Technical Historical Preservation Guidance

About the Preservation Office

The Historic Preservation Field Services Bureau of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, known as the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), administers state and federal preservation programs in New York State. Using the national preservation program as its framework, our office identifies, evaluates and protects historic properties, offers incentives for their preservation, and provides support and assistance to preservation activities statewide. At the forefront of our mission in carrying out these activities is preservation advocacy and education.

Purpose of SHPO

The SHPO technical staff provides guidance and advice in the restoration, rehabilitation and maintenance of historic properties. In this publication, we have identified typical categories of work, issues and treatments that occur in historic preservation projects, as well as preservation recommendations for each category. This information covers work common to most preservation projects; however, all items may not pertain to your specific project. Please call us at 518-237-8643 if we can be of further assistance.

Preservation Standards

The SHPO handles a variety of projects ranging from housing to accessibility to new additions on historic buildings. Our involvement usually is triggered by state and federal laws protecting historic properties and/or state and federal programs which provide financial incentives for preservation. We evaluate projects using federal preservation standards, known as the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The Standards cover specific preservation treatments and approaches; their overriding philosophy is to maximize retention of historic features, materials, and spaces and minimize alterations.

The intent of the Standards-to assure the long-term preservation of historic properties-can be summarized in general preservation principles that should be considered in planning work at any historic property. These preservation principles are:
  • Be authentic: if a feature is missing, use historic documentation to guide restoration
  • Do not use treatments that damage historic materials
  • New construction should not destroy historic materials or characteristics. Additions and new work should be compatible with the historic property
  • Repair existing features, materials, and elements. If deteriorated, replace in-kind
  • Respect the evolution of historic changes, fashion, taste and use
  • Retain distinguishing qualities and characteristics