Introduction

The Secretary of the Interior is responsible under the National Historic Preservation Act (PDF, 134KB) for establishing standards for, and providing advice and guidance on, the preservation and protection of historic resources. The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties are intended to apply to a wide variety of resource types, including buildings, sites, structures, objects and districts, and address four treatments:

  • Preservation,
  • Rehabilitation,
  • Restoration, and
  • Reconstruction.

The Treatment Standards are regulatory for the purposes of grant-in-aid projects assisted through the National Historic Preservation Fund; otherwise, the Treatment Standards are intended as general guidance for work on historic buildings.

The associated Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring & Reconstructing Historic Buildings apply to a specific resource type–i.e., buildings–and are intended to assist in applying the Treatment Standards to all project work on historic buildings. Consequently, the Guidelines are not meant to give case-specific advice, or address exceptions or rare instances, but to identify “Recommended” and “Not Recommended” approaches to work treatments and techniques that are consistent with the Treatment Standards.

The Guidelines provide critical guidance in applying The Treatment Standards, but were last updated in 1995 and are in need of updating and possible revision to reflect changes in the practice of historic preservation over the nearly twenty years since last published. The National Park Service’s Technical Preservation Services office is responsible for establishing preservation policy and guidance on preserving and rehabilitating historic buildings and will lead this effort.

Overview

As part of Action 25 of the Director’s Call to Action, the Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring & Reconstructing Historic Buildings will be revised and updated where necessary to reflect “modern historic preservation methods and technologies, show how historic structures can be made sustainable, and support efforts to rebuild the economic vitality of rural and urban communities.”

In addition to updating the layout and adding color photographs, the Guidelines will be reviewed to ensure that they can be successfully applied to all building systems and materials, including those pertaining to mid-century historic resources that are now listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places; continue to represent ‘best practices’ and current methods and technologies, some of which may not have been in popular use when the Guidelines were last published in 1995; and address such topics as energy conservation, sustainability, accessibility, and current health and safety code requirements, among other issues.

Both The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and the separate versions of The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation publications will be republished with the updated Guidelines, replacing earlier versions.

Background

The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and the associated Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring & Reconstructing Historic Buildings were last published in 1995. The Treatment Standards, developed in 1992, were codified as 36 CFR Part 68 in the July 12, 1995 Federal Register (Vol. 60, No. 133), and replace prior versions from 1978 and 1983. The 1995 Guidelines replaced those published in 1979, and greatly expanded in 1983, to accompany the earlier Standards.

The Standards for Rehabilitation are the most used of the four Treatment Standards and are separately codified (with a slight difference in wording) as 36 CFR Part 67.7 as part of the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program. The Standards for Rehabilitation are regulatory for rehabilitation projects to qualify as certified rehabilitations under the tax incentives program, but they are also used at the federal, state and local levels to guide work on historic buildings; historic preservation and planning commissions across the country have also adopted them to guide their design review processes. The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation & Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings were revised in 1990 and replaced earlier versions; illustrated guidelines was published in 1992. The Standards for Rehabilitation with new Illustrated Guidelines on Sustainability for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings (PDF, 2.3MB) were published in 2011. The Standards for Rehabilitation were last reviewed in 2006 as part of a National Park System Advisory Board report and determined to be appropriate and not in need of revision, but the Guidelines were not reviewed at that time.

Timeline

The entire process to update the Guidelines is anticipated to take two to three years. In the coming months, representatives of federal agencies and partner organizations will be invited to participate in the review of the Guidelines and offer initial comments. This web page will also be updated throughout the process and will be available for the partners and the public to offer comments and suggestions. Once a draft of the updated Guidelines has been developed, there will be additional opportunities to formally submit comments before a final version is published.

The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring, and Reconstructing Historic Buildings

The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring, and Reconstructing Historic Buildings (PDF, 4.3MB)