The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for establishing standards for all national preservation programs under Departmental authority and for advising federal agencies on the preservation of historic properties listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Standards for Rehabilitation, a section of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation, address the most prevalent preservation treatment of today: rehabilitation activities. Rehabilitation is defined as “the process of returning a property to a state of utility, through repair or alteration, which makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portions and features of the property which are significant to its historic, architectural, and cultural values.”
The Standards that follow were originally published in 1977 and were revised in 1990 as part of Department of the Interior regulations (36 CFR Part 67, Historic Preservation Certifications). They pertain to historic buildings of all materials, sizes, construction types, and occupancy, and they encompass both the exterior and interior of historic buildings. The Standards also apply to related landscape features and the building’s site and environment as well as attached, adjacent, or related new construction.
The Standards are to be applied to specific rehabilitation projects in a reasonable manner, taking into consideration economic and technical feasibility. In brief, the Standards cover the following ten points:
Certain treatments, if improperly applied, or certain materials by their physical properties, may cause physical deterioration of historic buildings. Inappropriate physical treatments include, but are not limited to: improper repointing techniques; improper exterior masonry cleaning methods; and improper introduction of insulation where damage to historic fabric would result. In almost all situations, use of these materials and treatments will result in denial of certification for tax credit purposes. In addition, every effort should be made to ensure that new materials and workmanship are compatible with the materials and workmanship of the historic property.
The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties have been expanded and interpreted to cover a wide variety of preservation situations and issues. Specifically, the Standards cover acquisition, protection, stabilization, preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction. When researching these Standards or requesting copies, it is important to know which subset of the Standards apply to your situation.
For more information, or to receive a copy of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation Projects, contact the DHPA or write to: National Park Service, Heritage Preservation Services, 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20240.