Guidelines For Rehabilitating Historic Buildings: District/Neighborhood
GUIDELINES FOR REHABILITATING HISTORIC BUILDINGS:
U.S. Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Preservation Assistance Division
NOTE: Although the work in these sections is quite often an
important aspect of rehabilitation projects, it is usually NOT part
of the overall process of preserving character-defining features
(maintenance, repair, replacement); rather, such work is assessed
for its potential negative impact on the building's historic
character. For this reason, particular care must be taken not to
obscure, radically change, damage, or destroy character-defining
features in the process of rehabilitation work to meet new use
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 a
District or Neighborhood. 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.
The relationship between historic buildings, and streetscape and
landscape features within a historic district or neighborhood helps
to define the historic character and therefore should always be a
part of the rehabilitation plans.
IDENTIFYING, RETAINING AND PRESERVING
- Identifying, retaining, and preserving buildings, and
streetscape, and landscape features which are important
in defining the overall historic character of the
district or neighborhood. Such features can include
streets, alleys, paving, walkways, street lights, signs,
benches, parks and gardens, and trees.
- Removing or radically changing those features of the
district or neighborhood which are important in defining
the overall historic character so that, as a result, the
character is diminished.
- Retaining the historic relationship between buildings,
and streetscape and landscape features such as a town
square comprised of row houses and stores surrounding a
communal park or open space.
- Destroying streetscape and landscape features by widening
existing streets, changing paving material, or
introducing inappropriately located new streets or
- Removing or relocating historic buildings, or features of
the streetscape and landscape, thus destroying the
historic relationship between buildings, features and
PROTECTING AND MAINTAINING
- Protecting and maintaining the historic masonry, wood,
and architectural metals which comprise building and
streetscape features, through appropriate surface
treatments such as cleaning, rust removal, limited paint
removal, and reapplication of protective coating systems;
and protecting and maintaining landscape features,
including plant material.
- Failing to provide adequate protection of materials on a
cyclical basis so that deterioration of building,
streetscape, and landscape features results.
- Protecting buildings, paving, iron fencing, etc. against
arson and vandalism before rehabilitation work begins by
erecting protective fencing and installing alarm systems
that are keyed into local protection agencies.
- Permitting buildings to remain unprotected so that
windows are broken; and interior features are damaged.
- Stripping features from buildings or the streetscape such
as wood siding, iron fencing, or terra cotta balusters;
or removing or destroying landscape features, including
- Evaluating the overall condition of building, streetscape
and landscape materials to determine whether more than
protection and maintenance are required, that is, if
repairs to features will be necessary.
- Failing to undertake adequate measures to assure the
preservation of building, streetscape, and landscape
- Repairing features of the building, streetscape, or
landscape by reinforcing the historic materials. Repair
will also generally include the replacement in kind -- or
with a compatible substitute material -- of those
extensively deteriorated or missing parts of features
when there are surviving prototypes such as porch
balustrades, paving materials, or streetlight standards.
- Replacing an entire feature of the building, streetscape,
or landscape such as a porch, walkway, or streetlight,
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, streetscape or landscape feature
or that is physically or chemically incompatible.
- Replacing in kind an entire feature of the building,
streetscape, or landscape that is too deteriorated to
repair -- when the overall form and detailing are still
evident -- using the physical evidence to guide the new
work. This could include a storefront, a walkway, or a
garden. If using the same kind of material is not
technically or economically feasible, then a compatible
substitute material may be considered.
- Removing a feature of the building, streetscape, or
landscape that is unrepairable and not replacing it; or
replacing it with a new feature 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
DESIGN FOR MISSING HISTORIC FEATURES
- Designing and constructing a new feature of the building,
streetscape, or landscape when the historic feature is
completely missing, such as row house steps, a porch,
streetlight, or terrace. 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 district or neighborhood.
- Creating a false historical appearance because the
replace feature is based on insufficient historical,
pictorial and physical documentation.
- Introducing a new building, streetscape or landscape
feature that is out of scale or otherwise inappropriate
to the setting's historic character, e.g., replacing
picket fencing with chain link fencing.
ALTERATIONS/ADDITIONS FOR THE NEW USE
- Designing required new parking so that it is as
unobtrusive as possible, i.e., on side streets or at the
rear of buildings. "Shared" parking should also be
planned so that several businesses can utilize one
parking area as opposed to introducing random, multiple
- Placing parking facilities directly adjacent to historic
buildings which cause the removal of historic plantings,
relocation of paths and walkways, or blocking of alleys.
- Designing and constructing new additions to historic
buildings when required by the new use. New work should
be compatible with the historic character of the district
or neighborhood in terms of size, scale, design,
material, color, and texture.
- Introducing new construction into historic districts that
is visually incompatible or that destroys historic
relationships within the district or neighborhood.
- Removing nonsignificant buildings, additions, or
streetscape and landscape features which detract from the
historic character of the district or the neighborhood.
- Removing a historic building, building feature, or
landscape or streetscape feature that is important in
defining the overall historic character of the district
or the neighborhood.
END OF SECTION