Northeast corner of the Meade House in Symmes Township
HDC is leading a team that includes engineers from Elevar Design Group to prepare a feasibility study to rehabilitate the Meade House in Symmes Township into a banquet facility. The house was built in 1906 on an over 200-acre farm for Dr. Charles C. Meade, a homeopathic physician, Pulte Medical College of Cincinnati professor of obstetrics, Homeopathic Medical Society president, and former president and director of the Hamilton County Fair Board. Dr. Meade was born in Fort Branch, Indiana in 1862, the son of Stephen Walter Meade and his wife Sarah Jane Rutledge, who was of English descent. Dr. Meade graduated from Central Normal College at Danville, Indiana, in 1886 before earning a medical degree from Pulte Medical College in Cincinnati in 1890. He went on to post graduate studies at the New York Post-Graduate School of Medicine and Surgery. As part of the teaching staff at Pulte College, Dr. Meade served as chair of embryology and junior obstetrics from 1898 to 1902. From 1902 to his retirement in 1905, he held a full professorship and oversaw both junior and senior obstetrics. Dr. Meade lived in this house with his second wife, continuing to assist neighbors with difficult births in his retirement. He sold the house in 1917 and moved to the Hyde Park neighborhood of Cincinnati.
(originally posted by Andy Sewell on January 6, 2015)
Yesterday marked the grand re-opening of the historic Stewart Elementary School in German Village, a project that Hardlines Design Company has worked hard to help Columbus City Schools complete. The renovated, 141-year-old building was redesigned to incorporate the latest technology and accomodate the needs of 21st-century schoolchildren, while retaining its historic character. Reviews of the school are positive, as evident from this article in the Columbus Dispatch:
“Kelly Graham grew up in German Village and attended Stewart from 1987 to 1994. (Her husband will not let her forget that he once defeated her in the Stewart Elementary spelling bee, even though he was a grade below her.)
Graham said she appreciates that the renovated building retains its old charm, with high ceilings, wood floors and huge windows that teachers can open on nice days.
“I think it will definitely have a positive effect,” said Graham, 31, an instructional assistant at Stewart with two children attending the school. “The kids are now excited to use it.”
A group of Hardlines employees tours Stewart Elementary School shortly before it opens. Company president Charissa Durst is in the foreground. Photo credit: Jeff Bates
(originally posted by Andy Sewell on April 15, 2014)
Welcome to Hardlines Design Company’s Spring 2014 update! As I write this, it sure doesn’t seem like spring, with snow on the ground and 30-degree temperatures, but that just exemplifies how the weather was a big factor in our projects during the last quarter, with numerous weather-related schedule modifications. Despite the weather, HDC archaeologists managed to complete two field projects; more on those in another post. Other updates of note include the following:
HDC Completes Work on Mulzer Mill Plaques for Highbanks Metro Park in Delaware, Ohio
HDC recently completed the design of two interpretive signs for the Ohio Department of Transportation, Office of Environmental Services (ODOT-OES). The signs were created to commemorate the site of the former Mulzer Mills and an associated house located near the intersection of State Route 315 (SR 315) and West Powell Road, at the northwest corner of Highbanks Metro Park in Delaware County. As part of a mitigation effort for the construction and alterations on this intersection, ODOT-OES agreed to install interpretative signs to commemorate the former mill complex, whose foundation ruins were sited within the construction zone. These signs will be erected along the walking path along the Olentangy River in Highbanks Metro Park.
HDC used historic and modern photographs and brief descriptions in the design of the signs to allow for the best possible user experience. Potential sign designs were reviewed and improved over a series of meetings with the public until the text, photographs, and overall design of the signs were approved. High-pressure laminate signs were chosen over the traditional bronze plaque, as they allowed for images and more detailed written descriptions of the site. After the design phase was completed, HDC was able to work with Fossil Industries, a high pressure laminate sign company operating in Deer Park, New York, to have the signs manufactured. Because of the low cost offered by the high pressure laminate versus bronze, an extra sign panel for each sign was delivered to Highbanks Metro Park to provide a spare in case a sign is vandalized or destroyed by an act of nature. The weather this winter has delayed the final installation of the signs, but Highbanks Metro Park will have the signs installed later this spring.
HDC CRM staff attend GAPP conference
HDC was well represented at the Gas and Preservation Partnership (GAPP) Conference, held in the ballroom of the Fairmont Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A historian and archeologist from HDC attended the conference, which is aimed at formulating a working partnership between historic preservation professionals and the oil and gas production industry. The boom in natural gas production in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania has resulted in a substantial increase in hydraulic fracturing. or “fracking’” projects. Because these projects are currently exempted from federal environmental permitting, fracking projects are not legally required take into account any impact to cultural resources. To address the concern of preservationists about the impact of fracking on cultural resources, GAPP hopes to create a voluntary “best practices” approach for the fracking industry to follow regarding the treatment of cultural resources without requiring additional government regulations. HDC will continue to stay appraised of this developing partnership, and will continue to work to preserve and document cultural resources, hopefully with the help and support of the oil and gas industry.
HDC’S Camp Perry Project Nears Completion
Construction on HDC’s project at four barracks buildings and the historic chapel at Camp Perry in Port Clinton, Ohio, is now nearing completion after a slowdown due to excessive cold. The project involved replacement of the asphalt shingle roof with metal, new metal soffit, fascia, gutters, and downspouts at two barracks; and replacement of existing siding, door, and windows at the other two barracks. Exterior work for the historic chapel consisted of washing, tuckpointing, and resealing the brick masonry, along with repair/replacement of fascia, soffits, steeple vents, exterior doors, and entry steps. Interior work included painting the chapel space as well as replacing the aisle carpet and refinishing the woodwork. HDC was also commissioned to prepared construction documents for a new HVAC system at two of the barracks, which would be bid at a later date when funding became available. Construction started in August of 2013 with construction completion in mid-April 2014.
Hard to Believe, but Donut the Beagle turned 10 Years Old on March 25!
This event almost slipped HDC’s collective mind if it wasn’t for an email from her vet reminding us of her birthday and upcoming vaccinations. The year 2004 went by very slowly with her weekly training classes and daily homework assignments, but once she stopped deliberately biting people, time seem to just speed by!
As you can see in her 2004 photograph, Donut was like a cartoon of a “cute puppy.” This image was once posted on the Daily Puppy website and one of the comments received was “with that face she could get away with murder!” Well, she did get away with biting everyone who touched her but luckily we were able to get her to stop after she was 7 months old. In her early photographs, many people also commented on the “wild animal” look in her eyes.
Like Bagle her predecessor, Donut started going gray at the age of 5 in 2009. However, Sadie the Beagle didn’t go gray until she was 10. Our theory is that beagles (dogs) who are smart and worry a lot go gray by age 5, and those that don’t think about things too much, like Sadie, keep their color until sheer age catches up with them. Donut definitely calmed down by the time she turned one, which led one engineer to comment that she was like a totally new dog. In this Christmas photograph, Donut definitely looks calm!
In 2013 Donut was taken to one of the Columbus Metroparks on nice weekend days. After the recent polar vortex winter, Donut started going to a park whenever the weather was sunny and over 40 degrees Fahrenheit. We’ve learned that it takes a couple of miles to take the edge off her and get her to stop pulling at the leash, and after 5 to 7 miles she’s happily tired and ready for a nap. In this photograph, Donut also needed a long bath to wash the melting snow/mud off her!
(originally posted by Andy Sewell on November 6, 2013)
Our quarterly update for Fall 2013 focuses on recent work we have done with historic buildings and historic districts. And of course, there’s a beagle update at the bottom!
HDC assesses the Canal Fulton Public Library’s moisture issues
HDC completed a moisture penetration assessment of the historic Canal Fulton Public Library, which received a grant from the Ohio Historic Preservation Office. The original building was constructed in 1879 as a residence known as the Sullivan-Held House. The library moved into the house in 1949 and built an addition in 1958. The library is a contributing element of the Canal Fulton Historic District, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on December 2, 1982. In 1992, the library constructed a second addition, and in 2003 underwent a complete renovation, along with the erection of a third addition. The Library commissioned HDC earlier this year to identify sources of ongoing moisture penetration and to provide recommendations and cost estimates to remediate the problems.
Canal Fulton Public Library, ca. 1882
HDC identified two active areas of active moisture penetration caused by improper installation of roofing materials in the previous renovations. In one area of the EPDM roof, improper slope caused water to pond, aggravated by improper roof drain locations and flashing details. In another area, EPDM roofing improperly overlapped an existing asphalt shingle roof, causing water to get under the shingles. Both of these problems could be easily remedied without adversely impacting the building’s historic features.
HDC also identified areas of excessive moisture content in the wooden siding, caused by too many coats of paint, as well as excessive humidity in the basement caused by an open crawl space. HDC also provided work recommendations and cost estimates for these items that followed the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.
National Register Nominations in Middletown, Ohio
For the past several months, HDC has been working with Downtown Middletown, Inc., to list a former railroad depot and two historic districts in the city of Middletown, Ohio, in the National Register of Historic Places. The former Big Four Depot National Register nomination was approved by the Ohio Historic Preservation Advisory Board (OSHPAB) at the end of September and was sent to the National Park Service for final approval. The Main Street Commercial Historic District nomination will create a new historic district in Middletown to encompass several historic buildings along Main Street including its intersection with Central Avenue. A revised draft of the nomination will be reviewed by the OSHPAB during their December meeting. The Central Avenue Historic District will create a new historic district comprised of more than 40 of Middletown’s historic commercial buildings. This nomination has been submitted to the Ohio Historic Preservation Office (OHPO) for their comments. After the OHPO’s comments are received and addressed, the Central Avenue Historic District nomination will be sent onto the OSHPAB for their approval as well. By listing these historically significant buildings and districts on the National Register, they will be granted some protections from federally funded and/or permitted projects, and the property owners can qualify for historic preservation tax credits. In addition, listing on the National Register assists downtown revitalization efforts by adding a sense of significance to the historic downtown, and can be a source of pride for the local community.
Donut L-O-V-E-S her Backyard!
Since the day she came home from the shelter at the age of 8 weeks, Donut has just been obsessed with the backyard. Where our previous beagle (Bagle) would head straight for her supper dish when she got home, Donut heads straight for the back door for a chance to run around in the yard. One side of the backyard is separated from a public walkway by only a chain link fence, so Donut can seen everyone (and every dog) who walks by and bark at them. We discovered long ago that Donut has a 30-foot turning radius (she fought every tie out length until she got 30 feet), and have avoided putting in raised garden beds that would interfere with her ability to get up to full speed.
Donut posing with sunflowers from [her] garden Donut posing with gardening tools
There are days when Donut will spend hours by herself outside, happily barking at passers-by and only coming in for a drink. Her favorite days are sunny cool days where she lays in the sun and soaks up the warm rays, but the ground is still cool enough to she won’t overheat. After an hour she flips over very slowly and does her other side.
(by Andy Sewell, originally posted July 1, 2013)
Stewart Elementary School Enters Main Phase of Construction
Stewart Elementary School is the oldest school still in operation in the Columbus City School District. The original building was constructed in 1874. The main entry was on Stewart Avenue and the building contained four classrooms on each of the two main floors. In 1894, an addition was constructed to the west that contained two classrooms on each floor. In the mid 1920s, the front entry stair was removed and the space made into two small rooms on each floor. The entry was moved to City Park and a second stair constructed at the connector between the 1874 and 1894 wings. In the 1950s, two small basement rooms under the original front entry were combined to form a large multi-purpose room with a small stage. At this time, the front entry was moved back to Stewart Avenue at the 1920s connector location.
In the summer of 2010, a fire damaged the southwest corner of the 1874 wing. In spring 2011, Columbus City Schools commissioned Hardlines Design Company to design the renovation and addition to Stewart Elementary School. The project proved to be quite a challenge. The building lies within the German Village Historic District, which is the oldest and, some would argue, the strictest of the City’s commissions. In addition, the District purchased land across Pearl Street for playgrounds and playing fields, which lies within the Brewery District Historic District. This project therefore had to be reviewed by both commissions, and special meetings had to be set up so both sets of commissioners could comment at the same time.
Another challenge was the funding. Schools funded by the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) are budgeted based on square footage, but without any concessions for building size; large schools are budgeted at the same per square foot cost as a smaller school. As a result, small schools are typically under budgeted, and Stewart Elementary School, at 350 students, is the smallest size school OSFC will consider funding. On top of all this, this project had the normal procedures of any urban school in the City of Columbus: zoning appeals, CC drawings reviews, and drawer E reviews for work in the right of way.
To maintain the construction schedule, HDC obtained approval from the German Village Commission to remove the connector between the 1874 and 1894 wings and issued an early demolition package, which was completed in spring 2013. HDC obtained certificates of appropriateness from both commissions along with all City review processes, and the main phase project is currently under construction with the goal of completion in time for the start of the 2014 school year.
Left: Stewart Elementary School before renovation. Right: Rendering of proposed addition
HDC Completes Zoar Historic Baseline Study for Corps of Engineers
The village of Zoar in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, holds a unique place in Ohio history. Founded in 1817 by a group of German Separatists fleeing religious persecution in Germany, Zoar is a well-preserved example of a nineteenth century communal society, with numerous surviving houses, buildings, and landscape features that illustrate the distinctive character of its inhabitants. The Society of Separatists of Zoar existed from 1817 to 1898, and was an agrarian communal society, with a small industrial component that produced raw material and finished products from natural resources and agricultural products. At their height in the mid-nineteenth century, the Separatists owned close to 12,000 acres and had over 300 members. They had two grist mills, a woolen factory, owned two iron furnaces, and operated sawmills. The Separatists played a role in the development of the Ohio & Erie Canal in the late 1820s, contracting to excavated 3 miles of the canal through their landholdings and building a lock and other components. Differing from other communal organizations like the Shakers, membership was largely limited to ethnic Germans, with very few non-Germans allowed to join the society. The Separatists were inward-looking, seeking to sustain their existing community rather than convert others to adopt their ways.
Zoar Garden House and Greenhouse
The historic value of Zoar was recognized early in the twentieth century, as residents took steps to preserve important landmarks, beginning with restoring the ornamental public garden in 1930. The community was threatened with inundation from the construction of Dover Dam during the 1930s as part of a massive flood control program in the Muskingum River watershed. However, the USACE was persuaded through public outpouring to protect Zoar with a massive earthen levee and an upstream diversion system, completed in 1938, rather than relocate the community as happened with other similar-sized villages in areas that would be in the new flood zone created by the dam. The village of Zoar may be the only such community protected because of its historical, rather than economical, significance. Portions of the village became a State Memorial in the 1940s, and the village was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.
Over the course of the last 75 years, the Zoar Levee and Diversion Dam has served its purpose well, protecting Zoar from periodic flooding episodes. However, recent events have revealed developing flaws in the levee system that must be addressed by the Huntington District of the Corps of Engineers. To find a long-term plan to reduce risk to Zoar, Huntington is currently preparing a Dam Safety Modification Report (DSMR) for the Zoar Levee and Diversion Dam in accordance Section 2033 of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2007, which among other things, requires Huntington to adopt a risk analysis approach to project cost estimates for water resource projects and ensure that the benefits and costs associated with structural and nonstructural alternatives are evaluated in an equitable manner. A building block of the DSMR is producing baseline studies of existing conditions at Zoar, including studies of environmental, societal, and historical factors. Huntington contracted Tetra Tech, Inc, to produce a historical property baseline study and a community impacts baseline study for the DSMR.
As a subcontractor to Tetra Tech, Inc, HDC completed the historic property baseline study for the Zoar Levee and Diversion Dam. The baseline study included exhaustive archival research to create an in-depth history of Zoar Village and its founders, the Society of Separatists of Zoar. The baseline study also examined the history of Zoar Village during the twentieth century. A survey of all above-ground resources within the 708-acre study area centered on Zoar Village collected information on 348 buildings, structures, and landscape features, along with three buildings and structures outside the study area confirmed to have Separatist associations. In addition, pre-contact and historical archaeology probability models were developed for the entire study area to aid in assessing project alternatives developed by the USACE.
As part of the this project, HDC also assessed the previous National Register documentation for the Zoar Historic District. The National Register assessment resulted in recommendations for a revised list of contributing resources, an expanded period of significance, and an expansion of the district boundary, although actually preparing a National Register update was not in the scope of the project. Meetings with consulting parties, stakeholders, and residents of the village took place in March 2013, with the baseline study documents completed at the end of June 2013.
HDC documents Columbus’ First Public Housing Project, Poindexter Village
Poindexter Village, located on Columbus’ near east side, is the city’s first public housing project. While not the first federally-funded public housing project in the nation (that honor goes to Techwood Homes in Atlanta), Poindexter Village is one of the earliest such projects built in Ohio. Construction of Poindexter Village began in 1939 at the site of “The Blackberry Patch,” a traditionally African American neighborhood near the Champion Avenue Public School and the Union Grove Baptist Church. The housing project was designed by the Columbus architectural firm of Richards, McCarty, and Bulford, and consists of 35 two-story buildings of multi-family housing, originally laid out in eleven blocks. The twelfth block (Block XII) was constructed in 1960 at the same time as Poindexter Tower.
Poindexter Village is considered to be historically significant for its association with the history and development of the Federal housing programs of the 1930s and 1940s. It is also associated with the early history and development of the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) and its efforts to provide safe, sanitary, and decent housing for low-income city residents as a result of the Depression-era housing reforms. In addition, Poindexter Village is significant for its association with the African American history of the east side of Columbus.
Poindexter Village was a bustling residential complex for years, but as the decades passed, the buildings within Poindexter Village began to show their age. While efforts were made to continually modernize the units, the expense to maintain and renovate the buildings began to outpace the ability to fund those projects. The CHMA has vacated the buildings and demolition of many of the buildings in Poindexter Village is currently underway to allow for redevelopment of the land.
Prior to commencement of demolition, the CMHA, in consultation with the City of Columbus and the Ohio Historic Preservation Officer (OHPO), developed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to mitigate the adverse effect caused by the demolition. In February 2013, the CMHA hired Hardlines to complete Stipulation II outlined in the MOA signed between the City of Columbus, CMHA, and the OHPO. Stipulation II required the documentation of Poindexter Village, including a narrative report, current photographic documentation, historic photographs, copies of existing and historical drawings of the buildings, and paper copies of Ohio Historic Inventory (OHI) forms for each of the eight row house types in Poindexter Village. Work to meet the stipulation was completed in June 2013. The documentation will be maintained at the State Library of Ohio and will be accessible to future generations interested in learning about this part of our city’s history.
Donut Finds a New Playmate!
We’ve always known that Donut’s play instinct is way stronger than her prey instinct. When she was two months old, she saw her first rabbit on a walk (it was almost as big as she was back then), but instead of chasing it, she gave a play bow and wagged her tail! That’s when we knew Donut just wasn’t going to be a very good hunting dog, unlike her predecessor Bagle. Maybe the traits go together: Donut really likes to play, and Bagle, being much more serious minded, hardly ever played.
Donut’s early playmates lived in the neighborhood, as many of the neighbors adopted puppies around the same time and brought them to the same field to play. Her best friend was a German Shepherd named Journey, who was two weeks younger. As a result, they were about the same size for a month, before Journey grew to be almost three times heavier at 85 pounds. Then there was Zoe, a hound mix; Lizzy, a golden retriever; Buddy, a black lab; and Finn, a yellow lab. Donut also ran with the vizlas, as our neighborhood for some reason supported four of these not-so-common breeds.
In the office, Donut got to play with Karly, the beagle that belongs to historian Roy Hampton. When Roy retired, Karly stopped coming to the office. However, HDC’s new architect Brad Curtis has a family dog named Baxter, who visits the office every now and then. Brad keeps these visits few and far between, since when Donut and Baxter play, everyone stops working to watch their antics. Baxter is Donut’s opposite: male, about a year old, and only 10 pounds in size. As a result, there is no competition and Baxter brings out Donut’s inner puppy (never lurking too far from the surface) as the two of them happily run around the office and wrestle. The staff looks forward to the days when Donut gets to play with Baxter, but we probably have to make sure no cats are visiting!
Donut and Baxter rest after wrestling all morning
(by Charissa Durst, posted on December 11, 2012)
Back in 2006, when Dick Krehbiel of the Roth Partnership asked me if HDC would be willing to join their team for some historic school renovations in Cincinnati, I said “Sure!” HDC would be the team’s historic preservation consultant and be responsible for the rehabilitation of the exterior enclosure, with emphasis on roofs and historic masonry and terra cotta. It seemed pretty straightforward. Little did we know that our work to repair the exterior of Oyler School would be part of an award-winning design project or that the school would become nationally recognized as a catalyst for turning around a poor urban neighborhood.
Oyler School was built in 1930 and designed by the prominent Cincinnati architectural firm of Samuel Hannaford & Sons. The building anchors the Lower Price Hill Historic District, which is located in the river valley to the southwest of downtown Cincinnati. The school’s impressive exterior was described in the National Register nomination as a “delightful blending of Art Deco and Italian Romanesque executed in terra cotta, brick, and Rookwood tile.” Statues of boys and girls executed by Rookwood are seated in various locations on the building.
View of the south elevation of Oyler School
In the mid-1970s, when Cincinnati Public Schools announced it would close Oyler, the Lower Price Hill community rallied to save their school. In the 1980s, the Community Council formed to give the community a voice in city politics and the neighborhood was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as Cincinnati’s largest historic district. Ultimately, Cincinnati Public Schools committed to a $20 million rehabilitation and addition to Oyler School.
Detail of terra cotta on the south elevation
HDC’s work centered around the restoration, repair, and replacement of the terra cotta details. HDC’s design team researched the composition of the exiting terra cotta in order to find materials and methods for seamless repair and replacement. The team paid special attention to the different types of glazing finish the contractor would encounter, including monolithic (uniform solid), mottled (speckled), polychrome (having two or more colors on the same unit), and polychrome blended colors (varying colors are blended by method of surface application).
Falcon detail on south elevation
Ultimately, HDC designed and specified terra cotta work that work included removing, cleaning, and re-installing terra cotta features after the repair and reinforcement of the underlying structural system; repairing cracks and damaged glazing, and replicating missing/damaged items using glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC). HDC staff also made multiple visits to the job site to approve the quality of the mockups and to resolve hidden structural problems as pieces of terra cotta were removed for cleaning.
Capital terra cotta details
Oyler School was one of eight projects to receive a 2012 Rehabilitation Award from the Cincinnati Preservation Association. The event was held on Saturday, November 17, at the Cincinnati Zoo, whose renovation of the Reptile House also received an award. Charissa Durst and Bill Faciane represented Hardlines Design Company and were joined by representatives from the Roth Partnership, Cincinnati Public Schools, Oyler School, and the Lower Price Hill community in what may have been the largest turnout in the history of the awards.
Dick Krehbiel of the Roth Partnership and Charissa Durst of Hardlines Design Company (photo by Bill Faciane)
In tandem with the completion of its physical transformation, the school’s unique K-12 program targeted at serving the community is making national headlines, as American Public Media featured the school on four segments of its “Marketplace” program this year. Once again, Hardlines Design Company has contributed to the preservation of a historical community building.
(by Andy Sewell, originally posted October 24, 2012)
Recently, HDC architectural engineer Bill Faciane was in the news, talking about our work with Toward Independence, a non-profit group in Xenia, Ohio, that is participating in a city-wide movement to renovate and restore downtown businesses. The group owns two buildings in downtown Xenia and became eligible for façade improvements through a Community Development Block Grant.The group contracted HDC to help restore the buildings to their original, historical appearance.
Originally, the buildings were covered in 1970s-era material after damage from a 1974 tornado that struck downtown Xenia. Like many things from that time, what seemed like a good idea hasn’t really held up in terms of lasting aesthetics! Through restoration of the buildings to their historical appearance, Toward Independence will contribute to the revitalization of downtown Xenia. This work is another example of the value of historic building renovation in revitalizing the downtowns of American communities.
(by Charissa Durst, originally posted on October 4, 2012)
We often take for granted the history of a neighborhood. Where once stood an Art Deco office building, now sits a cookie-cutter strip mall. But what if an architect had taken the time to study the history behind the Art Deco building? How would they have gone about completing an historic building renovation that not only would house shops but could also have a positive impact on the neighborhood as a whole? By following a few guidelines, renovating a historical building doesn’t need to be the money pit many developers would have you believe.
Do your research. Understanding the history of a community will give you a huge advantage when beginning your restoration project. Just as architectural periods segue from one style to another, neighborhoods reinvent themselves over time. Through careful research, patterns will emerge that will help you tackle your project while maintaining the building’s integrity. Historically, research has always been a bit of a treasure hunt. Hours of library research often turned up scant details while other days you could immerse yourself in a building’s original plans. Luckily, the internet has opened up the world’s historical archives and sources such as Sanborn Fire Insurance maps collection give you an instant picture of a neighborhood’s character.
Review regulations. Every city has its own regulations on historical preservation. Taking the time to learn know your area’s regulations will definitely save you time, money and headaches. Submit plans early in the process; you might need the extra time to make design adjustments. Also, check the historical designation of the building you are restoring. Is it listed in the National Register of Historic Places or as a contributing structure to a historic district? Contact the state historic preservation office, the agency that oversees historic preservations, and ask if your project has any restrictions you’ll need to follow. Generally, historic renovations should follow the Secretary of the Interior’s Guidelines for Rehabilitation (link to NPS site?). Finally, check if your property is located in an area subject to review by a local area commission, architectural commission, or historical commission. I sit on the German Village Historic Commission here in Columbus, and believe me, we are way more strict with buildings in our district than a property that is merely subject to state or federal regulations!
Secure funding. Historic building renovations can qualify for a variety of federal grant programs. These programs, which help offset the high cost of preservation projects, have various requirements so make sure you know your projects parameters and goals before applying. The Main Street Grant program assists historic downtown areas retain their tradition and character. Our company is currently working on a façade improvement project in the City of Xenia that was partially funded by a Main Street grant.
Rendering of proposed facade improvements in Xenia, Ohio
Federal historic tax credits and new market tax credits have been a source of funding for renovation projects since the 1980s. When coupled with state historic tax credits, a significant percentage of the project’s costs can be covered. Our Woodward Opera House project recently applied for federal and state tax credits, which allowed the project to expand from a $2.5 million “just fix-it” construction budget to an almost $15 million state-of-the-art performing arts center budget.
The Woodward Opera House in Mount Vernon, ca 1916
Reuse and recycle. Bringing modern conveniences and materials into your historical renovation can be a labor of love. By installing environmentally friendly products during your renovation, you can bring warmth and savings to your building. Reuse, restore or repurpose flooring you salvaged during demolition. Creating a ‘sustainable-use plan’ prior to construction will expedite the material recycling and help you organize the inventory for future use. If your goal is a sustainable project, consider obtaining LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. A project earns points for each sustainable criteria met. A total building renovation qualifies as a LEED New Construction project, which requires 40 points for basic certification, 50 for Silver, 60 for gold, and 80 for platinum. HDC is currently renovating a historic elementary school with the goal of achieving LEED for Schools Silver Certification.
Stewart Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio, with the original 1874 building in the front
Hire the Right Team. The pool of design firms that provide historic renovation services seems to grow as the economy shrinks and property owners stop building new and start focusing on maintaining their existing real estate. In reality, many firms actively avoid historic renovations because they are, as one engineer told me, “dirty.” The site can be full of unknown contaminants, there are too many restrictions on the design work, and you never know what will be uncovered during construction that will require a sudden change in the plans. In a new construction project, all the mistakes are your own and you don’t have to deal with inherited issues. But if you ask most people, they would much rather live and work in a nicely renovated historic building than in a modern building. The materials, proportions, and craftsmanship of historic buildings just cannot be replicated today without breaking the bank.
Undertaking an historic building restoration doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Thoroughly researching the project before you begin will save you both time and money. Hiring the right team will save you headaches during design reviews and construction. The reward for your effort, though, is knowing you saved a piece of history for yet another generation to cherish
(by Andy Sewell, originally posted September 27, 2012)
Undertaking an historical building renovation provides you with an opportunity to combine the authenticity of the old with the latest technologies and concepts in green building. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the sponsor for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), estimates that buildings account for 74 percent of the electricity used in the U.S. and 39 percent all energy usage.
The goal of the LEED program is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent, an ambitious commitment that’s only attainable on a one by one basis. Besides bringing an existing building into the 21st Century by using the latest building materials and techniques that increase its energy efficiency, rehabilitating an existing building saves raw materials and lowers landfill waste. Saving historic buildings also has an important social role by preserving the past for generations to come.
Planning the renovation of an historic building is complex to start with, but maintaining its historical integrity with the green building challenge makes the project that much more challenging. Fortunately, engineers, architects and designers with LEED credentials who respect the historical value of the building know how to marry the old with the new, such as those on staff here at Hardlines Design Company. The result is a building with that’s lighter on the environment because of the energy-efficiency intelligence designed into it and the recycling that takes place in the renovation process.
Using licensed and highly trained consultants who specialize in green and LEED building can help you navigate the design, approval and certification process, for both recognition as a green building and a sound historical building. These experts know how to combine energy efficient heating and cooling, lighting and air quality controls without damaging the components of the structure that contribute to its historical significance.
By working with the existing framework of the building and salvaging what’s significant and valuable, the project team can incorporate components that bring it up to the high standards for LEED certification or as a green building. High efficiency HVAC equipment, insulation, windows and ventilation techniques contribute to the greening of existing structures without interfering with their role in history, socially and physically.
Using old and new materials that don’t cause indoor air pollution has never been easier, since options for products that do not throw off harmful gases are many. Wood finishes with low volatile organic compounds are available for refinishing existing wood. Updating wiring with smart technology lowers the energy footprint, as does building in water conservation measures without disturbing the original fixtures.
The art behind using the original components, combined with modern construction practices, assures owners and developers that the final result will be a seamless blend of the best of the past with state-of-the-art engineering and design. It’s possible and desirable to combine the past with the best of the new to not only honor the history, but to respect the environment in the future, as well.
For more information on incorporating green design into your buildings, old or new, please feel free to contact us!