A building’s historic character is far more than just how it looks. The historic character of a building is also dependent on the building’s “material integrity” – the extent of its surviving original historic material. The careful replication of historic features with new materials may result a building that may look like the original, but as historic material is replaced over time the material integrity of the building is diminished until at some point the historic character may be lost altogether.
With this in mind, the best advice is to:
There are many ways in which a property can be restored or repaired before replacement of a feature is warranted. When deteriorated, damaged, or lost features of a historic building need replacement, it is almost always best to use traditional materials (wood for wood, slate for slate, copper for copper, etc.).These materials have already demonstrated their longevity over a very long time to work well given the unique conditions of the site and building. When historic features and materials are replaced with matching materials, the change in visual appearance is minimized.
The very best resource and guidance on this subject is the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties prepared by the National Park Service. The National Park Service also maintains an evolving set of Preservation Briefs that offer more detailed examples for some of the more common questions faced by property owners. Below are a number of links relating to windows, roofing, railings and other features.
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