such as door knobs and push plates, should not be lacquered,
since the lacquer will wear unevenly and make it more difficult
to polish. Reproduction replacement hardware and parts are
widely available from commercial sources.
4.14 INTERIOR PARTITIONS. The floor plan and room arrangement of
a historic building are considered character-defining design
elements. They should only be changed with great caution.
Generally, new partitions can be installed in ways that will not
permanently change or harm the historic materials. Do not remove
important existing partitions. Do not install partitions that
cannot later be removed without damaging the historic structure.
Corridors are particularly important visual elements and should
not be altered. Cornices, decorative elements, and ceilings are
also important. Do not lower ceilings to install fluorescent
lighting or to conceal wiring or HVAC requirements. Lowering the
ceiling does not conserve energy. Acoustic ceiling tile panels
should be added only if essential, and never in residential
(See Figure 4-28.) New openings in partitions should
be similar in scale and proportion to existing doors but need not
4.15 STAIRS. Stairways are among the most important decorative
elements inside a historic building. In fact, in some simple
buildings, they may be the only decoration or design distinction.
They should not be enclosed, removed, or turned in a different
direction. If the fire safety code requires enclosing the stair,
consider enclosing the entire hall, not just the stairway. When
creating such a stair hall, consider partitions of fire-rated
glass rather than solid partitions. Do not replace wood, iron,
or masonry railings and balusters with modern pieces. Whenever
possible, install a new enclosed stair in another less important
area, or install other safety features such as sprinklers.
4.16 INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR FINISHES. Keep historic finish types,
whether they be paint, stains and varnishes, wallpapers, wood
paneling on walls or wainscoting, ceramic tile walls or floors,
or simulated graining and marbling. Do not use polyurethane
finishes on woodwork or floors. It cannot be removed without
removing the surface of the wood. Reproduction ceramic tiles are
often commercially available. Keep and repair "noble" materials,
such as hardwood and marble and other fine stone. Do not paint
over noble materials such as marble or limestone, etc. Remove
paint if found.
(Refer to Section 4.4.1.) Restoring finishes
usually requires a specialist. If desired, reproduction
wallpapers in historic patterns, including borders and ceiling
papers, are widely available and should be used instead of
modern design. Fireplaces are often of marble or other stone,
or they may have decorative tiles, cast or sheet-metal
mantelpieces, or faux-painted mantels and overmantels. Repair
and refurbish them if possible, but do not remove them.
Closed-in fireplaces might be reopened for historic