Guidelines for Preserving Cultural Landscapes

Structures, Furnishings, + Objects

The Approach

Spatial Organization + Land Patterns




Water Features

Structures, Furnishings, + Objects

Special Considerations

Standards for Preservation

Identify, Retain, and Preserve Historic Features and Materials


Identifying, retaining and preserving existing structures, furnishings and objects prior to project work--including gazebos and bridges, playground equipment and drinking fountains, benches, lights, statuary and troughs. Documenting the relationship of these features to each other, their surrounds, and their material compositions.

Evaluating the condition and determining the age of structures, furnishings and objects. For example, utilizing Historic Structure Reports and historic aerial photographs to understand the relationship of barns, windmills, silos and water troughs in a ranch compound or the placement of light standards and benches along park paths.

Retaining the historic relationships between the landscape and its buildings, structures, furnishings and objects.

Not Recommended

Undertaking project work that impacts structures, furnishings, and objects without undertaking an “existing conditions” survey. For example, removing historic roadside

Undertaking work without understanding the significance of structures, furnishings and objects. For example, removing a pergola that defines a courtyard, or fence posts that delineate the limits of a horse farm.

Removing or relocating buildings, structures, furnishings and objects, thus destroying or diminishing the historic relationship between the landscape and these features. For example, taking down an estate’s greenhouse, or removing a stone mile-marker from a historic road.

Stabilize and Protect Deteriorated Historic Features and Materials
as a Preliminary Measure


Stabilizing structures, furnishings and objects by reinforcement or consolidation of their features or materials. For example, reinforcing a roof member of a bandshell or using an epoxy consolidant on a spalling masonry bench.

Protecting the features and materials of structures, furnishings and objects. For example, installing a fence around a deteriorating pumping station or placing a temporary shelter or box over a garden ornament in winter.

Not Recommended

Failing to stabilize threatened structures, furnishings and objects. For example, permitting the effects of severe weather to damage or destroy vulnerable features.

Allowing vulnerable structures, furnishings and objects to remain unprotected. For example, failing to secure doors and windows of an abandoned boathouse, thus permitting vandalism or looting.

Maintain Historic Features and Materials


Maintaining water features by use of non-destructive methods and daily, seasonal, and cyclical tasks. For example, cleaning leaf litter or mineral deposits from drainage inlets or outlets.

Maintaining a water feature’s mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems to insure appropriate depth of water or direction of flow. For example, routinely greasing and lubricating gate mechanisms in a canal lock.

Not Recommended

Failing to undertake preventive maintenance for structures, furnishings and objects resulting in their damage or loss. For example, failing to remove rust from an iron boot scraper which leads to its deterioration.

Utilizing maintenance practices and materials that are harsh, abrasive, or unproven. For example, using grit blasting on wood, brick, or soft stone, or using harsh chemicals on masonry or metals.

Repair Historic Materials and Features


Repairing features and materials of structures, furnishings and objects by reinforcing historic materials. For example, returning the mechanism of a windmill to good working order or straightening bent wrought iron fencing.

Not Recommended

Replacing or destroying a feature of structures, furnishings or objects when repair is possible. For example, replacing a pavilion’s tile roof with asphalt shingles or removing a broken historic light fixture rather than rewiring it.

Limited Replacement In Kind of Extensively Deteriorated Portions
of Historic Features


Replacing in-kind a feature of a building, structure, furnishing or object when it is too deteriorated to repair. New materials should match the old in composition, design, color and texture. For example, replacing broken wooden fence or bench slats, clapboards or shingles, window parts, or deck timbers in-kind.

Not Recommended

Removing or replacing features of buildings, structures, furnishings or objects with new material when historic materials are available. For example, demolishing an ice house rather than re-roofing it, or failing to save and reattach the original portion of a stone statue, using a concrete replacement instead.

Adding “period”-looking buildings, structures, furnishings and objects.

Many of the stones from the Island Bridge along Boston’s Riverway had fallen into the Muddy River below. As part of the preservation work, these stones were retrieved from the water and reused, in addition to several new stones that were cut to order to replace in-kind those that were lost. (NPS, 1988, 1994)

[top] Council rings are simple stone benches with fire pits in the center that resemble the kivas of the Pueblo Indians in the American Southwest. Landscape architect Jens Jensen typically placed council rings along a woodland edge--often where they are prone to successional overgrowth. By employing cyclical and seasonal clearing operations, the area around and within the council ring at the Clearing in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin, has been kept free of perennial weeds, and the stone masonry remains in excellent condition. (NPS, 1993)