Choosing the Proper Treatment for a Historic Building

April 7, 2016 • Luke Scott, AIA


Restoring history for future generations is important. Classic architecture is the perfect opportunity to do just that. But maintaining or restoring a historic building takes a lot of effort and forethought. But before you start this important journey, you’ll have to give it plenty of thought and ask yourself a few questions about the process. We’re here to set you off in the right direction.

There are four distinct treatments you can utilize. But it’s fairly simple to mix these terms up when referring to a historic restoration, or is it preservation? Reconstruction? Yeah, we should probably keep reading, too.


Focuses on the maintenance and repair of existing historic materials and the retention of a property’s evolved form over time. As the name suggests, this process simply preserves the structure in its current state for the sake of longevity.



Acknowledges the need to alter or add to a historic property to meet continuing or changing uses while retaining historic character. This option doesn’t simply preserve. Rehabilitation is often utilized when a structure isn’t safe to occupy or is in a deeper level of disrepair.


Portrays a property at a particular period of time in its history, while removing evidence of all other periods. A great example of restoration would be the home or previous residence of a historical figure. Often, these structures are transformed into museums and must depict the time period of which the historical individual occupied the residence.



Recreates vanished or non-surviving portions of a property for interpretive purposes. Time, the elements and the unknowing wrecking ball are often the biggest enemies of a historic structure. Often, certain portions of a building are either damaged beyond repair or gone completely. So to bring the structure back to its former glory, it’s necessary to completely reconstruct missing or damaged sections.

As you can see, there are many options. Typically your decision will hinge on a few different variables – historical significance, physical condition, proposed use and intended interpretation – but more to come on these topics soon. Until then, if you have any questions about renewing a historical structure, or just architecture in general, don’t hesitate to contact your Wichita architecture firm – WDM Architects.