THE SECRETARY OF THE
INTERIOR’S STANDARDS FOR
Introduction to the Guidelines
The Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings were initially developed in 1977 to help property owners, developers and federal managers apply The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation during the project planning stage by providing general design and technical recommendations. Unlike the Standards, the Guidelines are not codified as program requirements.
The Guidelines are general and intended to provide guidance to help in interpreting and applying the Standards to all rehabilitation projects. They are not meant to give case-specific advice. For instance, they cannot tell owners or developers which features in a historic building are important in defining the historic character and must be retained. This case-by-case determination is best accomplished by seeking assistance from qualified historic preservation professionals in the very early stages of project planning.
Like the Standards, the Guidelines pertain to historic buildings of all materials, construction types, sizes and occupancy; and apply to exterior and interior work, as well as new additions and the building’s site and environment. The Guidelines are presented in a Recommended vs. Not Recommended format. Those approaches, treatments and techniques that are consistent with The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation are listed in the Recommended column on the left; those approaches, treatments and techniques which could adversely affect a building’s historic character are listed in the Not Recommended column on the right. To provide clear and consistent guidance for property owners, developers and federal agency managers, the Recommended courses of action are listed in order of historic preservation concerns so that a rehabilitation project may be successfully planned and completed—one that, first, assures the preservation of a building’s important or character-defining architectural materials, features and spaces and, second, makes possible an efficient contemporary use. The guidance that follows begins with the most basic and least invasive approaches that will help the project achieve the desired goal, before considering work that may involve more change and potentially greater impact on the historic character of the building.