Structural Investigation of Historic Buildings: ACase Study Guide to Preservation Technology for Buildings, Bridges, Towers and Mills
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More About This Title Structural Investigation of Historic Buildings: ACase Study Guide to Preservation Technology for Buildings, Bridges, Towers and Mills


A toolkit for giving our historic built environment a second life

Conservation of our existing structures has obvious economic and social value. Moreover, historic structures provide an excellent laboratory for studying aspects of structural engineering, materials science, forensic engineering, and building design. Structural Investigation of Historic Buildings: A Case Study Guide to Preservation Technology for Buildings, Bridges, Towers, and Mills provides a practical guide for consulting structural engineers and others on dealing with issues unique to historic structures.

Emphasizing structural evaluation and condition assessment based on sound preservation philosophy, but without burdening the reader with tedious calculations, the book discusses the role of the structural engineer in the evaluation and preservation process and discusses such topics as structural safety, analysis, and conservation. Engaging case studies, drawn from the author's own practice, include:

The Montague Building and Watauga Hall

The Restoration of St. Helena's Church

Market Hall Rehabilitation

Differential Settlement at St. Philip's Moravian Church

James Madison's Montpelier

Relocating the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

The Timber Trusses of Burr, Town, and Haupt

The Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge

A New Covered Bridge for Old Salem

The Tohickon Aqueduct

Each case study features a description of the project and its history, a condition assessment, structural analysis, discussion, recommendations, and a description of the subsequent intervention as executed with drawings and photographs.

Both a foundational text for students anticipating a career in preservation and a guide for seasoned structural engineers, Structural Investigation of Historic Buildings gives preservation-minded professionals the tools they need to ensure that potential candidates for restoration, rehabilitation, or adaptive reuse do not meet the wrecking ball without a second chance.


David C. Fischetti, PE, is a civil engineering graduate of Clemson University. A Registered Professional Engineer in seventeen states, he has thirty-nine years of structural design experience. He is President of DCF Engineering, Inc., located in Cary, North Carolina.




CHAPTER 1 Historic Structures: The Role of the Structural Engineer.

CHAPTER 2 Preservation and Public Safety: Structural Safety of Historic Timber Structures.

CHAPTER 3 Simplifi ed Engineering.

CHAPTER 4 Conservation and the Specialty Contractor.

CHAPTER 5 Historic Timber Structures.

CHAPTER 6 Watauga Hall and the Montague Building.

CHAPTER 7 The Restoration of St. Helena’s Church.

CHAPTER 8 Market Hall Rehabilitation.

CHAPTER 9 Differential Settlement at St. Philip’s Moravian Church at Old Salem.

CHAPTER 10 James Madison’s Montpelier.

CHAPTER 11 Timber, Glulam, and Conservation.

CHAPTER 12 Tabby: Engineering Characteristics of a Vernacular Construction Material.

CHAPTER 13 Relocating the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

CHAPTER 14 Crisis in American Covered Bridges.

CHAPTER 15 The Timber Trusses of Burr, Town, and Haupt.

CHAPTER 16 The Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge.

CHAPTER 17 A New Covered Bridge for Old Salem.

CHAPTER 18 The Tohickon Aqueduct.

CHAPTER 19 The Current State of Historic Preservation ngineering: One Engineer’s Point of View.



"Part memoir, part textbook, David Fischetti has delivered a book that documents his work, the 20th-century preservation movement, and the relationship between engineering, traditional craft practice, and modern building materials science. Whether you're a seasoned preservation professional or engineering student with big dreams, read this book." (Traditional Building Magazine, Oct 2009)

"The book at hand is particularly valuable as a distillation of the author's broad experience across multiple disciplines, most especially in his preservation philosophy and sometimes iconoclastic opinions on code and the complexities of engineering and preservation practice." (Timber Framing, June 2009)