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Missouri Department of Transportation

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Architectural History

When a transportation project is proposed, MoDOT architectural historians are responsible for surveying and identifying all architectural resources that are located within the project’s area of potential effects (APE).  The APE for a project usually includes the project footprint and immediately adjacent areas in order to assess both direct and indirect project effects.

colonial house

Most of the buildings that are identified during architectural surveys are domestic in nature.  Domestic architectural resources include houses, their associated outbuildings, and features such as fences and gateposts.  Other building types that are commonly encountered include barns, industrial buildings, and commercial buildings.

Buildings—and their associated resources—that are more than 45 years old are photographed and documented, and may involve research into the property’s ownership and history.

After the initial documentation is complete, the architectural historian will consult with the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in order to assess the building’s eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.  If a building is determined to be eligible for the National Register, it is called a “historic property.”  After the building is determined to be a “historic property,” MoDOT must consider the potential effects of proposed projects upon the property.


A project can be determined to have either an “adverse effect” or “no adverse effect” upon a historic property.  An adverse effect is determined to occur when the proposed project would harm a property’s ability to convey its historic significance.  Examples of adverse effects include: demolition; the removal of a resource from its original location; changing the setting of a resource if the setting was determined to contribute to the property’s significance; or the introduction of new elements that could diminish the property’s significant historic features.

If it is determined that a project will have an adverse effect to a historic property, efforts will be made to redesign the project in order to eliminate or minimize its adverse effects.  Examples of such efforts include the relocation of a portion of the project encroaching the property, or the construction of retaining walls that will minimize impacts to the property. 


If it is determined that an adverse effect cannot be avoided, a Memorandum of Agreement is negotiated outlining specific measures that should be taken in order to mitigate the project’s effects upon the resource.  Mitigation measures may include: archival photography; detailed floor plan and site plan drawings, which show the relationship of the building with its associated features; archival documentation of the property’s history; and a detailed written description of the property.

General information on MoDOT’s approach toward historic buildings—as well as information pertaining to particular architectural styles and types—can be found in the brochure Historic Architecture in Missouri.



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