Category Archives: Historic Building Restoration

Historic preservation success: Stewart Elementary School opens!

(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


Spring 2014

(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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!


Fall 2013

(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.

 


Summer 2013

(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.

More information on Zoar can be found at http://historiczoarvillage.com/, and an enlightening video about Zoar Village and the challenges it faces with the levee performance issues can be viewed at http://video.westernreservepublicmedia.org/video/2222472761/

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.

Poindexter Village

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


Hardlines’ Oyler School project wins rehabilitation award

(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.


HDC Historic Preservation Work in the News

(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.

You can view the video clip and read the accompanying news article here.


Five Things to Keep in Mind About Historic Building Renovation

(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


Going Green with Historic Building Renovation

(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.

The Lincoln Theatre in Columbus, Ohio, renovated  to meet City of Columbus Sustainable Design standards

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!


Lincoln Theatre Wins the Recchie Award!

(by Charissa Durst, originally posted December 9, 2011)

The Goldilocks Principle, or Third Time’s a Charm!

The James B. Recchie Award was established in 1984 by the Columbus Landmarks Foundation to honor those who have made exceptional advances in historic preservation and urban design in the central Ohio area. Since previous projects that received the award were designed by the most prestigious design firms in town, we here at HDC have always felt that the Recchie Award is one of the premier historic preservation awards in the state—and one that I’ve dearly wanted for the firm!

HDC began the addition to and rehabilitation of the Lincoln Theatre in 2005 with a master plan, with construction completed in May 2009. The 1928 Egyptian Revival theatre once was the heart of a thriving African-American neighborhood, but it had sat vacant for almost 40 years. The City of Columbus acquired the property in 2004 and recruited the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) to manage the building rehabilitation project. The Lincoln Theatre Association was formed with wide community support and a stated mission to “serve as the steward of the historic landmark theatre, as an incubator for talented, emerging artists.” This complex project was completed on such a fast schedule that when people asked what was our favorite part of the Lincoln Theatre project, we sometimes joked: “When it was over!” But today, we’d answer (this time, only half jokingly): “When we won the Recchie Award!”

Our path to the Recchie Award, however, was elusive, and the competition tough…

The 2009 Recchie:  Were we too small?
The Lincoln Theatre opened on Memorial Day of 2009, and we nominated the project for the Recchie Award by submitting a description of the project along with the benefits to the community. Five of the nominations were selected to be finalists, including the Lincoln Theatre, and needless to say, everyone involved was elated. The HDC design staff coordinated with the theatre staff of CAPA to show the three jurors around the building, and then we attended the awards ceremony the next day, with high hopes and crossed fingers. But the Recchie was awarded to the Ohio State University Thompson Library renovation, a large-scale, high-profile project to expand and modernize the beloved main library, one of the anchor buildings on the Oval at the OSU campus. We had to admit, the work was indeed massively impressive and well deserving of the award. So, we thought, maybe next year…

The 2010 Recchie:  Were we too big?
In 2010, we again nominated the Lincoln Theatre (thinking maybe 2009 was an anomaly), and the Lincoln again became a finalist. But this time, the Recchie Award went to a project on the opposite end of the size spectrum, the Franklin Park Residence and Gardens, a residential-sized project commended not only for its design but also for its community involvement and impact. Dozens of nearby residents came out to praise the gardens. Again, we had to admit, it was a beautifully executed historic house renovation, and one with an immediate community benefit.

HDC architect Vivian Majtenyi explains the Lincoln Theatre project during the 2010 jury tour

The 2011 Recchie:  Surprise! This time, just right!
In 2011, we decided to skip the nomination while we gathered more operating data about the theatre’s affect on the community. So you can imagine our surprise when the notification arrived that—for the third time—the Lincoln Theatre was an award finalist! When we asked who nominated the project, we were told that all nominations are anonymous, and in this case, only the name “Lincoln Theatre” was submitted, with no description or justification. This time, for the juror’s tour, HDC and CAPA each sent three people, and we highlighted the jazz academy on the third floor, the rooftop patio (missed on previous tours), and the diverse uses of the theatre.

The Jazz Academy’s keyboard studio (left) and the rooftop patio (right) (Photos courtesy of Brad Feinknopf)

We arrived at the 2011 awards ceremony at the Franklin Park Conservatory with subdued expectations, aiming to enjoy the presentation for itself. At the end of the evening, when Nancy Recchie announced that the winner was the Lincoln Theatre, we were stunned! After the presentation, we were congratulated by many friend and peers, who said the award was well deserved and long overdue.

When our group got together to talk about the process, we surmised that this year, we had done a good job on the tour of explaining what the Lincoln Theatre was all about. During the tour, juror Patty Stevens, Chief of Park Planning at Cleveland Metroparks, was amazed that the three design representatives from HDC were all women and marveled at how one firm could have architects, historians, and archaeologists under one roof. Juror Cleve Ricksecker, Executive Director of Capital Crossroads and Discovery District SID, was very impressed by how heavily the theatre was used for non-traditional events such as graduation parties and funerals, and Mark Feinknopf, an Architecture & Planning Consultant with Sacred Space Inc., was a former resident of Columbus who remembered being in the theatre before the renovation. He was particularly moved by its revival. The three jurors also commended the design of the newly inserted balcony, which has been very successful with audiences!

The performer’s view from the stage, showing the new balcony at the back (Photo courtesy of Brad Feinknopf)

The audience view of the Lincoln Theatre, from the balcony looking at the stage (Photo courtesy of Brad Feinknopf)

At left: Here we are, just before the official presentation of the plaques (the rolled awards we’re holding are for being finalists). Left to right: Todd Bemis (CAPA, VP of Operations), Charissa Durst (HDC, President), Laura Piersall (HDC, Project Architect), Alison Badowi (Kabil Associates, Structural Engineer), and Vivian Majtenyi (HDC, Architect)
At right: The 2011 Recchie Award plaque

Epilogue
Too small? Too big? Just right! That’s the Goldilocks principle, and for us, the third time quite unexpectedly turned out to be the charm. We were also given an extra award plaque to present to Mayor Coleman, in recognition of his support in securing the initial funding for the project; we’ll be giving the mayor his award in mid December.

And so, on a happy note, we here at HDC give a hearty thanks to all who contributed to the Lincoln Theatre renovation and operations, making this award possible. Be sure and check out the history of the Lincoln Theatre, and don’t miss their calendar for unique events and shows!

The Lincoln Theatre project team:
Architect: Hardlines Design Company
Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing/Engineer: Korda/Nemeth Engineering, Inc.
Structural/Civil Engineer: Kabil Associates
Acoustician: Acoustic Dimensions
Interiors/Furnishings: Williams Interior Design
General Contractor: The Quandel Group, Inc.

Also check out the announcement in the Columbus Dispatch.


The Hardlines Design Company Story Part 1 – Our Beginnings

(by Charissa Durst, originally published October 20, 2011)

Everyone knows that garages are the birthplace of many a great company, and although Hardlines didn’t actually start in a garage, you could say a garage is what started it all! The company was founded by Don Durst and me (then Charissa Wang), who met as undergraduates at the University of Maryland School of Architecture in 1984. We both subsequently attended graduate school at The Ohio State University (OSU), and during spring break of 1990, our final year, Don rented an office over a hobby shop in Akron so he could prepare his thesis project in a private place away from his family. The owner of the building also owned an auto repair shop, and when he learned that Don was an architecture student, he asked Don if he could design a three-car garage for him to store cars. Don brought the project back to Columbus and asked me to help him with it. The date was April 28, 1990, and that became the official foundation date for the firm. The project expanded to include a three-bedroom living unit above the garage, with the hobby shop (owned by the wife) in the front, and construction occurred later that year. Our partnership was born—we just designed the garage instead of working in it!

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When Don and I graduated from OSU in December 1990, we fully intended to do what most other graduates do: find a job and intern under other architects. Unfortunately for us, Operation Desert Storm was underway, and the country was in a recession. All of the firms we sent resumes to indicated we should try back later in the year. So, our careers took a brief detour–Don’s first job with a graduate degree was to work third shift at a parking garage, and mine was as a hostess in a Chinese restaurant!

In the summer of 1991, Don and I obtained summer jobs with the National Park Service (NPS) to prepare HABS/HAER* drawings at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base since we had some previous experience doing this work as undergraduates. After the summer work was completed, we persuaded the NPS to contract with our company to finish the project. As this project was winding down in the spring of 1992, the NPS recommended us to a client in Madison, Indiana, to finish HAER documentation of the Schroeder Saddle Tree Factory. We completed this work in the fall and decided to set up a permanent office in Columbus. And so the story of Hardlines begins…

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*Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record

Stay tuned for next week: Why “Hardlines”?