Has a building ever “spoken” to you? We won’t get all touchy-feely, but you know what I’m talking about, right? Think of the cool shadows of the Lincoln Memorial on a hot humid summer day; the eeriness of entering the federal prison on Alcatraz Island; the home where Edgar Allan Poe wrote the poem Tell-Tale Heart (remember the floor boards?). The stories and feelings that historic structures evoke and the educational and interpretive opportunities that they provide are invaluable. Managing these structures is no easy task!
Historic structures are defined as “a constructed work…consciously created to serve some human activity,” and include buildings and monuments, dams, archeological resources, etc. Preservation and conservation of historic structures is an interdisciplinary effort, requiring the skills of historical architects, architectural conservators, preservation specialists, archeologists, landscape architects, historians, ethnographers, curators and facility management .
The preservation of historic structures involves two basic concerns: slowing the rate at which historic material is lost and maintaining historic character. Stewardship of historic structures focus on three strategic and interwoven approaches: 1.) Research – defining historic associations, integrity, character, and the causes of deterioration; 2.) Design/Planning - developing and evaluating proposals, in line with historic compliance, for appropriate use and treatment in terms of their likely impacts on an historic resource; and, 3.) Stewardship – comprised of activities ranging from specialized trades training to the identification and mitigation of threats.
To learn more about historic structures, NPS standards and competencies for all related disciplines, available training, and much more, please explore the links throughout this page. To learn more about the NPS Historic Structures Program, please visit the website, (available to NPS users only) or visit the public resources of the NPS Technical Preservation Services Program.