The initial version of the courses was offered as a 2-day workshop at the 2003 Association for Preservation Technology International Conference in Portland, Maine. In June 2004, the courses were expanded and offered in Natchitoches, LA as part of the NCPTT’s first Summer Institute. The NCPTT held additional workshops as part of the Summer Institute in 2005 and 2006. All 4 modules were offered over 2 weeks as Engineering for Older and Historic Buildings. The course combined lectures, laboratory exercises, case studies and field work. The course concluded with student presentations of proposed intervention
strategies that aimed to meet both preservation and engineering needs.
The primary field sites were the circa 1800 Yucca and Africa Houses, located at Melrose Plantation in northwest Louisiana. The classes also visited many of the historic buildings at Cane River Creole National Historical Park. These nationally significant buildings provided a living laboratory where students examined complex historic fabric including hand hewn
and sawn timber, soft, low-fired brick, lime mortar and bousillage — a traditional clay and Spanish moss building material. These materials were of advanced age, with layers of interventions and multiple deterioration mechanisms at work.
Since the inception of Engineering for Older and Historic Buildings, partners have included the Architectural Engineering Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Historic Resources Committee of the American Institute of Architects. Both organizations provide continuing education credits to participants. Additional partners included the
Association for Preservation Technology International, the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches, Cane River Creole National Historical Park, Cane River National Heritage Area and Northwestern State University.
After offering the workshop in Natchitoches for 3 years, the Center is now investigating expanding the program nationally. The NCPTT is focusing on developing the course materials into a training manual that will be available through its website (https://www.ncptt.nps.gov). This will allow the NCPTT to convey the information to a larger audience and allow instructors to incorporate this information into their classes or workshops. This will ultimately serve to preserve and protect more of the nation’s historic resources.