Whether lost to demolition by neglect or to sprawl and urban redevelopment, historic buildings and landscapes cannot always be saved. The last resort of the preservationist is to capture buildings and sites in photographs and measured architectural drawings, preserving them at least on paper and film. In the 1980s, the Center for Historic Architecture and Design (CHAD) began documenting historic structures that were destroyed or threatened by development. Since then, more than 3,000 buildings and landscapes from the industrial complexes of Wilmington to the agricultural buildings and landscapes of southern Delaware and elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic region have been drawn, photographed, and researched by CHAD faculty, staff and students. An estimated three-quarters of these resources are now demolished and lost to neglect, and the CHAD collection stands as the only record of a significant part of the vanished historic architecture landscape of Delaware.
CHAD’s collection includes hundreds of hand-drawn and computer-generated architectural drawings and thousands of large-format black and white photographs of historic structures and landscapes. The materials illustrate both the artistry and practicality of the builders, craftsman, and occupants of these sites. They are also evocative of the changing landscapes and lifestyles of the region. The materials are of high quality since they were created according to the standards of the Historic American Buildings Survey and Historic American Engineering Record, recognized as the world standard for the documentation of historic resources.
In the last few years, CHAD has begun to transform what was an inaccessible repository of documentary materials to a working research collection and archive. It has done this partly because of a growing demand by preservation professionals to use the collection, as well to make the academic community and public aware of this record of their past and to communicate the quality and extent of what has been lost through exhibits, publications, and other means. The CHAD Collection includes:
- Architectural drawings
- Property files
- In-house publications
- Primary and secondary research materials
- Architectural study collection (fragments and building material supplies)
The CHAD Collection is available for use by students, faculty, staff, and the public, by appointment. To inquire about the collection or to make an appointment for use, contact Dr. Rebecca J. Sheppard, Director of the Mid-Atlantic Historic Buildings and Landscapes Survey.