<photo> Detail of interior wood feature; Link to National Park Service
Introduction to Standards and Guidelines: Historical Overview
<photo>detail of well maintained historic storefront

Background. In the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 36, Parks, Forests, and Public Property, Chapter I, ("National Park Service, Department of the Interior"), Parts 1 to 99, Revised as of July 1, 1998, p. 329, it states: PART 68--The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. AUTHORITY: National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, (16 U.S.C. 470 et seq.); Section 2124 of the Tax Reform Act of 1976, 90 Stat. 1918; EO 11593, 3 CFR Part 75 (1971); sec. 2 of Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1950 (64 Stat. 1262). Federal Register Source: Volume 60, page 35843, July 12, 1995.

History. The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties are the Secretary's best advice to everyone on how to protect a wide range of historic properties. By separate regulation, the Secretary has required the application of the Standards in certain programs that the Secretary administers through the National Park Service.They apply to all proposed development grant-in-aid projects assisted through the national Historic Preservation Fund, and are intended to be applied to a wide variety of resource types, including buildings, sites, structures, objects, and districts.

The Standards, revised in 1992, were codified as 36 CFR Part 68 in the July 12, 1995 Federal Register (Vol. 60, No. 133). The revision replaces the 1978 and 1983 versions of 36 CFR 68 entitled The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Historic Preservation Projects. It is noted that another regulation, 36 CFR 67, focuses on "certified historic structures" as defined by the IRS Code of 1986. The Standards for Rehabilitation in 36 CFR 67 should always be used when property owners are seeking certification for Federal tax benefits.

How to Use the Standards and Guidelines. The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring and Reconstructing Historic Buildings are intended to provide guidance to historic building owners and building managers, preservation consultants, architects, contractors, and project reviewers prior to treatment. As noted, while the treatment Standards are designed to be applied to all historic resource types included in the National Register of Historic Places--buildings, sites, structures, districts, and objects--the Guidelines apply to specific resource types; in this case, buildings.

The Guidelines have been prepared to assist in applying the Standards to all project work; consequently, they are not meant to give case-specific advice or address exceptions or rare instances. Therefore, it is recommended that the advice of qualified historic preservation professionals be obtained early in the planning stage of the project. Such professionals may include architects, architectural historians, historians, historical engineers, archeologists, and others who have experience in working with historic buildings.

The Guidelines pertain to both exterior and interior work on historic buildings of all sizes, materials, and types. Those approaches to work treatments and techniques that are consistent with The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties are listed in the "Recommended" column on the left; those which are inconsistent with the Standards are listed in the "Not Recommended" column on the right.

One section of this web site is devoted to each of the four treatments: Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration, and Reconstruction.

Each section contains one set of Standards and accompanying Guidelines that are to be used throughout the course of a project. The Standards for the first treatment, Preservation, require retention of the greatest amount of historic fabric, along with the building's historic form, features, and detailing as they have evolved over time. The Rehabilitation Standards acknowledge the need to alter or add to a historic building to meet continuing or new uses while retaining the building's historic character. The Restoration Standards allow for the depiction of a building at a particular time in its history by preserving materials from the period of significance and removing materials from other periods. The Reconstruction Standards establish a limited framework for re-creating a vanished or non-surviving building with new materials, primarily for interpretive purposes.

The Guidelines are preceded by a brief historical overview of the primary historic building materials (masonry, wood, and architectural metals) and their diverse uses over time. Next, building features comprised of these materials are discussed, beginning with the exterior, then moving to the interior. Special requirements or work that must be done to meet accessibility requirements, health and safety code requirements, or retrofitting to improve energy efficiency are also addressed here. Although usually not part of the overall process of protecting historic buildings, this work must also be assessed for its potential impact on a historic building.


Choosing Treatment

Using the Standards + Guidelines

-Historical Overview-

Exterior Materials
Architectural Metals

Exterior Features
Entrances + Porches

Interior Features
Structural System Spaces/Features/Finishes
Mechanical Systems



Special Requirements
Energy Efficiency
Health + Safety
New Additions




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