Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Is it really preservation? Let's call Midtown plan what it really is.

Our Director of Preservation Services, Katie Comeau, attended last week's press event where plans to proceed with the Midtown Plaza project were announced. We were excited to learn the tower structure will be re-purposed – that's a great 'green' strategy.

What struck us, however, was the variance in understanding of what constitutes the language of preservation and reuse, and the retention of historic fabric.

This proposal, in fact, still involves demolishing the atrium and clearing nearly all of a site deemed eligible for the National Register based on "exceptional significance," and will totally alter what is being saved (i.e. the tower will be brought down to the structural steel – retaining none of its historic fabric). Clearly the mall, as we know it is not being "renovated."

All of us, probably along with the entire western New York region, hope this project turns out to be great for the revitalization of the city, yet we remain conflicted when we know that we are losing some unique opportunities to redevelop the atrium in particular. And, as educators, we want to make sure that we all speak the same language and should not blur our understanding of what constitutes 'preservation.' Preservation of this site would mean keeping the structural bones of the complex of buildings and modifying them through a restoration or adaptive reuse that respects its historic integrity.

Let's call this exciting new project what it is – new construction that incorporates structural elements from a previous construction.

Posted by Joanne Arany, executive director


Monday, October 26, 2009

Charles Mulford Robinson

Imagine my pleasant surprise--combined with some mortification for not knowing sooner--when I learned that one of the pioneers in urban planning and planning education was a Rochesterian. Charles Mulford Robinson was not only a pioneering urban planner who took the lead on plans for several American cities, but was also a leading planning theorist, journalist, and writer. He also was one of the first teachers of planning and community design-- a Professor of Civic Design at the University of Illinois.

Certainly, some of Robinson's ideas unfortunately reflect the prevailing discriminatory views of his time, but even though I would disagree with and discredit some of his planning ideas as a result, I think raising his name from obscurity can serve as a great conversation-starter about community planning, design, and development--topics that more people need to be talking about more often!

A Wikipedia page for Robinson gives a decent overview:

And this excellent, detailed post from my former hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia gives a solid overview and critique of Robinson's ideas:

Robinson is buried in Rochester's famous Mount Hope Cemetery.

I have only once heard Robinson included in a list of prominent and important Rochesterians. Hence, I have a(nother) new crusade: to make sure Rochester and the planning profession know about Charles Mulford Robinson! Including him on oft-spoken lists of prominent Rochesterians would not only honor his work, but again, get people thinking and talking about important community planning and design concepts and issues!

I wonder if Robinson is included in the popular and fascinating Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery walking tours. I will find out...

Thankfully, there's no shortage of information about Charles Mulford Robinson and his work on that amazing universe we call the internet. Try a search...

by Evan Lowenstein

Evan is the Coordinator of the RochesterCityLiving program at the Landmark Society.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Historic Preservation is not just about landmark designation…..

It is environmental planning, sustainability and healthy living

Last week I attended the Monroe County Land Use Workshop on Historic Preservation for Municipalities. It was refreshing to see professionals echoing the same sentiments that we deal with in our office every single day!

To me, this workshop was fascinating as it reinforced my ideologies about preservation and how it is not just about preserving a beautiful building, but also is a commitment to protect our built environment through sustainable practices and philosophies.

We are often asked if we designate buildings and help the owners in getting a landmark status. It’s a common misconception that we are the prime authority involved in the designation of a building just because our name is The Landmark Society. Actually, this is a federal procedure! We can surely help the building owners achieve this designation through our expertise and guidance. We try to work with people in our community as often as we can. This is something that was echoed by both the speakers that preservation is a communal effort and how each one of can us contribute towards it.

Amy Facca, preservation planner in the Field Services Bureau of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (SHPO), was the first speaker. She talked about historic preservation as a field and its perception in the general public, as well as an identification of who’s who in the field and federal, state and local laws. It seems that many share similar first impressions of historic preservation – that we’re just a group of people appealing to save a building at the eleventh hour. Amy explained it’s extremely hard to understand the complexity and boundaries of preservation since it’s a new field in the United States. She shared that preservation is not just the work of a professional, but also the responsibility of every citizen who cares for his/her community and its character. I totally understood her sentiment as I deal with it on a regular basis…this is perhaps the reason we work with communities and their individual preservation boards.

As examples, Amy mentioned various case studies in NY where innovative methods and techniques have been used. Each project highlighted key principles ranging from grassroots approaches to highly-innovative marketing strategies to promote community and economic revitalization. She concluded with a quote from famous preservation economist Donovan Rypkema: “Any community can duplicate your community’s water lines, industrial park or tax rate; no community can duplicate your historic and other place- based resources.” I think this very well summarizes our advocacy efforts!

Jayme Breschard, senior planner with the Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council presented an interesting perspective about the inter-disciplinary and multifarious nature of the field of historic preservation. I am very much in sync with this thought process as I feel preservation is inherently sustainable and all our efforts should be directed in promoting this awareness.

Her talk focused on local historic preservation legislation and three prime principles of preservation— green building, environmental planning and quality of life. She presented very novel case studies from the local communities of western New York and how they each incorporated historic preservation towards a common goal of protecting community resources.

One of the best examples she gave was the story of the Palmyra Elementary Walking Route to Education and Wellness. This project involved construction of sidewalks, installation of bike racks and educational materials to encourage walking/biking to school. She also mentioned the Green Brighton Task Force- an initiative taken by the Town of Brighton to consider regulatory amendments to incorporate green principles and incentives to protect the existing housing stock of the neighborhood.

She had a very fascinating case study about South Shore Bay Houses in Long Island, which were floating homes, traditionally used as a shelter for fishermen. They were remnants of vernacular architecture of the region and were intrinsic to the cultural value of this area. She explained how such a project could be a part of the larger goal of preservation. She concluded her talk with various strategies used by different communities towards historic preservation planning and reasons for their success.

Overall, it was a thought provoking session exemplifying how preservation is a part of our daily lives and how we breathe in our built environment every single day of our lives!

Posted by Nimisha Thakur, Preservation Associate

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

2009 Political Poll Results

In just a couple of weeks, we'll be heading to the polls. Wondering how your local candidates view historic preservation, downtown development, and other important issues? Check out our Candidate Questionnaire! We asked all candidates for county and city office, as well as for selected town offices, to answer a few questions about issues we think are especially important. Find out how they answered.

Posted by Katie Eggers Comeau, Director of Preservation Services


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

See the spirits for yourself...

The ghosts have voices!!

Check out this awesome photo/video slideshow done by CITY Newspaper's Kathy Laluk.

Ghost Walk continues this weekend, October 23 & 24. More information here.

Thanks Kathy and CITY!

Posted by Laura Keeney Zavala, Director of Marketing

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Nashville whirlwind

I'm back from Nashville, where I spent most of last week at the National Trust's annual conference. Despite the miserable weather, it was a great week of catching up with colleagues, meeting new people, seeing some of the sights of Nashville, and being inspired by what our counterparts around the nation are doing. I came back with lots of new ideas and look forward to putting some of my new knowledge to work!

A few highlights:

* Music everywhere! Nashville makes the most of its status as "Music City" - and when it comes to heritage tourism, music is a great theme that is relevant to their history, the present, and the future. The Trust integrated music into the conference, starting off the opening and closing plenary sessions as well as special lectures with musical performances. I especially loved hearing the Fisk Jubilee Singers before the closing plenary. (Left: The Fisk Jubilee Singers at the incredible, Egyptian Revival Downtown Presbyterian Church)

* Sustainability, likewise, was everywhere - the Trust is hard at work to ensure that preservation and sustainability become linked in everyone's mind, not just the minds of us preservationists. I didn't get to Nashville in time to hear about the "Nashville Challenge," which involves aligning the preservation movement with nationwide sustainability efforts, but will be checking out follow-up materials about it. Educational sessions, field visits, and special lectures on the topic throughout the week ensured that we all got the message!

* The Parthenon - what can I say about this unusual local landmark. I visited as part of my overview bus tour of Nashville, which was tremendously interesting and quite educational. Our wonderful guide, a longtime Nashville preservationist, shared her insights about about various zoning techniques used to protect many neighborhoods, and it was interesting to see how these techniques are playing out. We visited Fisk University, saw "music row" (the center of the business side of the music business), circled the magnolia-lined perimeter of the not-bus-friendly Vanderbilt University campus, toured revitalizing neighborhoods, and stopped at the Parthenon for a tour and snacks. In case you aren't familiar with this Nashville site, it is a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Athens, constructed of plaster for Tennessee's Centennial Exposition in 1897 and rebuilt in concrete in the 20th century when the building had proved too beloved to be taken down with the other temporary exhibit buildings. Inside is a 42-foot statue of Athena, intended to replicate the one in the original Parthenon. (Left: The Parthenon, of course!)

* My session on local advocacy, held at 8:30 Saturday morning (yikes) was gratifyingly well attended for such a crummy time slot, and I thought it went very well. Rhonda Sincavage of the National Trust's policy department moderated; my fellow panelists were Mike Buhler of the Los Angeles Conservancy and Michelle Kimball of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans. Despite our cities' very different sizes, geographical locations, and challenges, we found a lot of common themes in our approaches to advocacy. It was an interesting discussion to participate in, and I hope our audience enjoyed it and learned something! (Left: Michelle Kimball, me, Mike Buhler, and Rhonda Sincavage)

* The Hermitage was one of three sites I visited on a tour highlighting "Preservation Leadership Case Studies." We saw three models: the Hermitage (Andrew Jackson's beloved home) is run by a very longstanding nonprofit organization; we visited 20th century historic house that was recently acquired by a greenways commission and will be rehabbed for a park use; and also toured an 1850s mansion owned by the city that is in need of some TLC and a more viable use. (Left: Visiting the Rachel and Andrew Jackson gravesite at The Hermitage)

* Laura Bush was the speaker at the annual Advocacy Luncheon; she talked about the Preserve America and Save America's Treasures programs, which she championed as First Lady. She told the assembled preservationists, "Whatever you're doing, you're making sure that future generations of Americans can enjoy the natural and historic treasures of our nation." (Left: Laura Bush at the Advocacy Luncheon)

* The Preservation Action auction and party, held at B.B. King's on Friday night, was fun, as always! I am a former PA intern and always happy to support this great cause. They are part of a coalition advocating for full funding of the Historic Preservation Fund, which supports critical preservation activities such as Section 106 review of federally funded projects, the National Register of Historic Places program, preservation grants, state preservation plans, and much more. Please read more about it and find out what you can do to help this important effort.

* The candlelight house tour featured East Nashville neighborhoods that reminded me of Corn Hill: wonderful 19th-century architecture; a legacy of terrible blight in the mid-20th century; renewal since the 1960s as houses have been rehabilitated. Unlike Corn Hill, they have also had to contend with an unusual string of disasters: a devastating fire in 1916 cut a wide swath through the neighborhood (its path visible today by the presence of bungalows rather than Queen Annes), followed by terrible tornadoes in 1933 and 1998 that similarly destroyed and damaged thousands of houses. (Left: One of the houses on the house tour)

* At the annual Preservation Awards Ceremony on Thursday evening, my favorite college professor, the incomparable Vincent Scully, received the Louise Crowninshield Award, the National Trust's highest award for lifetime achievement. As part of the ceremony, the speakers noted that many people were inspired to enter the preservation field by taking his classes, and I am one of those people. I took two of his classes, and could never get enough of his animated delivery, his incredible comparisons, and his awe-inspiring insights about architecture, nature, and humanity. It was a bittersweet moment, however, because Professor Scully was unable to attend due to ill health. (Left: The awards ceremony)

* Of course, it wasn't all tours and parties - I spent most of my time in educational sessions, which were informative and stimulating, as always. My favorite was a session titled "Preserving Housing in Low-Income Neighborhoods," where Brent Runyon, executive director of Thomasville Landmarks, and Amy Kissane, executive director of the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation, described programs in which v0lunteers rehabilitate houses in low-income historic neighborhoods. The programs are exciting, and the before and after photos are impressive! I also learned a lot in sessions on the recent past, the Trust's "Green Lab," providing effective field services, and more.

My trip was partially funded by a Partners National Preservation Conference Travel Grant, and I am so grateful for the National Trust for this assistance.

I brought back a huge pile of materials, notes, and brochures, and as I make my way through them, I hope to share more details on some of the most relevant information and ideas.

Posted by Katie Eggers Comeau, Director of Preservation Services


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Live from Nashville

I'm in Nashville this week at the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Annual Conference. It's exciting to have a chance to visit a city I might never have been to otherwise, although truth be told, I haven't seen much of it yet! I arrived in the rain late yesterday afternoon, attended a reception in the hotel last night, spent the day (rainy again) in training sessions in the hotel, and finally ventured out late this afternoon to go to the Opening Plenary Session at the historic Ryman Auditorium, the "mother church of country music."

After a few songs by a local singer/songwriter, we heard some news about new and continuing National Trust initiatives, and then our two keynote speakers took the stage. Dame Fiona Reynolds, director general of the National Trust in England, spoke about her organization's programs in the sustainability arena, particularly their efforts to connect locally grown, seasonal food with a larger ethic of more sustainable living at their historic sites. She noted that western nations, whose lifestyles over the past 50 years have been so negatively impacting our global climate, need to change our ways and begin living in a more responsible, sustainable way, "and to help us, we have a recession." With the recession, people are finally starting to rethink the need to constantly buy more things, and are seeking out simpler, authentic activities to connect them with family and community - perfectly playing into our interests.

The second keynote speaker was author Bill McKibben, who talked about climate change and the need for immediate action to reduce emissions. He made the interesting point that climate threatens culture as well as the environment, in that our connection to past events and cultural patterns is certain to change. As an example, he pointed to Vermont, where he said forecasts indicate that by the end of the century there will be no more snow; how will we relate to Robert Frost's poetry about snowy New England woods when the New England woods have no more snow? He also showed us a short video from the Maldives, where the land is just a few feet about sea level; with rising sea levels, their entire country may cease to exist. Bill is involved in the organization, which is planning worldwide actions on October 24 to demand global action to combat this threat to our planet and our culture.

After the plenary session, I headed to the opening reception, held at an Art Deco post office converted into a gorgeous art museum, where I caught up with colleagues from the Trust and other organizations and met new people as well.

Tomorrow's schedule includes an overview bus tour of Nashville (I hope the skies clear so I can actually SEE Nashville by then!), the annual advocacy luncheon (Laura Bush is this year's keynote speaker), and afternoon sessions on sustainability and modern resources, followed by an evening candlelight tour of houses in East Nashville.

The National Trust is offering opportunities to be a "virtual attendee" of several sessions - check out their website to find out how!

Posted by Katie Eggers Comeau, Director of Preservation Services
(Photos: A view of Nashville "honkytonks," from the hotel; and the historic Ryman Auditorium after the plenary session.)


I've got sunshine on a cloudy day....

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm not ready for winter's chill to be upon us. I suspect I'm not alone....? Yet sometimes, despite our best wishes, ol'Mother Nature decides to just do her own thing. (Was that hail/snow we saw outside of the Hoyt-Potter House this morning on the way into work? Oh, I sure hope not.) I'm wrapped up with an afghan as I type this, coveting the warm mug of coffee next to me. It makes a nice handwarmer!

This is simply a post to say hi and bring you some reminders of blue skies and warmer temps through the brilliance of sunflowers. Something about them just makes me smile! I took these snapshots this a few weeks back while out at our Stone-Tolan House Museum on a gorgeous day. They're part of the kitchen garden still growing out there with heirloom plants. Quite incredible, actually. You can read about Stone-Tolan here.

Just as we all need to add extra layers and get ready for the cold, so do our older homes. I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you about the wealth of resources we have available on our website to help you learn how to best winterize your home. There's also expert advice and experience for do-it-yourself care of your older home to be had at Your Old House workshops, starting next week!

So please keep warm and enjoy this hot cocoa weather. And if the gray skies and chill become a little too much, come back to look at photos of sunflowers. I bet you'll smile!

posted by Laura Keeney Zavala, Director of Marketing


Monday, October 5, 2009

“You got to know what you are selling”- Cynthia Howk

Marketing Historic Homes Successfully- GRAR class

How many times have we seen a real estate advertisement of a historic house with a style listed as colonial but it is actually a bungalow? In the words of Cynthia Howk, the architectural research coordinator with the Landmark Society of Western New York, “I can bet 9 out of 10 times.”

If you want to sell a historic house, you should know the history of the house, the place, and the style and have a genuine interest in learning about historic architecture and its intricacies. This was the crux of the realtor class “Marketing Historic Homes Successfully” organized by GRAR at their headquarters on September 24th, 2009. This class was a day long affair divided into two sessions before lunch, followed by a quick talk on “what style is it?” and a tour of the east side neighborhoods of the city in the afternoon. This is a semi- annual class organized by GRAR twice a year on two consecutive Thursdays in September and April. With this class, realtors can earn up to 15 continuing education credits.

The instructor for the class was our famed Cynthia Howk, with over 30 years of experience in local history and preservation planning under her belt. Interestingly enough, many participants have attended this class more than once; many of them mentioned that they learn something new from Cynthia each time they take the class.

Cynthia mentioned how Landmark Society was started by the efforts of Helen Ellwanger and since then for over 70 years has been instrumental in saving the landmarks of this area including Campbell Whitelesey house, City Hall, Roycroft Inn in East Aurora (a project with Landmark Society for 18 months but stretched to 8 years) and many more such jewels.. In addition, the Landmark Society offers professional services in the field of preservation planning including natio nal register nominations and historic resources surveys. Besides that we hold annual house and garden tour and many more educational events for the general public to create awareness about Rochester’s history and architecture.

After this primer, Cynt
hia took us on a whirlwind ride of the history of upstate New York. She suggested we all drop the word “Colonial” from our architectural vocabulary. We need use it only if we are talking about the period before 1783, when United States was a colony of Great Britain.
During the early 1800’s most Americans lived within 50 miles of a major water body. At that time there was only one main road in all of New York State. With the opening of the Erie Canal tens and thousands of im
migrants came to Western New York making Rochester one of the first boomtowns in 19th Century America. In the 1830’s and 1840’s Rochester was known as the “Flour City” as it was able to transport the ground flour from its mills along the banks of the Genesee River to cities and towns near and far via the Erie Canal.

Cynthia talked about the metamorphosis of Rochester starting with Flour city to the Flower city in mid 1850’s with the rise of horticulture industry. Following the Civil War began the gilded age and the phenomenon of grand avenues in American cities. Ellwanger and Barry started their first trolley line in the 1860’s. Next in the line was the industrial revolution, with Rochester’s biggest employer being the Cunningham Company, maker of luxury carriageways. By the time Cunningham went out of business in the 1940’s there were new industrial giants like Bausch and Lomb, Eastman Kodak and Hickey Freeman. All these businesses and people defined the architectural and physical development of 20th Century Rochester and made the city what it is today.

Following Cynthia Howk’s presentation, Steve Jordan talked about doing a visual inspection of a historic house. Steve has over 30 years of experience in historic preservation, is a graduate of Cornell University and specializes in window restoration. He started his talk with macro issues like site planning and then got into details like materials, gutters, painting and siding. He showed wonderful slides of historic houses explaining common problems and ways to correct them.
After Steve’s ta
lk, there was long lunch break and then Cynthia talked about 19th century house styles. She said style has nothing to do with the materials, number of storeys or the size of the house. Just like clothing or automobiles, buildings also have a style.
She spoke about styles in a chronological manner beginning with Federal style, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Italian
ate and Queen Anne. She also debunked the myth associated with the use of the word “Victorian” when discussing architecture. There is no “Victorian” style, rather it is a period of history that refers to the reign of England’s Queen Victoria from the 1840s to the early 1900s.

After this enriching talk was the much awaited bus tour of various east side neighborhoods of the city with a narration by Cynthia. We started with the mansions of East Avenue and then headed into Downtown.

Our first stop
was much acclaimed Rochester Savings Bank, designed by the preeminent architecture firm of the early 20th century McKim, Mead & White with the local architect J. Foster Warner. After that we rode along Andrews Street, the old clothing district of Rochester and then on to the various residential districts of the city.

Next stop: Corn Hill, the city’s oldest neighborhood with its interesting mix of Greek revival, Italianate and Italianate villa styled houses. We also visited many other interesting neighborhoods like Upper Monroe and the funky Park Ave neighborhood’s “A-B-C” streets. Cynthia mentioned how fascinating it is to learn how the streets got their names and what they can tell us about the history of the community.

She also pointed us to the one and only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house in Rochester as well as the Neighborh
ood of the Arts and the Grove Place neighborhood. At Grove Place we explored the eclectic mix of contemporary townhouses and beautifully crafted historic townhouses along Selden Street. The second part of this class was held on October 1st and involved follow up talks on 20th century architectural styles, how to research your historic house and an overview on landmark designations. In addition, University of Rochester professor emeritus Jean France spoke about the architects of Rochester. A bus tour of the remaining neighborhoods of Rochester completed the session and the class until next spring.

If you missed the
class this Fall, be sure to register for next session in spring as it is the most educational class you will ever attend. This program was extremely informative, fascinating, one of a kind experience for anyone interested in the local history of our area.

Posted by Nimisha Thakur, Preservation Associate

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Finally - Get money for rehabbing your house!

Last night, I attended the first information session on the new NYS Residential Rehabilitation Tax Credit program, hosted by Assemblyman Sam Hoyt and a slew of preservation organizations in Buffalo. Staff from the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (also known as SHPO) presented information about how the credit works, who can take advantage of it, and the process to do so. We'll have a similar session in Rochester soon, but in the meantime, I thought I'd pass along the basics.

First, who qualifies? This is a program for owner-occupied housing only - no rental properties. The house must be listed in the National Register of Historic Places (either individually listed or in a district) and must be located in a census tract where the median income is at or below 100% of the State Median Family Income. It doesn't matter what the homeowner's personal income is, just what the average is for the tract. I have a list of census tracts in Monroe County that qualify and can also find out whether your house is listed in the National Register; so far I know that parts of Maplewood and Browncroft qualify, as well as all of the Susan B. Anthony District. I haven't seen a map yet, but I suspect parts of the South Wedge and Mt. Hope neighborhoods will also qualify. There are other neighborhoods in the city that are eligible for the National Register but have not yet gone through the designation process, and would be able to take advantage of the credit if they did so.

Most of the rest of Monroe County does not qualify under the income requirement, but large portions of the other counties in our service area do. At last night's workshop, SHPO displayed helpful maps that illustrated exactly which areas are eligible, and we'll make that available for Rochester as soon as we can.

To take the credit, it isn't enough just to live in the house - you have to do at least $5,000 worth of work. SHPO staff must review the proposed work in advance to let you know if it meets the standards. At least 5% of that work has to be on the exterior; that can include roofing, painting, chimney work, and many other projects (but not landscaping or fences). Interior work can include almost anything from floors to ceilings. One type of project that would not qualify would be installation of vinyl windows; replacement windows could be covered if the existing windows are inappropriate, missing, or truly beyond repair, but the replacement windows would have to be appropriate to the building, and SHPO staffers were quite clear that vinyl windows would not be considered appropriate.

Keep in mind that this is a rehabilitation program, not a restoration program - the difference is that while restoration is about returning a building to its historic appearance rehabilitation has to do with keeping significant historic features while adapting the building to modern use. This means that you won't be required to bring back missing features or turn your house into a museum!

The credit will cover 20% of the cost of the rehab - so for a $5,000 project, you'd get to take $1,000 off of your state income taxes. The credit maxes out at $50,000 per project, so if you are spending more than $250,000 on your project, you'll only (!) get to take $50,000 - but note that this is per project; SHPO staff seemed to think a project could be broken up into multiple projects so that homeowners can take the credit more than once. Homeowners may spread the credit out over multiple years if their tax liability is not high enough for them to get the credit, or owners whose income is less than $60,000 can take the credit as a rebate.

One of the most interesting questions at the workshop last night had to do with a house that, in its current condition, would not be considered National Register eligible. This homeowner would like to take the credit for work such as porch repairs, asbestos siding removal, and window repair that would return it to its historic appearance. When the property is complete, it should be eligible for National Register designation, but can this homeowner take the credit given that the property is not now eligible? SHPO staff couldn't answer definitively, but I certainly hope that they will be able to work with owners in this situation, since this is exactly the type of project that this program should support. Removal of vinyl siding and/or reversal of other inappropriate alterations from one house can be a catalyst for similar projects throughout a neighborhood.

The process for obtaining the credit is pretty simple. There is a three-part application: part 1 asks the homeowner to list basic contact information and the location of the house, as well as answer a few simple questions that will help SHPO staff determine whether the house qualifies. In Part 2, the homeowner describes the house and any past alterations, describes the proposed work, and provides photographs of the house, as well as drawings of any new construction or alterations. Part 3 is completed after the work is done, and certifies that the work was completed as proposed. The owner must provide photographs of the completed work.

Projects can't be complete until January 1, 2010 (projects now underway that won't be done until January may qualify - contact SHPO to discuss) and the program is scheduled to sunset in 2014.

SHPO has a brochure about the credit and the application form online.

This program has the potential to be a great tool for revitalization, both in our existing National Register districts and in those that qualify but have never been designated. If you'd like more information about how to get started on your own project, get your community to qualify, or spread the word in your neighborhood, please give me a call!

Posted by Katie Eggers Comeau, Director of Preservation Services