The “Secretary’s Standards”

The Secretary’s Standards are the “gold standard” of preservation.
The Secretary of Interior Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties are commonly used to evaluate the preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction of the country’s architecturally and historically significant sites.  The Standards, which promote responsible preservation practices, articulate 4 specific approaches to the treatment of historic buildings:  preservation, rehabilitation, restoration and reconstruction.

Depending on the approach chosen, the Secretary’s Standards may require:

  • Making every effort to use the building for its original purpose.
  • Not destroying distinctive original features.
  • Recognizing all buildings as products of their own time.
  • Recognizing and respecting changes that have taken place over time.
  • Treating sensitively distinctive stylistic features or example of skilled craftwork.
  • Repairing rather than replacing worn architectural features when possible. When replacement is necessary, new material should match the old in design, composition, and color.
  • Cleaning facades using the gentlest methods possible. Avoid sandblasting and other damaging methods.
  • Protecting and preserving affected archeological resources.
  • Accepting compatible contemporary alterations if they do not destroy significant historical or architectural fabric.
  • Building new additions so they can be removed without harming the underlying structure.

For more information, visit the National Park Service’s “Technical Preservation Services” page.

Need help interpreting the Standards?

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