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Planning and Community Development Department

  • Design & Historic Preservation

  • The Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings

    By City code, the Design & Historic Preservation Section of the Planning Division uses The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings for review of alterations, additions, and rehabilitation's involving architecturally and historically significant buildings.  These ten standards apply to all reviews conducted by the Historic Preservation Commission and, when applicable, the Design Commission.

    Visit the National Park Service Website to view the Standards >>


    The intent of the Standards is to promote the long-term preservation of historically significant properties through the long-term preservation of historic materials and features. Initially developed by the Secretary of the Interior to determine the appropriateness of work on registered properties within the Historic Preservation Fund grant-in-aid program, The Standards for Rehabilitation of Historic Buildings have been widely used over the years, particularly to determine if a rehabilitation qualifies as a certified rehabilitation for Federal tax purposes. In addition, the Standards have guided Federal agencies in carrying out their historic preservation responsibilities for properties in Federal ownership or control; and State and local officials in reviewing both Federal and nonfederal rehabilitation proposals. They have also been extensively adopted by historic district commissions and planning commissions across the country for use within local designated historic areas.



    1. A property shall be used for its historic purpose or be placed in a new use that requires minimal change to the defining characteristics of the building and its site and environment.
    2. The historic character of a property shall be retained and preserved. The removal of historic materials or alteration of features and spaces that characterize a property shall be avoided.
    3. Each property shall be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Changes that create a false sense of historical development, such as adding conjectural features or architectural elements from other buildings, shall not be undertaken.
    4. Most properties change over time; those changes that have acquired historic significance in their own right shall be retained and preserved.
    5. Distinctive features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a historic property shall be preserved.
    6. Deteriorated historic features shall be repaired rather than replaced. Where the severity of the deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new features shall match the old in design, color, texture, and other visual qualities and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features shall be substantiated by documentary, physical, or pictorial evidence.
    7. Chemical or physical treatments, such as sandblasting, that cause damage to historic materials shall not be used. The surface cleaning of structures, if appropriate, shall be undertaken using the gentlest means possible.
    8. Significant archeological resources affected by a project shall be protected and preserved. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures shall be undertaken.
    9. New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment.
    10. New additions and adjacent or related new construction shall be undertaken in such a manner that if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.

    Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings

    The secretary of the Interor has also published more specific information on The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation which identifies in detail "recommended treatments" and "not  recommended treatments." Among the topics covered by this supplemental information are: 

    • windows;
    • storefronts;
    • new construction;
    • new additions to historic buildings; and
    • entrances and porches.

    This information is available from the National Park Service website.  

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