The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and its accompanying programs of the Federal Government of the United States have sponsored and preserved documentation (scale drawings, large format photographs and histories) of some 28,000 historical structures throughout North America. What has been the relevance of the documentation produced over eight decades under the HABS program in Puerto Rico? What buildings on the island have been the object of attention? Who was in charge of the production of their drawings and what were their motivations?
From the beginning of the program until today, most HABS/HAER documentation is produced during the summer with undergraduate and graduate students, all under the supervision of a professional. All documentation of a historical building is produced and sent to the Library of Congress in order to preserve the material and make it accessible to the public.
In 1935, the Historic American Buildings Survey began to document historical structures in Puerto Rico. For several decades, different entities have been interested in continuing the work of recording the legacy built, including the National Park Service, the Puerto Rico Architects Association and the School of Architecture of the Polytechnic University. You can identify instances and specific themes representative of the conservationist ideology that encouraged each of these initiatives at the time. Almost 100 historical structures have been drawn by different individuals over time, supported by institutions interested in preserving evidence of the Island’s architectural legacy, but there is still work to be done.
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