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preserving historic status


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I donated some time to help a church decide if an old house could be made habitable. Their goal is to use the house as a shelter for battered women.

They say if they can get the house occupied in conjunction with a label of historic stature, then qualifications for grants of some type exist,

Aside from the issues I found with the home that need attention and the general need for a renovation, there are questions about how current modifications (additions) from the original design might affect its historical status. Also, if renovations are carried out, there are questions about how they might affect the historical status.

They are trying to decide if they should demolish this house and start over or preserve it to take advantage of its historical value with regard to grant qualification.

How do modifications and renovations affect a homes historical value? Do any of you have leads that I can provide this group so they can get advice on how to proceed?

I've given them these so far.

http://www.preservemd.org/index.html

http://www.habitat.org

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I'm not an expert in historic preservation. But it seems to me that the church has two divergent goals. The work that would be necessary to make the house into an effective shelter would be antithetical to the work that would be necessary to preserve its historic value.

Every time I deal with a church as a customer, they have dopey ideas like this one. (and then they "forget" to pay me) They're worse than condo associations.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Unless the house has some historical significance, was part of the underground railroad for instance, or is located within a designated historic district it's just plain old. Applying for registry takes years, and as has been said may end up preventing the church from using it as intended. At a minimum, the complexities of complying with preservation requirements combined with the accessability and safety requirements for it's intended occupancy would negate any funds gained through the grants.

Now as to tearing it down or not; every board, nail and screw in that building has the potential to be either equity or a liability. Carefully weighing that against the capital and capability of the congregation will give you the answer to that question. Do they have the means to fund a new building? Do they have the man power and the skills to retrofit what they have? Do they understand what's involved in either of those options? Personally, I'd hand over my donated report and forget about the rest.

Tom

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The adaptive reuse of a Historic Building is encouraged if it means saving it from the wrecking ball, but the biggest problem with that house may be getting it approved for use as a group home.

To get it registered, you want to start with your state State Historic Preservation Officer (probably someone in your State Historic Society). There are people for hire that can run you thru the process, or someone that has a lot of free time on their hands can do it. Any building 50 years or older can be on the Register. If no one or anything famous is attached to this house, then the style may be the reason for entry. Their tearing down old "Vernacular" farm houses so quickly that many of the younger generation know little of how our forefathers lived or what they lived in.

Local government may require so many sq ft per person, fire walls, fire escapes, fire sprinklers and a host of other safety items as to render this building only able to house one family.

A group in our church just went through this and after much treasure and sweat was not able to open the shelter because of the reasons above.

As for "Butt-Ugly", open the front porch up, pull the met/vin siding and rejuvenate the clapboards, proper windows and you have a nice little farm house again.

Ezra Malernee

Canton, Ohio

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The difference between churches and condo associations is that the condo associations pay you.

Eventually. It takes a Zen like patience to deal with condo associations. But, I've found it to be a lucrative and excellent revenue stream. It just takes a while to get it going.

And, I charge hourly. They want me to hold their hands through the whole project, I'm there.

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