Today, CHAD continues and extends this tradition with a wide variety of projects involving documentation, survey and evaluation, preservation planning, and research that incorporates field, laboratory, and archival data. Student participation and skill development is an important part of project work

Mid-Atlantic Historic Buildings and Landscape Survey (MAHBLS)

MAHBLS is modeled after the Survey of London and Historic American Building Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscape Survey (HABS/HAER/HALS) in the National Park Service. Since 1981 CHAD has documented more than 3,000 properties throughout the Delaware Valley including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia as well as in Delaware. 

This survey and documentation of historic properties and landscapes is a core activity of CHAD; documentation includes cultural resource surveys, National Register nominations, and historic zoning overlay reports--any activity that documents an historic resource through graphic, photographic, and narrative forms. 

In itself a form of preservation, documentation through drawings, photographs, oral history, and archival research is the first step in any planning or research project. Documentation also provides professional training for preservation graduate students while creating a cumulative record of changing architectural and cultural landscapes. Once projects are completed, they are archived in the CHAD Collection.

In order to be affordable to a variety of clients, CHAD combines traditional field measurement and notes with computer applications such as GIS and AutoCAD. CHAD has acquired an excellent reputation for teaching students advanced professional skills.

Read About Example MAHBLS Projects:

Maryland's African-American Architectural Resources

Preservation Planning

CHAD views historic preservation from a planning perspective. This can range from planning the restoration or rehabilitation of a historic building to forecasting the impact of development on an historic landscape. Preservation planning can also be thematically related to a particular issue such as the planning of scenic and historic highways, in which CHAD has been involved. CHAD has been heavily involved in land use and historic preservation planning and design issues since the Delaware State Historic Preservation Plan was written in 1989. As the definition of historic resources has been broadened to include landscape in a broader context, preservation has become more integrated with land use planning.

Ethnographic and Laboratory Research

The Laboratory for Analysis of Cultural Materials documents, examines, and interprets traditional technologies and cultural materials from around the world. There is an emphasis on objects and building materials of stone, ceramics, metals, and glass. Microscopy and other analytical methods are combined with ethnographic fieldwork and with historical research. Documentation is one way of preserving the intangible aspects of material culture. Other goals are to better understand the history and reasons for change, range of fabrication methods, possible functions, and aesthetic intents and values expressed by material culture. Other important missions of the laboratory include research into mechanisms of deterioration, and development and testing of new preservation methods and approaches.

Read About the Lab and Example Research Projects