Existing Buildings & Historic Preservation

General Design Guidelines

The primary goal of historic preservation is to keep what remains of the historic character of a building.  The character of a building’s exterior is expressed through surviving original features such as roof type, doors, and windows, cladding, trim, and ornamentation.  Maintaining the historic integrity of a building involves the process of identifying, retaining, and preserving those features and qualities that define a building’s historic appearance.  Where all or most of these features have been changed, the building’s integrity is effectively lost.

When working on old buildings, two common mistakes actually damage historic value rather than preserve it.  One mistake is to add historic features to a building that never were there.  The other is to make an old building look new or modern.

Even in cases where some of the original features of a building have been altered or lost, there are ways to re-establish the building’s historic appearance.  Reproducing the building’s original features or developing a new, compatible design are strategies that can meet historic preservation standards.

The following general guidelines apply to all exterior work and/or interior work that affects the exterior of an existing historic building.  They are based on the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. (see appendix)