Historic Preservation Standards exist to establish professionally responsible and legally consistent actions when historic preservation construction work is done. They are part of the regulatory process.

If you own historic property you may want to know when Historic Preservation Standards apply. Here are the instances:

  1. When a property owner is receiving Federal funds, tax credits, a license or permit.
  2. When local or state regulations require the standards be applied.

a. In Helena, when demolition in a National Register District is proposed.

b. In Helena, when the demolition of a listed National Register property is proposed.

c. In Helena, when façade (scenic) easements are reviewed.

d. In Helena, when new construction is proposed for tax abatement.

e. In Helena and Lewis & Clark County, when the Historic Preservation Commission provides advice on a preservation related proposal (Note that such advice may be binding ONLY when a formal regulation is in place. This just means that the HPC uses the Standards to remain consistent. It does not mean the Standards are required in all cases).

3. When federal or state property is affected by a project.

 Atlas Block, Helena
Atlas Block, Helena

Listing on the National Register of Historic Places does NOT automatically involve regulations unless the property is in Federal ownership. This is because the Register is a Federal planning tool, monitoring the impact of Federal expenditures. State and local governments can use the Register as a reference when they create their own laws but this is at their initiative.

Restoration Standards The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Property. There are separate standards for Restoration (museum quality), Protection (stabilization) Rehabilitation (conversion or addition) and Reconstruction. They are very similar. Each comes with GUIDELINES that illustrate how to proceed with a preservation project. The guidelines provide excellent advice on how to approach a preservation problem. All federally impacted projects are judged against the Secretary’s Standards.

The Helena/Lewis & Clark County Historic Preservation Commission uses both the Secretary’s Standards and local standards when it conducts its work. Local preservation guidance is found in two documents;

Neighborhood Historic Preservation Standards Helena(PDF, 7MB)

Downtown Helena Historic Preservation Standards(PDF, 7MB)

These Guidelines are used to further help understand how the Secretary’s Standards apply to Helena.