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Investigative Probes

A large part of working with historic structures is uncovering past repairs along with original construction methods and materials. This is typically undertaken utilizing “investigative probes” which are essentially researched locations in a building that are cut out, investigated, and documented thoroughly with material samples retrieved to be analyzed and catalogued.

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The probe locations are then repaired in-kind so that they are not visible. Utilizing a historic restoration contractor who is familiar with historic building methods, materials, and their repairs means that no undue harm will come to the historic fabric of a building. Any repairs will be done correctly and per the Secretary of Interior Standards for Historic Preservation. Investigative probes are often undertaken by historic architects and engineers along with cultural resource management firms in order to put together a more thorough image of a structure's original construction and later alterations and repairs.

The specific investigative probe project pictured here is on the Old Treasury Building in Annapolis, Maryland which dates from 1735, a mere 40 years before the United States was declared as a country. The Old Treasury Building is the oldest public building in Annapolis. It was built by Patrick Creagh for the Commissioners for Emitting Bills of Credit who issued the first paper money of the colony. Before it was named the Treasurer’s Office, the structure was known as the Paper Currency Office during the colonial period and as the Loan Office.
Probes were undertaken in the center of the roof into the attic space which had not been investigated previously and features a barrel vault ceiling. In addition to this, probes were taken into the plaster ceiling of the front porch which was added in the 1770s. One of the windows was also taken apart and put back together so that original hinge details and construction could be examined. 

The Durable Restoration Company undertook these probes so that architects from Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker would be able to complete their investigation and report on this building. Once the architects were finished with their investigation, Durable repaired all probe locations with appropriate materials and methods so that historic fabric was not lost.

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