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A.C.E. Historic Home Ownership

By Paul Simo
Any neighborhood where people invest time, talent, and pride into both their own property and toward larger social ideals is transformed into a true “community.” This is especially true in our intown, locally designated historic neighborhoods and in our overlapping National Register Historic Districts.
Here, even greater stewardship is expected from individual homeowners to preserve the historic fabric and special character of our neighborhoods. We must understand the irreplaceable value of owning and maintaining such incredible pieces of history – our homes. If each of us takes the time to care for the piece of the mosaic we call a historic district, it will keep the overall environment intact and property values rising for the next decades and beyond.
The Grant Park Neighborhood Association (GPNA) Homes and History Committee is dedicated to our historic environment and protecting the special character that has attracted most of us to our neighborhood. In the next couple of issues of the Porch Press, the GPNA Homes and History Committee will focus on three basic concepts to help all of us A.C.E. historic home ownership.
ACCOUNTABILITY. There’s a lot of responsibility in owning a historic or older property – generally homes that are 50 years old or older. At our committee level, we seem to hear a lot of “…but why can’t I?” Being accountable for the care and appearance of your home not only raises your property value, it contributes to the overall environment, and helps everyone’s perception of the neighborhood. It is also why we have historic design regulations and Atlanta Urban Design Commission review, both of which can assist and provide guidance for projects large and small.
CREATIVITY. This isn’t the suburbs of post-WWII “generica.” Your house probably wasn’t built by the same builder as your neighbor, or even in the same decade. Keep your funky home features; live smaller; work with contractors who know how to creatively solve problems, like making your old, original windows weather-tight again, instead of simply replacing them. If you want to expand, plan home additions that both work harmoniously with your existing historic home and as a contemporary expression of 2015. Yes, this all takes some creativity, but the end result can be something you love.
EDUCATION. If you own something that is a century old, it can stand for a century or two more. So, for the 5, 10, or even 20 years you are living in your house, it is up to you to learn how to care for it. Educate yourself on historic materials and home construction so you can maintain the integrity of your property. You will need to learn to do things differently and know that the salespeople and replacement industry contractors may not always have the best solution for your unique property. Look for more training courses and neighborhood forums later this year to help you, the homeowner, make your best decisions for your home.
Together, we can A.C.E. this.

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