Guidelines For Rehabilitating Historic Buildings: Entrances And Porches

Procedure code:
National Park Service, Preservation Assistance Division
General Requirements
Reference Standards
Last Modified:


U.S. Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Preservation Assistance Division
Washington, D.C.

An illustrated booklet addressing the Secretary's Standards and the guidelines is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office.

The title is "The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation & Illustrated Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings", ISBN 0-16-035979-1.

Each of the guidelines included in the booklet mentioned above have been separated into individual entries for specific use in HBPP.

This entry represents one of many guidelines included in the booklet and describes recommended and not recommended applications of the Secretary of the Interior's Standards as they relate to Entrances and Porches. For a list of the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation, see 01091-04-S. For general information relating to the purpose, organization and content of the individual guidelines, see 01091-05-S. Both of these entries should be referenced along with the information contained in this document.


Entrances and porches are quite often the focus of historic buildings, particularly when they occur on primary elevations.

Together with their functional and decorative features such as doors, steps, balustrades, pilasters, and entablatures, they can be extremely important in defining the overall historic character of a building. Their retention, protection, and repair should always be carefully considered when planning rehabilitation work.


Recommended: Identifying, retaining, and preserving entrances -- and their functional and decorative features -- that are important in defining the overall historic character of the building such as doors, fanlights, sidelights, pilasters, entablatures, columns, balustrades, and stairs.

Not Recommended: Removing or radically changing entrances and porches which are important in defining the overall historic character of the building so that, as a result, the character is diminished. Stripping entrances and porches of historic material such as wood, iron, cast iron, terra cotta, tile and brick. Removing an entrance or porch because the building has been reoriented to accommodate a new use. Cutting new entrances on a primary elevation. Altering utilitarian or service entrances so they appear to be formal entrances by adding paneled doors, fanlights, and sidelights.


Recommended: Protecting and maintaining the masonry, wood, and architectural metal that comprise entrances and porches through appropriate surface treatments such as cleaning, rust removal, limited paint removal, and re-application of protective coating systems. 

Not Recommended: Failing to provide adequate protection to materials on a cyclical basis so that deterioration of entrances and porches results. Recommended: Evaluating the overall condition of materials to determine whether more than protection and maintenance are required, that is, if repairs to entrance and porch features will be necessary. 

Not Recommended: Failing to undertake adequate measures to assure the preservation of historic entrances and porches.


Recommended: Repairing entrances and porches by reinforcing the historic materials. Repair will also generally include the limited replacement in kind -- or with compatible substitute material -- of those extensively deteriorated or missing parts of repeated features where there are surviving prototypes such as balustrades, cornices, entablatures, columns, sidelights, and stairs.

Not Recommended: Replacing an entire entrance or porch when the repair of materials and limited replacement of parts are appropriate. Using a substitute material for the replacement parts that does not convey the visual appearance of the surviving parts of the entrance and porch or that is physically or chemically incompatible.


Recommended: Replacing in kind an entire entrance or porch that is too deteriorated to repair -- if the form and detailing are still evident -- using the physical evidence to guide the new work. If using the same kind of material is not technically or economically feasible, then a compatible substitute material may be considered. 

Not Recommended: Removing an entrance or porch that is unrepairable and not replacing it; or replacing it with a new entrance or porch that does not convey the same visual appearance. 

Note: The following represents particularly complex technical or design aspects of rehabilitation projects and should only be considered after the preservation concerns listed above have been addressed.


Recommended: Designing and constructing a new entrance or porch if the historic entrance or porch is completely missing. It may be a restoration based on historical, pictorial, and physical documentation; or be a new design that is compatible with the historic character of the building. 

Not Recommended: Creating a false historical appearance because the replaced entrance or porch is based on insufficient historical, pictorial, and physical documentation. Introducing a new entrance or porch that is incompatible in size, scale, material, and color.


Recommended: Designing enclosures for historic porches when required by the new use in a manner that preserves the historic character of the building. This can include using large sheets of glass and recessing the enclosure wall behind existing scrollwork, posts, and balustrades. 

Not Recommended: Enclosing porches in a manner that results in a diminution or loss of historic character such as using solid materials such as wood, stucco, or masonry. Recommended: Designing and installing additional entrances or porches when required for the new use in a manner that preserves the historic character of the building, i.e., limiting such alterations to non-character-defining elevations. Not Recommended: Installing secondary service entrances and porches that are incompatible in size and scale with the historic building or obscure, damage, or destroy character-defining features.



Last Reviewed 2016-06-30