"Whatever is goode in its kinde ought to be preserv'd in respect for antiquity, as well as our present advantage, for destruction can be profitable to none but such as live by it." – Nicholas Hawksmoor
The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for establishing the Standards for the programs that the Department of the Interior oversees and for advising Federal agencies on the four treatment approaches concerning historic properties listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The four treatment approaches are preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction, and these are each described on our Restoration and Preservation page. These Standards are intended to promote responsible treatment of historical buildings and a philosophical consistency to projects. Furthermore, they are used to determine if a project qualifies as a certified rehabilitation for federal tax benefits, and are also widely used by state and local agencies in the approval of grants, architectural treatments in historic districts, etc.
The most prevalent of these approaches is rehabilitation as this is “the process of returning a property to a state of utility, through repair or alteration, which makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portions and features of the property which are significant to its historic, architectural, and cultural values.” The Standards pertain to historic buildings of all types, sizes, and uses, and encompasses its interior, exterior, and landscaping. It covers repairs, alterations, as well as related new construction. It is expected that these “Standards are to be applied to specific rehabilitation projects in a reasonable manner, taking into consideration economic and technical feasibility.”
The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation are as follows:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Most properties change over time; those changes that have acquired historic significance in their own right shall be retained and preserved.
- Distinctive features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a property shall be preserved.
- 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.
- 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.
- Significant archeological resources affected by a project shall be protected and preserved. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures shall be undertaken.
- 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.
- 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.
Durable Restoration is experienced in the application of this Standard as well as the Standards and Guidelines for the other treatment approaches on projects where this is important for tax and grant ramifications, and/or where the Standard is necessary due to the placement or potential future placement of the building on the National Register of Historic Places.