<photo> Detail of interior wood feature; Link to National Park Service
Introduction to Standards and Guidelines: Historical Overview
<photo>operational historic boiler

Mechanical, lighting and plumbing systems improved significantly with the coming of the Industrial Revolution. The 19th century interest in hygiene, personal comfort, and the reduction of the spread of disease were met with the development of central heating, piped water, piped gas, and network of underground cast iron sewers. Vitreous tiles in kitchens, baths and hospitals could be cleaned easily and regularly. The mass production of cast iron radiators made central heating affordable to many; some radiators were elaborate and included special warming chambers for plates or linens. Ornamental grilles and registers provided decorative covers for functional heaters in public spaces. By the turn of the 20th century, it was common to have all these modern amenities as an integral part of the building.

The greatest impacts of the 20th century on mechanical systems were the use of electricity for interior lighting, forced air ventilation, elevators for tall buildings, exterior lighting and electric heat. The new age of technology brought an increasingly high level of design and decorative art to many of the functional elements of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

The visible decorative features of historic mechanical systems such as grilles, lighting fixtures, and ornamental switchplates may contribute to the overall historic character of the building. Their identification needs to take place, together with an evaluation of their physical condition, early in project planning. On the other hand, mechanical systems need to work efficiently so many older systems, such as compressors and their ductwork, and wiring and pipes often need to be upgraded or entirely replaced in order to meet modern requirements.



Choosing Treatment

Using the Standards + Guidelines

-Historical Overview-

Exterior Materials
Architectural Metals

Exterior Features
Entrances + Porches

Interior Features
Structural System Spaces/Features/Finishes
Mechanical Systems



Special Requirements
Energy Efficiency
Health + Safety
New Additions




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