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Are you glad you landmarked your house ?

Posted by old_house_j_i_m (My Page) on
Thu, Sep 22, 11 at 16:56

Some neighbors and I have agreed that it is time to try to landmark our homes. We just started the journey, last night, and I am after a huge "Preservation High" I'm crashing a bit.

Ha anyone landmarked their house ? how was the process for you? I know that every district or region differs, but it cant be all that distinct and would love to hear about your stories.

The neighbors houses have original exterior surfaces: brick or clapboards. We have vinyl over clapboard and shingle. My preservation consultant said not to worry about the vinyl and that it would be OK to remove it even after we're landmarked. I I fear that I am letting some old horror stories get to me about people who landmarked their vinyl-clad historic home, only to be told they could never remove the vinyl to restore the original wood clapboards (the intelligent side of me says that this is preposterous, but historic review boards sometimes do make "unique" decisions.)

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Are you glad you landmarked your house ?

By "landmark", do you mean "added to the national historic register"?

For us, that process was done well before we purchased the home. However, from my dealings with our state historic preservation offices, I don't think you have anything to fear. These people LOVE old house. If you want to restore a place to original condition, they will be your best friends.

eg we had a chain link fence that was in place on the property at the time of designation. We applied to remove it. The woman who took my application actual cheered out loud when she read it.

My recommendation would be to go down and talk to them. Introduce yourself. Show enthusiasm. Ask questions etc. Much of their time is spent dealing with people who don't "follow the rules", so they are usually excited to get to work with people who share their views on preservation and restoration. They are likely experts on the history of buildings in the area and can be great resources for you.

RE: Are you glad you landmarked your house ?

Great to hear your having a good experience. Yeah, Im pretty much a make it just like it was when it was built kinda guy (as much as my finances allow). I have been talking with our local preservation non-profit CEO. Shes great and said there should be no problems.

Is anyone else having good/bad experiences ?

The CEO DID explain the difference between the National Register and landmarking or being in a preservation District. All three are distinct - You can be one, two, or all of them and one does not impose on the other distinction.

Being on the Register is pretty much like having a stamp on your house that says "old place". It affords no real protection for the property. Being in a preservation district is what most people complain about ("they want to tell me what color to paint my house") and is where the neighborhood collectively decides on the "rules" for the district. Being a landmark is similar to a district, but its for a single property or structure.

Since the general area in which I live is still in "transition" (read, a bit rough, yet) we are pursuing individual landmarking. Once we establish ourselves and can build support, well go for the preservation district designation. Were also looking into the register for each property (there are 5 of us).

RE: Are you glad you landmarked your house ?

Although everything says "national", a lot of the rules and procedures are local - so it is good you are working with someone in your area. At least in my state, getting listed on the register is a lot more than a stamp saying the house is old. It makes you eligible for 30% preservation tax credits. That takes a big sting out of construction costs.
I'm also in a historic district and boy do they have some rules! I had to amend my COA application twice to get some house numbers approved. I'm all for accuracy, but when you are in a long term kitchen renovation, it is critical that the pizza guy be able to see your address from the street. :)

RE: Are you glad you landmarked your house ?

I live in a small town, but the city has an official Landmarks Commission, a requirement for the city to qualify as a Certified Local Government (just one of many requirements). In my 8 years on the HLC, we "got done" two historic resource surveys, which resulted in the adoption and listing of the city's second National Register Historic District. An earlier district had been passed before I got there, which was comprised of the main downtown area (where I live, in a "contributing" structure!) but we recognized the need to complete the resources surveys for the entire town area. The first district we chose to do was the less-priviledged neighborhoods of working-class housing. We took the presumption that the "good side of town" could wait, as there were fewer threats and encroachments pending. We were glad we did. The research showed that our target area contained the very oldest settlements and structures in the town. Dating to decades before the town was officially founded, in fact.
We used a very capable and enthusiastic research consultant to survey, mine out the veins of materials, and write the nomination based on the narrative history of the settlement patterns, etc. It proved to be a great investment, as the town has published a walking tour brochure for the Old Town District to complement the Downtown and "Nob Hill" tours.
After I became a member emeritus, the HLC concluded the nomination process for the third NatRegDist.

RE: Are you glad you landmarked your house ?

YES - From My understanding, the local level distinctions provide far more protections than national. The area in which I live was the country where the wealthy would spend the summer. There was a new Park (now part of one of only 5 remaining in-tact Olmstead designed park systems in the US.) and the streetcar line came out and turned around just a block away from my home.

Thanks for sharing your valuable experiences. I am moving ahead, but dang, I wish I could get more neighbors on board.

RE: Are you glad you landmarked your house ?

Much to my chagrin, the national register does not afford much protection. My town has a large historic district - over 100 buildings on the register. Alas, this did not stop a property owner from last month applying vinyl siding and a hideous "accent" paint color to one of the most prominent places in town, largely obscuring the historic architectural details of the building.

There is also a local register and a number of the building bear a plaque identifying the original owners and date of construction. However, in my town, this again only identifies the buildings as having some architectural and local significance - there is no protection built in.

I often hear horror stories about historic commissions making it nearly impossible to make ANY changes to a building, and as much as I love old houses, I do not think they should have that much authority. At the same time, the opposite issue can be a problem.

So.... experiences really run the gamut.

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