The City of Canton
Historic Preservation Commission


  •  Introduction to Historic Preservation and Rehabilitation

  •  Secretary of the Interiorís Standards for Rehabilitation

  •  Applying the Standards

  •  Canton Preservation Goals


Architecture is an art form, but it cannot be preserved in a climate controlled museum environment like fine art and decorative art. Some historic buildings are preserved in museum-like settings at Colonial Williamsburg or similar restorations, but the vast majority of historic buildings have to evolve to survive. Empty buildings become deteriorated buildings and tomorrowís vacant lots. Consequently, most work on historic buildings is defined as rehabilitation rather than restoration.

The federal government defines rehabilitation as the "process of returning a property to a state of utility, through repair or alteration, which makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portions and features of the property which are significant to its historic, architectural, and cultural values."

The key to a successful rehabilitation is respecting the historic character of the building and preserving as many of the original historic materials and details as possible. Alterations should be easily reversible to allow a future owner to return the building to its original configuration. Owning a historic building or structure is a privilege and responsibility. Owners of historic properties should view themselves as temporary caretakers of a communityís architectural heritage.



The Canton Design Guidelines are written to be consistent with the Secretary of the Interiorís Standards for Rehabilitation. These federal standards are used to determine the appropriateness of work treatments for every project taking advantage of either federal grant-in-aids or preservation tax incentives. The Standards for Rehabilitation should be referenced by property owners and design professionals during the planning process.



  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 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.



The Standards for Rehabilitation include basic steps in making recommendations. Keeping these steps in mind during the planning process will insure a successful rehabilitation project, during the review process.

Applying the Secretary of Interiorís Standards

  1. Identify, Retain and Preserve the form, materials, and detailing that define the character of the historic property.

  2. Protect and Maintain the character-defining aspects of the historic property with the least intervention possible and before undertaking other work. Protection includes regular maintenance.

  3. Repair is the step beyond protect and maintain. It includes patching, piecing-in, splicing, and consolidating. Repairing also includes limited in-kind replacement.

  4. Replacement is the last resort in the preservation process and is appropriate only if the missing feature cannot reasonably be repaired. Replace with the same material, if possible, but a substitute material may be necessary

  5. Design for Missing Features should be based on the documented historic appearance of the property. If no documentation exists, a new design is appropriate if it respects the size, scale, and material of the property.

  6. Alterations/Additions to Historic Buildings are sometimes needed to insure continued use, but they should not radically change, obscure, or destroy character-defining spaces, materials, features, or finishes.



Cantonís preservation goals are outlined in the Statement of Purpose in the Canton Preservation Ordinance. The goals of the Canton Preservation Ordinance are similar to the goals of many historic communities across the nation.

  1. Effect and accomplish the protection, enhancement and perpetuation of landmarks, landmark sites and historic districts which represent distinctive elements of the Cityís cultural, social, economic, political and architectural history;

  2. Safeguard the Cityís historic, aesthetic and cultural heritage, as embodied and reflected in such landmarks, land- mark sites and historic districts;

  3. Foster civic pride in the accomplishments of the past;

  4. Insure the harmonious, orderly and efficient growth and development of the City;

  5. Stabilize the economy of the City through the continued use and revitalization of its landmarks, landmark sites and historic districts;

  6. Protect and enhance the Cityís attractions to tourists and visitors and the support and stimulus to business and industry thereby provided;

  7. Promote the use of landmarks, landmark sites and historic districts for the education, pleasure and welfare of the people of the City of Canton.

The Canton Design Guidelines will assist the city in fulfilling the goals outlined in the Canton Preservation Ordinance by providing guidance for owners of historic properties, design professionals, and members of the Canton Preservation Commission. Preserving Cantonís historic resources is essential to maintaining Cantonís unique identity and special sense of place.

2003 Canton Redevelopment Authority, All Rights Reserved