Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Historic Preservation

Committee Chair/Advisor

Amalia Leifeste

Committee Member

Laurel Bartlett

Committee Member

Valerie Perry

Committee Member

Richard Grant Gilmore


Museums are a public good, as they provide educational recreation and preserve cultural history, and so it is crucial that they are physically accessible to as many visitors as possible. The aim of this study was to understand what architectural features of historic house museums are the least accessible and what has been done to ameliorate these challenges. The survey used in the study was developed using the guidelines for making historic buildings accessible as described in the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards. It was distributed by email to representatives of 220 historic sites, of which 79 responded. The results suggested that the number of visitors to a site is essentially irrelevant to what level of accessibility the historic house possesses. A site’s budget often, but not always, influences the accessibility measures available for visitors. Many museum administrators describe barriers to increased accessibility in the form of limitations imposed by regulatory bodies and the risk of damaging the houses’ historical integrity. Even so, building stewards are generally enthusiastic about expanding accessibility and want to find ways to implement measures compatible with their buildings’ historic fabric.



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