<photo>Detail of window arches above a rehabilitated storefront;  Link to National Park Service
<photo>detail of significant storefront

Identify    Protect    Repair    Replace    Missing feature 

Identify, Retain and Preserve

Identifying, retaining, and preserving storefronts--and their functional and decorative features--that are important in defining the overall historic character of the building such as display windows, signs, doors, transoms, kick plates, corner posts, and entablatures. The removal of inappropriate, nonhistoric cladding, false mansard roofs, and other later alterations can help reveal the historic character of a storefront.

This Moderne storefront has gained significance over time and would be retained and
preserved within the treatment, Rehabilitation. Photo: NPS files.

Not Recommended
Removing or radically changing storefronts--and their features--which are important in defining the overall historic character of the building so that, as a result, the character is diminished.

Changing the storefront so that it appears residential rather than commercial in character.

Removing historic material from the storefront to create a recessed arcade.

Introducing coach lanterns, mansard designs, wood shakes, nonoperable shutters, and small-paned windows if they cannot be documented historically.

Changing the location of a storefront's main entrance.

This photograph shows the impact of inappropriate alterations on historic storefronts. The storefront on the right has been totally obscured by a "modern" front added in the 1950s. Photo: NPS files.

Protect and Maintain

Protecting and maintaining masonry, wood, and architectural metals which comprise storefronts through appropriate treatments such as cleaning, rust removal, limited paint removal, and reapplication of protective coating systems.

The distinctive 19th century brick and wood storefront has been successfully maintained over time. Photo: NPS files.

Protecting storefronts against arson and vandalism before work begins by boarding up windows and installing alarm systems that are keyed into local protection agencies.

Evaluating the existing condition of storefront materials to determine whether more than protection and maintenance are required, that is, if repairs to features will be necessary.

Not Recommended
Failing to provide adequate protection of materials on a cyclical basis so that deterioration of storefront features results.

Permitting entry into the building through unsecured or broken windows and doors so that interior features and finishes are damaged by exposure to weather or vandalism.

Stripping storefronts of historic material such as wood, cast iron, terra cotta, carrara glass, and brick.

Failing to undertake adequate measures to assure the preservation of the historic storefront.


Repairing storefronts by reinforcing the historic materials. Repairs will also generally include the limited replacement in kind--or with compatible substitute materials--of those extensively deteriorated or missing parts of storefronts where there are surviving prototypes such as transoms, kick plates, pilasters, or signs.

In the treatment, Rehabilitation, one option for replacing missing historic features is to use pictorial documentation and/or physical evidence to re-create the historic feature. (a) In this example, the ornamental cornice of an 1866 limestone building was missing; and the ground level storefront had been extensively altered. (b) and (c) Based on the availability of photographic and other documentation, the owners were able to accurately restore the cornice and storefront to their historic configuration. A substitute material, fiberglass, was used to fabricate the missing pressed metal cornice, an acceptable alternative in this project. All work met the Standards.


Not Recommended
Replacing an entire storefront when repair of materials and limited replacement of its parts are appropriate.

Using substitute material for the replacement parts that does not convey the same visual appearance as the surviving parts of the storefront or that is physically or chemically incompatible.


Replacing in kind an entire storefront that is too deteriorated to repair--if the overall form and detailing are still evident--using the physical evidence as a model. If using the same material is not technically or economically feasible, then compatible substitute materials may be considered.


Not Recommended
Removing a storefront that is unrepairable and not replacing it; or replacing it with a new storefront that does not convey the same visual appearance.

The following work is highlighted to indicate that it represents the particularly complex technical or design aspects of Rehabilitation projects and should only be considered after the preservation concerns listed above have been addressed.

Design for the Replacement of Missing Historic Features

Designing and constructing a new storefront when the historic storefront is completely missing. It may be an accurate restoration using historical, pictorial, and physical documentation; or be a new design that is compatible with the size, scale, material, and color of the historic building.

Not Recommended
Creating a false historical appearance because the replaced storefront is based on insufficient historical, pictorial, and physical documentation.

Introducing a new design that is incompatible in size, scale, material, and color.

Using inappropriately scaled signs and logos or other types of signs that obscure, damage, or destroy remaining character-defining features of the historic building.



The Approach

Exterior Materials
Architectural Metals

Exterior Features
Entrances + Porches

Interior Features
Structural System Spaces/Features/Finishes
Mechanical Systems



Special Requirements
Energy Efficiency
New Additions
Health + Safety

The Standards



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Historical Overview