In a world that is changing at an ever faster pace, people need anchors. These are provided by historical buildings. Up to now, assessing the value of these buildings and determining municipal preservation policy is done by experts. Protests from residents against this policy are becoming more frequent, however and insight into lay people's criteria for evaluating historicity is required, so that their values may be taken into account. These criteria were identified by means of in-depth interviews among the inhabitants of a region in the south of the Netherlands. Four qualities determined the aesthetic evaluation of historical buildings: completeness, beauty, uniqueness and good workmanship. Information plays a role as well. It not only enhances beauty, but it also gives an object more meaning. Lastly, the state of maintenance, the function and the surroundings of buildings are important; historical buildings must not be dilapidated and they must fit into their environment. Only then do they provide anchors, giving stability to people's living environment. One of the differences between lay people and experts is that for lay people aesthetic criteria mainly determine historical quality, while for experts information value is the important criterion.