Historical Restoration

Restoration is the act or process of accurately depicting the form, features, and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time by means of the removal of features from other periods in its history and reconstruction of missing features from the restoration period. The limited and sensitive upgrading of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and other code-required work to make properties functional is appropriate within a restoration project.

Rather than maintaining and preserving a building as it has evolved over time, the expressed goal of the Standards for Restoration and Guidelines for Restoring Historic Buildings is to make the building appear as it did at a particular--and most significant--time in its history. First, those materials and features from the "restoration period" are identified, based on thorough historical research. Next, features from the restoration period are maintained, protected, repaired (i.e., stabilized, consolidated, and conserved), and replaced, if necessary. As opposed to other treatments, the scope of work in Restoration can include removal of features from other periods; missing features from the restoration period may be replaced, based on documentary and physical evidence, using traditional materials or compatible substitute materials. The final guidance emphasizes that only those designs that can be documented as having been built should be re-created in a restoration project.

Standards for Restoration

  1. A property will be used as it was historically or be given a new use which reflects the property's restoration period.
  2. Materials and features from the restoration period will be retained and preserved. The removal of materials or alteration of features, spaces, and spatial relationships that characterize the period will not be undertaken.
  3. Each property will be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Work needed to stabilize, consolidate and conserve materials and features from the restoration period will be physically and visually compatible, identifiable upon close inspection, and properly documented for future research.
  4. Materials, features, spaces, and finishes that characterize other historical periods will be documented prior to their alteration or removal.
  5. Distinctive materials, features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize the restoration period will be preserved.
  6. Deteriorated features from the restoration period will be repaired rather than replaced. Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature will match the old in design, color, texture, and, where possible, materials.
  7. Replacement of missing features from the restoration period will be substantiated by documentary and physical evidence. A false sense of history will not be created by adding conjectural features, features from other properties, or by combining features that never existed together historically.
  8. Chemical or physical treatments, if appropriate, will be undertaken using the gentlest means possible. Treatments that cause damage to historic materials will not be used.
  9. Archaeological resources affected by a project will be protected and preserved in place. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures will be undertaken.
  10. Designs that were never executed historically will not be constructed.