Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties


Property owners should use these definitions of Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration and Reconstruction along with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation as guidelines as they explore improvements to their historic buildings and sites. The Secretary of Interior’s Standards are used by government agencies charged with protecting designated landmarks, but they function well in all preservation contexts.

Property owners should bear in mind that the decision to treat their homes, gardens and or business locations as historic and worthy of preservation is their’s alone. Governments need not intervene when it comes to preserving the historic fabric of our communities.

The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring & Reconstructing Historic Buildings.


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