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Secretary of Interior Standards

The following are key concepts in the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation:

  • Use the property as it was used historically or find a new use that requires minimal change to distinctive features.
  • Preserve the historic character (continuum of property's history).
  • Do not make changes that falsify the historical development.
  • Repair deteriorated historic materials and features. Replace a severely deteriorated feature, using to the greatest extent possible, matching new materials.
  • New additions and alterations should not destroy historic materials or character. New work should be visually compatible from the old, yet be differentiated from it, e.g., the form, features, and detailing of the historic building should not be replicated in the new work.

    The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation

    The Standards (Department of Interior regulations, 36 CFR 67) pertain to historic buildings of all materials, construction types, sizes, and occupancy and encompass the exterior and the interior, related landscape features and the building's site and environment as well as attached, adjacent, or related new construction. The Standards are to be applied to specific rehabilitation projects in a reasonable manner, taking into consideration economic and technical feasibility.

    1. A property shall be used for its historic purpose or be placed in a new use that requires minimal change to the defining characteristics of the building and its site and environment.

    2. The historic character of a property shall be retained and preserved. The removal of historic materials or alteration of features and spaces that characterize a property shall be avoided.

    3. Each property shall be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Changes that create a false sense of historical development, such as adding conjectural features or architectural elements from other buildings, shall not be undertaken.

    4. Most properties change over time; those changes that have acquired historic significance in their own right shall be retained and preserved.

    5. Distinctive features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a property shall be preserved.

    6. Deteriorated historic features shall be repaired rather than replaced. Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature shall match the old in design, color, texture, and other visual qualities and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features shall be substantiated by documentary, physical, or pictorial evidence.

    7. Chemical or physical treatments, such as sandblasting, that cause damage to historic materials shall not be used. The surface cleaning of structures, if appropriate, shall be undertaken using the gentlest means possible.

    8. Significant archeological resources affected by a project shall be protected and preserved. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures shall be undertaken.

    9. New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment.

    10. New additions and adjacent or related new construction shall be undertaken in such a manner that if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.

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    National Park Service Publications

    The National Park Service published a series of guidelines helpful for maintenance and rehabilitation. Several of these are:

    The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Illustrated Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring, and Reconstructing Historic Buildings. Kay D. Weeks and Anne E. Grimmer. 188 pages. 79 illustrations. GPO stock number: 024-005-01157-9. $17.00 per copy.

    The NPS Preservation Briefs Series

    The NPS Technical Notes Series

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