The who shall inherit the what?

The readings this week seemed to all touch on ideas of inheritance. Whether by individuals inhabiting newly renovated buildings (Brainard) or researches attempting to engage with the history of a place (Holdsworth) or even assertions about what is and can be (Groth and Bressi), they are all a product of what it is we encounter in our urban environments. For me, I wonder what it means to engage with a place from different viewpoints. How do we understand a place if its history is masked, its origins obfuscated by amendment, adjustment, addition, subtraction? It seems somewhat futile to try to understand a place with this in mind, so how can we ever know? Is historical research even relevant, or should we only rely on anecdote a "what you see is what you get" mentality?