Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties

What are the National Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties?

The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties are common sense historic preservation principles in non-technical language. They promote historic preservation best practices that will help to protect our nation’s irreplaceable cultural resources.

There are Standards for four distinct, but interrelated, approaches to the treatment of historic properties

  • Preservation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Restoration
  • Reconstruction

Preservation places a high premium on the retention of all historic fabric through conservation, maintenance and repair. It reflects a building’s continuum over time, through successive occupancies, and the respectful changes and alterations that are made.

Rehabilitation, the second treatment, emphasizes the retention and repair of historic materials, but more latitude is provided for replacement because it is assumed the property is more deteriorated prior to work. (Both Preservation and Rehabilitation standards focus attention on the preservation of those materials, features, finishes, spaces, and spatial relationships that, together, give a property its historic character.)

Restoration, the third treatment, focuses on the retention of materials from the most significant time in a property’s history, while permitting the removal of materials from other periods.

Reconstruction, the fourth treatment, establishes limited opportunities to re-create a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure, or object in all new materials.