Preservation Documents and Resources

Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Places: Rehabilitation

From the NPS website:

The following Standards for Rehabilitation are the criteria used to determine if a rehabilitation project qualifies as a certified rehabilitation. The intent of the Standards is to assist the long-term preservation of a property’s significance through the preservation of historic materials and features. The Standards pertain to historic buildings of all materials, construction types, sizes, and occupancy and encompass the exterior and the interior of historic buildings. The Standards also encompass related landscape features and the building’s site and environment, as well as attached, adjacent, or related new construction. To be certified, a rehabilitation project must be determined by the Secretary to be consistent with the historic character of the structure(s) and, where applicable, the district in which it is located. The following Standards are to be applied to specific rehabilitation projects in a reasonable manner, taking into consideration economic and technical feasibility.

  1. A property shall be used for its historic purpose or be placed in a new use that requires minimal change to the defining characteristics of the building and its site and environment.
  2. The historic character of a property shall be retained and preserved. The removal of historic materials or alteration of features and spaces that characterize a property shall be avoided.
  3. Each property shall be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Changes that create a false sense of historical development, such as adding conjectural features or architectural elements from other buildings, shall not be undertaken.
  4. Most properties change over time; those changes that have acquired historic significance in their own right shall be retained and preserved.
  5. Distinctive features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a historic property shall be preserved.
  6. Deteriorated historic features shall be repaired rather than replaced. Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement of a distinctive feature, the new feature shall match the old in design, color, texture, and other visual qualities and, where possible, materials. Replacement of missing features shall be substantiated by documentary, physical, or pictorial evidence.
  7. Chemical or physical treatments, such as sandblasting, that cause damage to historic materials shall not be used. The surface cleaning of structures, if appropriate, shall be undertaken using the gentlest means possible.
  8. Significant archeological resources affected by a project shall be protected and preserved. If such resources must be disturbed, mitigation measures shall be undertaken.
  9. New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment.
  10. New additions and adjacent or related new construction shall be undertaken in such a manner that if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.

Historic Wood Windows: Why Repair and not Replace?

Click Here for Historic Wood Window Information and Links from the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation

Click Here for Save America’s Windows, a book on restoration.

Click Here for Window Preservation Standards, a book on window restoration standards.

Click Here for “Four Top Myths of Window Replacement” from Traditional Building Magazine.

Window inside – After

“Period and historic wood windows in combination with quality weather stripping and proper fitting storm windows are as energy efficient as modern double pane windows and they will outlast any replacement.”Olde Window Restorers.

Replacement windows in a historic building can never look like the original, and they never look right. The entire new window assembly, not just the sash, is molded plastic or fast-growing (not old-growth) wood; the dividers are fake; and they install flush with the outside wall, so they look flat. All of the trim has to be replaced, inside and out. They can’t match the craftsmanship or appearance of the originals. Installing them requires damaging the window opening, so that once you replace windows, there is no going back.

Windows are often a defining element in the architecture, and a large part of the historic fabric of a historic building, so their loss matters.

The main reason people replace windows is to save energy costs. But, even double pane windows are not good insulation: the amount of energy saved is never enough to pay for the cost of replacment. You get essentially the same energy-efficiency benefits – at a fraction of the cost – by restoring windows, weatherstripping, and adding a storm window, either interior or exterior, which is what is recommended by professional preservationists. You can get interior glazing that opens, so you could leave them on all year round, or an easy emergency egress.

Replacement is not recommended even in non-historic buildings: by the time you recoup your costs in energy savings, the windows have to be replaced again. This has been researched in many studies, by states, universities and other entities. Some references and studies can be found at

Do the research, so the math, and evaluate your own situation – don’t assume replacements are right for your building.

Window Efficiency Facts and Myths

Saving Windows, Saving Money: Evaluating the Energy Performance of Window Retrofit and Replacement

The Economics of Historic Preservation

Traditional Window Care and Repair

Making a Case for Window Restoration

Cumulative Energy Use Study Historic and Modern Windows

Historic Wood Windows: How to Repair

Handout on Step by Step Repair by Steve Homer

National Park Service Preservation Brief 9, The Repair of Historic Wooden Windows

Handout by National Trust for Historic Preservation

Wood Window Repair Workshop by Landmark Consulting

Tips, Websites and Products:

Tips, Websites and Products:
Use a sharp glass cutter. You can tell when it gets dull when the line gets wide and you don’t get that nice hiss as you cut. There are Youtube videos on glass cutting that are much better than a description.

A point shooter is invaluable. We used a Fletcher-Terry point shooter, there are other brands. You get much less breakage.

Glazing compound: you have to order, but Sarco Dual Glaze dries to a hard finish like traditional glazing. Aqua Glaze is water based, that is easy to use and can be painted within a day or so versus most of the other products that require one to two weeks dry time. DAP 33 takes a very long time to set up for painting, but is what’s available locally.

A new thing, that’s endorsed by professional window restorers, and that we’ve found extremely worthwhile, is using a steam box to loosen paint and glazing. We ordered plans for our steambox from, which has a video of one in use. A steambox saves hours, no, days, of work! You get less breakage and better results, because the paint comes off too. Windows this size are best done with two people, so you can take all the glass out before it cools.

Here are some products for paint stripping:
Another tool is the silent paint remover which uses infrared heat.

A HEPA vacuum is good for attaching to your sander and/or scraper, and for cleaning up around your window work, because you should always assume lead when working on any building from before 1978. As in any work on old buildings, wear personal protective equipment, and use best practices.

Liquid epoxy is useful for consolidating soft (rotten) wood, and epoxy putty can be molded to build up places where parts of the profile are missing. We used LiquidWood and WoodEpox from Abatron, but there are other brands as well.

A great site for restoration of old houses is, the online version of Old House Journal (not to be confused with This Old House, which is more about replacing than restoring). Their motto, Save Good Old Work.

The National Park Service has a trove of research, information and guidelines, for historic preservation: Preservation Brief 9, The Repair of Historic Wooden Windows is available on line.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, which is a private organization, is at They have info on old windows if you search, National Trust old windows.

Weatherstripping – can be found online, and there are products like plastic v-stripping available in town. You can gain a lot of energy-efficiency and comfort for your home by sealing air leaks, around windows, outlets, and trim, with products like caulk and foam. Most energy loss in old houses is from “infiltration,” or drafts.

“Period and historic wood windows in combination with quality weather stripping and proper fitting storm windows are as energy efficient as modern double pane windows and they will outlast any replacement.” – Olde Window Restorers.

We’ve successfully used interior magnetic storm windows from Allied Window. The major concern with interior storms is condensation, but we have had ours for about 5 years without issues. These are inexpensive, easy to install, and unobtrusive.

Our best source for replacement window hardware turned out to be Killian’s hardware. Another place that had replacement hardware was Architectural Resource Center, which didn’t happen to have the hardware we needed, but has a good selection.

Sash cord is available in 1200-foot spools; apparently Samson’s Spot brand is the best, and it’s quite affordable. 1/4 inch diameter cord, called Number 8, is a standard size. We got ours from Rigging Warehouse.

Lead-Safe Practices

All work on buildings from 1978 or before has to be done with care to avoid lead contamination. Lead is harmful to humans, and especially bad for babies and children. Lead was not banned from paint until 1978. If you are working on your own home, use proper precautions to protect health. Commercial contractors doing work on pre-1978 buildings need to be lead certified. Procedures and more information is at the EPA site. The EPA has also produced a very helpful booklet on step by step procedures.

Here are some products for better paint stripping:

Historic Sites of Sitka map by Sitka Historical Society
The back of the Historic Sites of Sitka map
Sheldon Jackaon School National Historic Landmark brochure page one (prints at legal size)

Click here for a pdf of the brochure: brochure-historic-campus-v2

Back of Sheldon Jackson School National Historic Landmark brochure – prints at legal size
Draft sign by Matt Hunter
1997 Sitka Historic Preservation Plan_Page_1
1997 Sitka Historic Preservation Plan_Page_2
Sitka’s Historic Preservation Plan (Sitka’s Historic Preservation Commission has been working on an update to this plan, but that draft is still in process).

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