Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties

Choosing an appropriate treatment for a historic building or landscape is critical to the success of the project.  The Secretary of the Interior has four approved methods to deal with historic properties.  Each preservation project may incorporate elements from each of these methods (example: When Rehabilitating a property the design team may choose to restore all the finishes in a particular room) but one method must be the overarching direction of the project.  Many people incorrectly use these terms interchangeably but after reading this post you’ll be one of the few how know the difference.

·      Preservation focuses on the maintenance and repair of existing historic materials and retention of a property’s form as it has evolved over time.

·      Rehabilitation acknowledges the need to alter or add to a historic property to meet continuing or changing uses while retaining the property’s historic character.  (Adaptive ReUse falls into this category)

·      Restoration depicts a property at a particular period of time in its history, while removing evidence of other periods.

·      Reconstruction re-creates vanished or non-surviving portions of a property for interpretive purposes.” –

The Standards are interpreted by the Secretary of the Interior and take economical and technical feasibility of the restorations into consideration. Historic buildings of all periods, styles, types, materials, and sizes can be evaluated. Additionally, the standards encompass related landscape features, building site and environment, adjacent construction, and new construction related to the building.