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Historic Preservation - Technical Procedures


Guidelines For Rehabilitating Historic Buildings: Building Site

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National Park Service, Preservation Assistance Division


General Requirements


Reference Standards

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Guidelines For Rehabilitating Historic Buildings: Building Site


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
Building Site.  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


The relationship between a historic building or buildings and
landscape features within a property's boundaries -- or the
building site -- helps to define the historic character and should
be considered an integral part of overall planning for
rehabilitation project work.


1.   Recommended:

    -    Identifying, retaining, and preserving buildings and
         their features as well as features of the site that are
         important in refining its overall historic character.
         Site features can include driveways, walkways, lighting,
         fencing, signs, benches, fountains, wells, terraces,
         canal systems, plants and trees, berms, and drainage or
         irrigation ditches; and archeological features that are
         important in defining the history of the site.

    Not Recommended:

    -    Removing or radically changing buildings and their
         features or site features which are important in defining
         the overall historic character of the building site so
         that, as a result, the character is diminished.

2.   Recommended:

    -    Retaining the historic relationship between buildings,
         landscape features, and open space.

    Not Recommended:

    -    Removing or relocating historic buildings or landscape
         features, thus destroying the historic relationship
         between buildings, landscape features, and open space.

    -    Removing or relocating historic buildings on a site or in
         a complex of related historic structures -- such as a
         mill complex or farm -- thus diminishing the historic
         character of the site or complex.

    -    Moving buildings onto the site, thus creating a false
         historical appearance.

    -    Lowering the grade level adjacent to a building to permit
         development of a formerly below-grade area such as a
         basement in a manner that would drastically change the
         historic relationship of the building to its site.


1.   Recommended:

    -    Protecting and maintaining buildings and the site by
         providing proper drainage to assure that water does not
         erode foundation walls; drain toward the building; nor
         erode the historic landscape.

    Not Recommended:

    -    Failing to maintain site drainage so that buildings and
         site features are damaged or destroyed; or,
         alternatively, changing the site grading so that water no
         longer drains properly.

2.   Recommended:

    -    Minimizing disturbance of terrain around buildings or
         elsewhere on the site, thus reducing the possibility of
         destroying unknown archeological materials.

    Not Recommended:

    -    Introducing heavy machinery or equipment into areas where
         their presence may disturb archeological materials.

3.   Recommended:

    -    Surveying areas where major terrain alteration is likely
         to impact important archeological sites.

    Not Recommended:

    -    Failing to survey the building site prior to the
         beginning of rehabilitation project work so that, as a
         result, important archeological material is destroyed.

4.   Recommended:

    -    Protecting, e.g., preserving in place known archeological
         material whenever possible.

    Not Recommended:

    -    Leaving known archeological material unprotected and
         subject to vandalism, looting, and destruction by natural
         elements such as erosion.

5.   Recommended:

    -    Planning and carrying out any necessary investigation
         using professional archaeologists and modern
         archeological methods when preservation in place is not

    Not Recommended:

    -    Permitting unqualified project personnel to perform data
         recovery so that improper methodology results in the loss
         of important archeological material.

6.   Recommended:

    -    Protecting the building and other features of the site
         against arson and vandalism before rehabilitation work
         begins, i.e., erecting protective fencing and installing
         alarm systems that are keyed into local protection

    Not Recommended:

    -    Permitting buildings and site features to remain
         unprotected so that plant materials, fencing, walkways,
         archeological features, etc., are damaged or destroyed.

    -    Stripping features from buildings and the site such as
         wood siding, iron fencing, masonry balustrades; or
         removing or destroying landscape features, including
         plant material.

7.   Recommended:

    -    Providing continued protection of masonry, wood, and
         architectural metals which comprise building and site
         features through appropriate surface treatments such as
         cleaning, rust removal, limited paint removal, and re-
         application of protective coating systems; and continued
         protection and maintenance of landscape features,
         including plant material.

    Not Recommended:

    -    Failing to provide adequate protection of materials on a
         cyclical basis so that deterioration of building and site
         features results.

8.   Recommended:

    -    Evaluating the overall condition of materials to
         determine whether more than protection and maintenance
         are required, that is, if repairs to building and site
         features will be necessary.

    Not Recommended:

    -    Failing to undertake adequate measures to assure the
         preservation of building and site features.


1.   Recommended:

    -    Repairing features of buildings and the site by
         reinforcing the historic materials.  Repair will also
         generally include replacement in kind -- with a
         compatible substitute material -- of those extensively
         deteriorated or missing parts of features where there are
         surviving prototypes such as fencing and paving.

    Not Recommended:

    -    Replacing an entire feature of the building or site such
         as a fence, walkway, or driveway when repair of materials
         and limited replacement of deteriorated or missing parts
         are appropriate.

    -    Using a substitute material for the replacement part that
         does not convey the visual appearance of the surviving
         parts of the building or site feature or that is
         physically or chemically incompatible.


1.   Recommended:

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

    Not Recommended:

    -    Removing a feature of the building or site that is
         unrepairable and not replacing it; or replacing it with
         a new feature that does not convey the same visual



1.   Recommended:

    -    Designing and constructing a new feature of a building or
         site when the historic feature is completely missing,
         such as an outbuilding, terrace, or driveway.  It may be
         based on historical, pictorial, and physical
         documentation; or be a new design that is compatible with
         the historic character of the building and site.

    Not Recommended:

    -    Creating a false historical appearance because the
         replaced feature is based on insufficient historical,
         pictorial and physical documentation.

    -    Introducing a new building or site feature that is out of
         scale or otherwise inappropriate.

    -    Introducing a new landscape feature or plant material
         that is visually incompatible with the site or that
         destroys site patterns or vistas.


1.   Recommended:

    -    Designing new onsite parking, loading docks, or ramps
         when required by the new use so that they are as
         unobtrusive as possible and assure the preservation of
         character-defining features of the site.

    Not Recommended:

    -    Placing parking facilities directly adjacent to historic
         buildings where automobiles may cause damage to the
         buildings or landscape features or be intrusive to the
         building site.

2.   Recommended:

    -    Designing new exterior additions to historic buildings or
         adjacent new construction which is compatible with the
         historic character of the site and which preserve the
         historic relationship between a building or buildings,
         landscape features, and open space.

    Not Recommended:

    -    Introducing new construction onto the building site which
         is visually incompatible in terms of size, scale, design,
         materials, color and texture or which destroys historic
         relationships on the site.

3.   Recommended:

    -    Removing nonsignificant buildings, additions, or site
         features which detract from the historic character of the

    Not Recommended:

    -    Removing a historic building in a complex, a building
         feature, or a site feature which is important in defining
         the historic character of the site.

                         END OF SECTION

historic building site, building site, rehabilitating historic building site