How Not to Meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties

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The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties are a set of guidelines for bricks-and-mortar work on historic buildings. Many of our clients who are undertaking a preservation project for the first time worry that the standards are restrictive, difficult to meet, and expensive. In truth, the SOI standards have room for flexibility and innovative solutions, and are a great resource for embarking upon a historic preservation project. That said, we do sometimes come across “treatments” that leave something to be desired – case in point, this attempt we found to replicate the handtooling of the surrounding historic stone masonry (location classified to protect the guilty). We could say “Well, at least they tried!” but patching between stone blocks with Portland cement is way worse than just an aesthetic issue! This incompatible material can cause even more damage to the historic stone around it. If you are unsure about a repair to any element of an old building, please give us a call and we will be happy to point you in the right direction. Most likely it will not involve drawing in wet cement.

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Courtney is the owner and principal of Aurora Research Associates, LLC, an historic preservation consulting firm.

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