When remodeling a very old home, even a historic one, it's best to preserve as much of the original home that you can. At the same time, you don't want to compromise safety with 'looks'.
When it comes to a floor, usually, the original floor is 'removed' (vs. ripped up.) Then, new joists are installed/sistered to the existing floor system to level the floor. At the same time, walls and ceilings are given the 'appropriate' attention. Cost is of great importance here because the more you do to preserve the original home, the more it will cost.
You can cut corners as you like. However, you may hurt resale value AND recognition-value (as you put it) in the process. THere are PLENTY of books out there that you can buy that talk about how to remodel an old home whilst preserving its character. They're worth every penny. Just be sure that you buy a book (or books) that discuss your type of home and issues. It's money well spent.
My best to ya and hope this helps.
I am unable to remove the flooring - since the walls were put on after the fact. There is a kitchen built on top of the planks in another room. The planks run to the center of the house from each end. Then there were walls built on the outside walls to add insultation and electric wiring.
So I won't be able to remove the floor. I wish I could - but we did all we could to get the carpet tore out.
The landlord thinks that the only way to make the floor appear level is to lay carpet back down. We really had our hearts set on hardwood - but is it realistic to level the floor up (with shims and floor leveler) and put down red elm?