The history of a building is judged by its porches, columns and other exterior architectural details but also by its interior features, the executive director of Preservation Chapel Hill explains.
One of the first things new homeowners want to change, for instance, is the kitchen, she said, but cabinets, countertops and flooring contribute to an architectural style. It's the same with floorplans, windows and other elements that might not seem so significant.
"That is what we're looking for in preservation, those things that somehow managed to stay the same," she said.
Top preservationists and historians will talk more about historic buildings at the 2014 Roots of the
The keynote speaker,
A couple's plan for a Modernist home among the bungalows and Victorian houses in
In this case and others, the urge is to make new homes invisible, Szcodronski said.
But "the things that make houses architecturally really interesting or really great are things that inherently make them stand out," she said. "If we're building houses on empty lots in historic districts intentionally so that they don't stand out, are we creating interesting architecture or are we creating dull architecture?"
A recent example of that is on
The existing cottages were built with materials from Chapel of the Cross' rectory. The materials may be from the mid-1800s, Szcodronski said. All three cottages have been student rentals since the early 1900s, and two are likely to stay that way.
The owner originally wanted to build a new cottage in front, connected by a locked door and hallway to the one at
Residents built largely Colonial Revival houses in the 1920s and '30s, but after
"You've got to be willing to have unique, distinctive architecture of multiple styles," she said.
It could become harder to save historic houses if three state rehabilitation tax credits expire this year as expected. The tax credits help offset the cost of reviving historic structures, but they also help the local economy, she said.
Homeowners use the money they save from those credits to hire local architects and builders and buy materials at the local hardware store, she said. They also support Preservation Chapel Hill's work and other independent historic groups, she said.
"When we look at our design guidelines and our design regulations or districts, they only apply to the outside, and for the most part, they apply to the front of the building, not even the rest of it. ... The goal is when you're driving down the street, to preserve that streetscape and character, but it allows people the flexibility to make changes and update their house over time," she said.
"The number one thing that I advocate is we just need to think about what we're doing, think about what the long-term impact of this is," she said. "Is this really what we want as a community?"
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