Monday, December 17, 2012

Preservation Watch

On Friday morning, four applications for certificates of appropriateness were presented to the Historic Preservation Commission. Two were unanimously approved; the approval of one was postponed pending submission of a current photograph; one was tabled until the project could be reviewed by code enforcement. 

The first application was for new signage at 624 Warren Street, the location of James Male's new real estate office, HOUSE. The proposed signage was unanimously approved.

The second application was for facade restoration of 410 Warren Street, soon to be the new location of White Whale. The proposed renovations, which for now are limited to the ground floor storefront, involve bringing the facade back to what was originally there. The plan is to remove the double hung windows to restore the symmetry. The owner of the building, Lynn Ribar, and the project contractor told the HPC that original details--including an arched window and brackets--are still intact beneath elements that had been added, probably in the second half of the 20th century. Although the application was accompanied only by a sketch of the restored facade instead of the required elevation drawings, the HPC decided to accept it as complete, since the project involved removing material to expose original material rather than constructing something new, and voted unanimously to approval it.

The third application was for the installation of an entrance in the facade at 702 Columbia Street. The proposal is to remove the last window at the left of this storefront and install double doors similar to the ones at the far right of the building, to make the left side mirror the right side. 

A concern was raised by HPC architect member Jack Alvarez that the doors proposed would not be in compliance with ADA requirements because the width of each door was less than 32 inches. Since ADA compliance is a concern of code enforcement not historic preservation, the HPC decided to table the application until the project has gotten approval from code enforcement. 

The final application was to add a portico to the main entrance of 127 Union Street. The house, which was originally built in about 1805 and is thought to be the work of master builder Barnabus Waterman, started out as a Federal style house. Over the years, Greek Revival and Victorian elements have been added to the house until today, as its owner Nick Haddad described it, the house has "no real architectural standard." 

Haddad presented a elevation drawing of the portico in position on the house and a photograph of a house in Maine whose portico had inspired the design of the one proposed. He explained that the salvaged brackets that will be used on the proposed portico are identical to those seen on the Maine house.

The HPC accepted application but put off voting on its approval because HPC member Peggy Polenberg wanted to see a current picture of the house before making a decision about the appropriateness of the design of the proposed new element. HPC chair Rick Rector said he would take the photograph himself and email it to HPC members, so they would have it in hand before the next meeting.

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