Friday, September 8, 2023

Watching the Apartments of Distinction

This morning, at the Historic Preservation Commission, HPC member Miranda Barry asked that they revisit the certificate of appropriateness granted to 501 Union Street, the building that once bore a sign reading "Apartments of Distinction." According to Barry, the building had, in the past day, been painted gray, and panels were being installed. The picture of the building below was taken early this afternoon.

Walter Chatham, the architect for the project, explained that the panels were part of the storefront, which had been approved by the HPC. They can be seen in these elevations. 

Chatham went on to say that the white/gray substance on the brick was not paint but a spray-on solution of lime and water used to even out the appearance of the brick. The masonry had to be repaired, particularly on the south side of the building where the fire escape had been removed, and, according to Chatham, "The client thought it looked terrible." ("The client" is likely to be Eric Galloway himself, since the building is owned by Galvan.) The lime wash was applied in an attempt to improve the building's appearance. Chatham maintained that the lime wash was meant to mask irregularities. Barry suggested that at least two coats had been applied, saying, "Yesterday it was blotchy white; today it is solid gray."

The building in April 2022, after the fire escape had been removed.
Victoria Polidoro, legal counsel to the HPC, read the following statement from the certificate of appropriateness granted in October 2022: "Original patina of brick shall be maintained." Code enforcement officer Craig Haigh told Chatham, "You are noncompliant. All work must cease until this is resolved." He added that the installation of the wood panels could continue because they had been approved.

Update: On Saturday morning, people were at work trying to remove the lime wash from the building while work on the storefront continued.

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