Do you ever hear someone say they're "restoring" a building when they're really rehabilitating or preserving it? It would seem to be a simple difference in labeling, but it's really an important distinction in historic preservation. Why? As seen in Chrisfield, following each approach achieves a very different end "product." To help get it right, here are some suggestions:
1. Become familiar with the four approaches to work—or treatment—and how and why they differ.
In theSecretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties , the National Park Service identifies four approaches to work and provides four separate sets of principles or standards as guides. These brief descriptions characterize the major differences between approaches:
Preservation keeps a building and its site the way it looked historically, with all the respectful changes and alterations that were made to it over time.
Rehabilitation updates a building and its site through alterations and additions while preserving its historic character.
Restoration creates the appearance of a building and its site as it existed during its period of greatest significance while removing evidence of other periods.
Reconstruction re-creates a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure, or object in new materials for interpretive purposes.
2. Become familiar with some general questions you need
First, what is the relative historical significance of the building in the community? Is the building an individual local landmark? Or is it a commercial or residential building that contributes to the significance of the historic district? Rehabilitation is more commonly applied to commercial and residential buildings in historic districts. Preservation, Restoration, and Reconstruction are more often selected for local landmarks that are being interpreted to the public. Reconstruction is rarely recommended.
What is the current condition of historic materials
Very important, what is the proposed use of
the historic building?
What are the mandated code requirements?