Caring for Historic Resources:

The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

and the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for

the Treatment of Historic Properties


The Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties are the Secretary of the Interior’s best advice to everyone on how to protect a wide range of historic properties and are intended to promote responsible preservation practices that help protect irreplaceable cultural resources. These guidelines are applied to certain programs administered by the Secretary through the National Park Service and grant-in-aid projects funded through the national Historic Preservation Fund. The Standards are intended to provide guidance to historic building owners and building managers, preservation consultants, architects, contractors, and project reviewers prior to treatment. Like many local, regional, state and private agencies nation-wide, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation uses the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties to guide our preservation work. The four treatment approaches outlined in the standards are Preservation, Rehabilitation, Restoration, and Reconstruction, outlined below in hierarchical order:


Preservation focuses on the maintenance and repair of existing historic materials and retention of a property's form as it has evolved over time. (Protection and Stabilization have now been consolidated under this treatment). Examples of SBTHP preservation projects include the Cañedo adobe (1786), El Cuartel (1788), Pico adobe (circa 1840s), Rochin adobe (1856), and the Santa Inés Mission Mills (1818-1820). A current preservation project is the condition assessment and stabilization of a painted figure at the Santa Inés Mission Mills property.




Restoration depicts a property at a particular period of time in its history, while removing evidence of other periods. The Casa de la Guerra is the best example of an SBTHP restoration project. Following years of detailed archaeological and architectural investigations the house was restored to the period of 1820s-1850s. This was accomplished by carefully removing architectural features and layers of fabric added to the building after the 1850s and faithfully restoring original architectural features based on archaeological evidence. You can view an online exhibit about SBTHP’s restoration of Casa de la Guerra here.

East wing of Casa de la Guerra during restoration c 1996

Rehabilitation acknowledges the need to alter or add to a historic property to meet continuing or changing uses while retaining the property's historic character. For the last decade SBTHP has been working on the redesign and rehabilitation of the former Santa Barbara School of the Arts property. Examples of SBTHP rehabilitation projects include the Alhecama Studios (1926) and the Presidio Research Center (1928). Currently SBTHP is working on a rehabilitation plan for the 1927 Alhecama Theatre. 


Reconstruction re-creates vanished or non-surviving portions of a property for interpretive purposes. Examples of reconstruction projects within El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP include the Padre's Quarters (1979), Chapel (1985), Comandancia (1992), Northeast Corner (1996), Chapel Belltower (2001), and the Northwest Corner Visitor's Center (2009). Since 2009, SBTHP's reconstruction efforts have been focused on the completion of the massive outer defense wall surrounding the Northwest Corner of the site. The completion of the outer wall will enclose the park but also provide for a landscaped walkway or Paseo del Presidio that will allow visitors to walk around the outside of the site from Canon Perdido Street around the Northwest Corner of the wall and on to Santa Barbara Street. 

For more information on the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties go to:

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