How Are Historic Buildings Restored?

Anyone who’s traveled to a historic site has likely wondered, “How are historic buildings restored?” Around the world — from the Great Wall of China to the Colosseum of Italy — historic structures are systematically preserved for new generations to witness. 

Of course, restoring an ancient building that may be hundreds, or even thousands, of years old is no easy feat. Contractors must work slowly and carefully to preserve the historical value of the structure. 

To find out what this involves, check out the brief guide below. 

What Is a Historic Building?

There are a few ways to designate a historic building — federally, through the state, or locally. 

The National Park Service is in charge of designating historic buildings. They do this through the National Historic Landmarks (NHL) Program and the National Register for Historic Places. Every state has its own State Historic Preservation Office which has its own criteria for historic designation. Finally, local governments can enact a preservation ordinance.

Once a building has been deemed historic by some authority, grants and other funds may be available to those who wish to restore it.

How Are Historic Buildings Restored?

Before you begin the process of historic building restoration, consider what treatment is most appropriate. This is based on its condition, the purpose of restoration, and its historic significance. There are four main types of treatment:

  • Reconstruction
  • Restoration
  • Rehabilitation
  • Preservation

Preserved historic buildings are not meant for modern uses. This project intends to keep the building as close to its original form as possible. These projects are largely meant to enrich the community. 

Historic buildings that are rehabilitated keep the historic integrity at the forefront, but there may need to be more changes due to the varying uses of the building.

Restoration is almost like the opposite of these treatments — it removes modern alterations to historic buildings to return them to their historic glory. 

Finally, reconstruction requires a new build due to irreparable damage to the structure over the years.  

Maintaining Structural Integrity

Long before considering design or other aesthetic choices, a person who wants to restore a building needs to have the structural integrity of the building assessed. Typically, the integrity of the walls, roof, doors, and windows are most affected. Water damage and dangerous mold growth may also need to be addressed. 

The most difficult part of repairing this damage is that modern building materials are very different today. Expert masons and other specialist builders may need to be called in.

Maintaining Original Character

When maintaining the original character of a historic building, keep the mantra, “Repair before replace.” Try to keep any alterations as close to the original style as possible.

Of course, maintaining the original character doesn’t mean keeping the mold, graffiti, or rust on a historic building. Processes like media blasting can help remove unwanted things on the surface without causing damage.

Getting Started on Restoration

How are historic buildings restored? Through slow, careful planning, followed by slow, careful work. These projects are best suited for people with a great passion for history. 

For more interesting articles like this one, take a second to browse our page.

Previous Post
Next Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *