If the members of the congregation who make decisions about the fate of the church building have their way, this lovely little Queen Anne church on South Sixth Street may soon be covered with vinyl siding. Earlier today, Lisa Durfee took concern for the building public on Facebook. According to Dina Palin, whose house is next door to the church, the church fathers claim to have all their "approvals" and signed a contract this afternoon. Work is scheduled to begin in two weeks.
The church is in a locally designated historic district. So where was the Historic Preservation Commission in all this? Circumvented, it would seem.
In May, Palin told me that the church was discussing putting vinyl siding on the building to eliminate the perpetual problem of peeling paint and the perpetual task of repainting. I assured her that the building was in a historic district and such a project would require a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission. After speaking with Palin, I contacted the HPC to let them know what was being contemplated. Tom Swope, chair of the Historic Preservation Commission, responded, telling me that the church had come before the HPC last year with their proposal to put vinyl siding on the church. The HPC had discouraged them and had not granted them a certificate of appropriateness. The church has not appeared before the HPC again since that time. Whatever "approvals" the project has, it does not have the essential approval for a building in a historic district: a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission.
For the past few weeks, this display has been installed in the side yard of the church. It's meant, presumably, to demonstrate the vinyl siding contactor's ability to replicate the authentic fabric and detail of the church (note the vinyl shingles under the little window in the picture) and to reassure the congregation and the community that the church with vinyl siding will look almost the same as it does today. Sadly, even this picture reveals that the difference between what is authentic and the vinyl imitation is unacceptably great.