If you are interested in researching historic architecture in Indiana, the county architectural surveys are a great resource. Known formally as the “Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory,” the more common name of the survey is the County Interim Report, indicating the report is not a final document. The Interim Reports document historic districts or individual properties over 40 years old that maintain some historic character (or integrity).
The Interim Report is published as a book for each county (the exception to this is certain towns in Indiana, including Indianapolis, South Bend, and Bloomington). The report includes a brief history of the county and a description of architectural styles found within that county. Then, the report is subdivided by township and lists every single resource surveyed at that time. Each listing will include the address, a unique name for the property (if applicable), the architectural style, architect (if known), and approximate date. Word of advice: you should always double check the date and any information listed for the property with other sources. The large scale of the survey did not permit extensive research into each property.
The Interim Report also rates the quality of the property, ranging from Outstanding, Notable, Contributing, or Non-Contributing. Outstanding properties are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, while Notable properties may be eligible with additional research. When historic districts are surveyed, the contributing label typically identifies a property that would not be important without the entire district. Non-contributing properties are not identified as historic in any capacity.
An example page from the Rush County Interim Report
The earliest Interim Report dates from 1980. Although the process for surveying is currently changing, a handful of counties are surveyed every summer. The Interim Report can be a great resource in identifying other historic resources within your community. The Interim Report is commonly used for historic preservation compliance requirements, but historians everywhere find the survey useful. Looking to find all the historic schools in your county? Consult the interim report. Hoping to find a specific architectural style or compare your property to others? Consult the interim report. Wondering if an architect designed any structures in the county? Consult the interim report. The older reports, although somewhat outdated, may be useful in identifying properties that have been demolished.
Decatur County’s Interim Report was published in 1999, one of the more recent reports. Unfortunately, it is not available online yet. Many of the out of print interim reports have been digitized and made available online through IUPUI. Print copies can be purchased by contacting Indiana Landmarks, while many libraries house copies of these documents. Luckily, the Greensburg-Decatur County Public Library has a copy of the 1999 survey for Decatur County.
The images show the cover and an example page from Rush County. As you can see, the survey page includes a nice variety of imagery and text.
Post written by Raina Regan.
Raina is an architectural historian employed by the Indiana National Guard. Her work encompasses statewide cultural resources projects with National Register eligible or listed structures. Raina has a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Visual Culture from Michigan State University and a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from Ball State University.