By Paul Simo
The Grant Park Neighborhood Association (GPNA) Homes & History Committee is dedicated to our historic environment and helping the public better understand what goes into living in a designated historic neighborhood.
In last month’s Porch Press, we introduced three basic concepts to help all of us “A.C.E.” historic home ownership: Accountability, Creativity and Education. This month we’ll take a closer look at the first of these areas, Accountability.
Personal stewardship goes hand-in-hand with owning an older property (generally a home that is 50 years or older). Accountability to our homes becomes much more important for those of us in neighborhoods designated as a “historic district.” Grant Park, for example, is designated at both a local and a national level. Studies by the National Park Service, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Atlanta Preservation Center all confirm that properties considered contributing to historic districts (and cared for appropriately) grow in value at a healthier rate and that these districts as a whole retain value over other residential areas.
To help maintain these value-added benefits, there are design regulations in place at the local level. The Atlanta Urban Design Commission reviews renovation and construction projects to ensure the historic environment is kept intact. On the national level, district designation is much more of an honor with even greater responsibility placed on the homeowner. A district can lose its historic designation if too many properties in the area exhibit too many inappropriate fixtures such as replacement windows, inappropriate siding, or home additions that change the form and character of the house. Therefore, we are all accountable to each other to maintain the historic fabric of our community and maintain our property values.
For owners of, and contractors working on, existing or new construction within a local or National Historic Register District, the accountability involved goes beyond what you “can” do. Instead, when starting a project, ask yourself what “should” you do to your home. This will help you not only get a finished product that you will be proud of, but one that also respects the integrity of materials, intended interior floor plan, craftsmanship, and compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood. These facets make up the priceless resource you can continue to call a “historic” home. Your stewardship today will last to pass on to generations to come.
Accountability to Your Historic Environment
By Paul Simo