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Re: What is the mission of a Historic District? (moved from What's this letter from Warren G. Curtin
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Quote:


JPhurst: Is that rusty chain link fence one of the "existing features" you value and wish to preserve as an artifact of the property's history?



No. I would like to see it replaced with either a) a historically accurate reproduction, or b) a modern fence that is in good repair, and distinguishes itself from the original.

What is not acceptable is to replace it with something that is "sort of" like what "could have" been there.

Except, of course, that it wasn't.

Joshua Parkhurst
President
Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy

Posted on: 2005/12/15 19:52
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Re: What is the mission of a Historic District? (moved from What's this letter from Warren G. Curtin
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Interesting points ECH, but I think you'd be hard pressed to find any resident today on the side of really eliminating the districts. Just look at some the of the crappy infill like the setback white brickface stuff on 7th between Monmouth & Coles.

Could you clarify what block you mean by the following passage, are you referring to actual infill or restoration or what could happen if...?

Quote:

ECH wrote:
Viz:suddenly we are inundated with darling little wooden reproductions of Cape Cod saltboxes in sweet pastel colors.

Posted on: 2005/12/15 18:51
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Re: What is the mission of a Historic District? (moved from What's this letter from Warren G. Curtin
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While it certainly can't hurt to chat about this subject, and eventually, perhaps, to come to some sort of mutually satifying resolution/solution to the contretemps, it may also be
useful to recall that:
at the time, years and years ago,
that historic districting first alighted in Jersey City--
downtown neighborhoods, if I remember correctly (and I think I do) were not so crazy about hitching onto the bandwagon. The various neighborhood associations opted to join up and get certified, but it was clearly remarked
at the time in certain of the neighborhoods by the folks
who owned property there, that the neighbohood
associations did not speak for all of the people or even a majority of the people.
I was involved closely with the movement
to get Harsimus Cove designated, and I recall very clearly that the vast majority of people whom I talked with here, back then, were absolutely Not Interested in getting the designation. No way, Jose.
The same is true for friends of mine in Hamilton Park, who
at the time that that area was proposed for designation, were strongly vocal in opposition. These were folks who owned prominently located and distinctive buildings with high visibility, not shacks in someone's backyard.
It is a misreading of the history to believe nowadays that
the designation of these historic districts was a snap and a one-two-three done deal. More people were Against it than were For it, except that we pro-districting guys screamed
louder and eventually carried the day.
Based on the scuttlebut on the sidewalks, I think that today, many people find the historic districting
designations, at best, a very mixed blessing. Many people
contend that the commissioners are not qualified to hold office. Many people believe that the historic district officer would be better off working somewhere else, that his "style" and taste have very little to do with vintage Jersey City. Viz:suddenly we are inundated with darling little wooden reproductions of Cape Cod saltboxes in sweet pastel colors. Makes the neighbors wonder what in the world is going on. Is this Oz? You cannot discount public opinion.
A lot of time has passed since the early eighties, and there
has been alot of water gone, mercifully, under the bridge, but the subject of JC historic districts remains as much a talking point as ever before.

Posted on: 2005/12/15 18:38
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Re: What is the mission of a Historic District? (moved from What's this letter from Warren G. Curtin
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Dan, You answered my question in your 2nd paragraph. No one was suggesting gutting or eliminating the Historic guidelines, but that hearsay is what has taken hold and colored the whole discussion. I suspect the residents of the other districts still haven't heard the ACTUAL proposals, rather than "they want to eliminate the historic districts".

The folks who have done the homework say historic districts around the nation function more along the lines of what they propose, rather than the strict orthodoxy of the current guidelines. It seem those districts recognize that historic cohesion is as important as absolute authenticity.

It appears the only choices you would allow for St Francis is a modern tower or a slavish reproduction of the original hospital building. How is either the best thing for our neighborhood?

JPhurst: Is that rusty chain link fence one of the "existing features" you value and wish to preserve as an artifact of the property's history?


Quote:

DanL wrote:
Surely, it is possible to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of an idea, object, theory, artifact, artwork, country, people.... after learning more about it/them etc.

Whether one knew in advance or not that they were buying property in a historic district, would it not be sensible to learn more about the district, the ordinance and historic preservation in general before attacking it/trying to gut it or eliminated as was suggested by many Hamiton Park property owners last year.

Why "a large representative slice of Hamilton Park Historic District can be so at odds with what we're told residents of the other districts believe." -- Good question.

Posted on: 2005/12/15 17:56
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Re: What is the mission of a Historic District? (moved from What's this letter from Warren G. Curtin
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Although Mr. Curtin and HPNA proposed a lot of "revisions" to the historic district ordinance, the question of replacing actual features with "period" replicas seems to be generating the most controversy.

What is the purpose of a historic district? It has the same purpose as preserving an individual historic landmark. Landmarks and districts serve to educate, and increase property value, to demonstrate the staying power of the buildings' previous features and architecture.

If an individual landmark is protected, no one would seriously say that "historic preservation" of that landmark would be to replace the building's actual features with "period" features that may have been on some other buildings, but not the landmark itself.

So the fact that a certain type of feature may have been available in other buildings should not give carte blanche to add such features to another building that never had them in the first place.

Dan L. is 100% correct. The proposed change would have replaced historic preservation with a "neighborhood theme park." It is misleading and the antithesis of what historic preservation is supposed to be about. One could not say "this is what the neighborhood once was," because quite simply, it wasn't.

Finally, it is worth noting that the proponents of keeping (or strengthening) the current ordinance are in the same boat as everyone else. All of the other (democratically elected) neighborhood association heads live in historic districts and are bound by the current guidelines. At least 2 of the 3 HPC members who opposed the changes also live in historic districts. I'm not sure if Ron Russell does, although he is one of the best architects involved in historic preservation in Jersey City, if not the country.

Joshua Parkhurst
President
Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy

Posted on: 2005/12/15 13:41
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Re: What is the mission of a Historic District? (moved from What's this letter from Warren G. Curtin?)
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Surely, it is possible to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of an idea, object, theory, artifact, artwork, country, people.... after learning more about it/them etc.

Whether one knew in advance or not that they were buying property in a historic district, would it not be sensible to learn more about the district, the ordinance and historic preservation in general before attacking it/trying to gut it or eliminated as was suggested by many Hamiton Park property owners last year.

Why "a large representative slice of Hamilton Park Historic District can be so at odds with what we're told residents of the other districts believe." -- Good question.



Quote:

brewster wrote:
This thread was created as DanL requested a new thread topic closer to the discussion.

Dan,

I'm sorry, but it's pretty condescending to think that all these people "just don't get it" because they're ignorant. We understand the aesthetic concept of clearly delineating the original and reproduction from the imitation, we just don't agree with it's application in the neighborhoods. As I said, we believe a distinctly modern fence is more detrimental to the Historic nature of that lovely block on Jersey than a period fence of a different design. And had a replacement "victorian" style fence been installed 50 years ago (clearly visible elsewhere in the district), we would not be discussing removing it.

You apparently believe the glass and metal tower with terraces originally presented by the Silvermans, which ( as explained by it's architect) was explicitly designed to ""fit" in or be compatiable with historic areas and fabric - proportion, bulk, density, volume, materials, carrying through horizontal and vertical lines" would be better than the latest design (which is fully documented at the 25mc.org/ site you linked). There were few in agreement with that position at a meeting with at least 60 residents there.

One wonders how a large representative slice of Hamilton Park Historic District can be so at odds with what we're told residents of the other districts believe.

Posted on: 2005/12/15 3:00
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Re: What is the mission of a Historic District? (moved from What's this letter from Warren G. Curtin?)
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This article is in today's Sag Harbor Express..... it shows historic district flexibility.

We were told that after we power washed the paint from our brick building that we could not re-paint it or a stop work order would be issued. Yet, how many homes in the area are painted? We were also not allowed to pick the color for the metal cornice. It was going to be picked for us!

I know the commission has lightened up somewhat in regards to paint choices, but will it last?
---------------------------------------------------------

THE SAG HARBOR EXPRESS
ISSUE DATE: 12/08/05 December 2005

St. Andrews Gets Million Dollar Makeover

by Beth Young

In the 130 years that St. Andrew's R.C. Church has stood on Division Street in Sag Harbor, it has withstood hurricanes, winter storms and a slew of paint jobs, but it has never undergone a major renovation - until now.

In the past year, the church managed to raise $1.2 million in pledges from parishioners (not all of which have yet been received), to repair serious water damage within the church, repair its steeple, repair the roof on the rectory and finish a slew of grounds improvements.

The project, designed by Fred Stelle Architects, broke ground in mid-September and it is expected to be completed by Christmas.

Glen Rozzi is a member of the congregation at the church, and when the construction project began, the archdiocese of Rockville Centre hired him to oversee the project in the role of an OSR, or onsite representative working for the church.

Rozzi had originally planned to do the work himself, but when the scope of the project increased to its current level, he agreed to work as an intermediary between the church and Westhampton-based Lettieri Construction.

"They were an absolute pleasure to work with," said Rozzi, adding that the firm poured manpower into the project in a mad dash to complete it before Christmas.

The church was built in 1872, with the help of newly-arrived Reverend John J. Hefferman, who, with the assistance of the people of Sag Harbor, raised $600 to build a new church to replace one that had stood at the corner of Glover Street and Long Island Avenue. The only renovation since that time was the addition of two wings in 1892.

"It took a lot more work than was anticipated," said Fred Stelle of the project this week. "There was water damage to the exterior walls in the sanctuary. We knew there were problems in the rectory, but it was covered with asbestos shingles that covered up the problems."

Rozzi said that the four corners of the church where rain gutters had flowed down the side of the building were damaged by rain water enough to require reframing that hadn't been planned for in the original project. In the process, six windows throughout the sanctuary had to be removed and then replaced.

The original church was quite colorful, with a classic 19th Century Victorian paint job.

Early in the process of designing the renovation, Stelle had pitched one version of the design that included such Victorian paint schemes, but the parish members decided to keep the church white.

After the original doors on the church were stripped down to reveal a light tan natural wood, the church decided to mirror that color in much of the trim of the building. The new look is subtle, but it's apparent to passersby, who can see the church's lines much more clearly now.

"It's like putting a picture in a frame," said Stelle.

The newly discovered detail in the trim that had long been hidden under coats and coats of paint will likely be one of the most lasting beautiful flourishes of the project, particularly the wainscoting and raised paneling surrounding the rectory door, which, for the first time in a century, has finally seen the light of day.

The church was unable to use the clay shingles it had hoped to put on the steeple because they were too heavy, but has opted instead for a durable urethane paint. The interior of the church will also be seeing replastered and repainted walls within the next two weeks. Until that time, weekly services are being held in the parish hall, but the Sunday services, and the Christmas service, will be back in the sanctuary.

"Believe it or not, we'll be done by Christmas," said Rozzi.





Posted on: 2005/12/11 4:06
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What is the mission of a Historic District? (moved from What's this letter from Warren G. Curtin?)
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This thread was created as DanL requested a new thread topic closer to the discussion.

Dan,

I'm sorry, but it's pretty condescending to think that all these people "just don't get it" because they're ignorant. We understand the aesthetic concept of clearly delineating the original and reproduction from the imitation, we just don't agree with it's application in the neighborhoods. As I said, we believe a distinctly modern fence is more detrimental to the Historic nature of that lovely block on Jersey than a period fence of a different design. And had a replacement "victorian" style fence been installed 50 years ago (clearly visible elsewhere in the district), we would not be discussing removing it.

You apparently believe the glass and metal tower with terraces originally presented by the Silvermans, which ( as explained by it's architect) was explicitly designed to ""fit" in or be compatiable with historic areas and fabric - proportion, bulk, density, volume, materials, carrying through horizontal and vertical lines" would be better than the latest design (which is fully documented at the 25mc.org/ site you linked). There were few in agreement with that position at a meeting with at least 60 residents there.

One wonders how a large representative slice of Hamilton Park Historic District can be so at odds with what we're told residents of the other districts believe.

Quote:

DanL wrote:
This really should be a different thread - what Brewster describes and the images linked to is NOT Historic Preservation and neither are faux or generic period elements.

The building design in the link could be sited anywhere, but certainly not appropriate and nothing like it was ever located in what is now the Hamilton Park Historic District. Are original drawings still available to view online?

There are many ways to have contemporary/modern archecture "fit" in or be compatiable with historic areas and fabric - proportion, bulk, density, volume, materials, carrying through horizontal and vertical lines, evoking styles and form etc. An architect could do a much better job articulating this than I can as I certainly am not implying that a glass sheathed bulding is appropriate. A good example is Bell Fuse in Paulus Hook.

I did see on the watch dog website - www.25mc.org the following-

"The architecture will complement the historic district and possess aesthetic integrity."

What Brewster describes sounds like the medicore at best infill architecture that has been built in the downtown historic districts. While barely complementing the historic district, they certainly do not "possess aesthetic integrity."

As I mentioned in a previous post, I believe it comes down to education and if the city cannot do it, possibly the neighborhood association(s) could coordinate something with the Landmarks Conservancy and bring in an outside expert skilled in community education.

[quote]

Brewster wrote:
Dan,

I guess we in HP are just not true believers in the Historic Purity Ideal. When the Silverman Bros presented us with their first designs for the St Frances site which were explicitly designed NOT to look faux victorian, in accordance with your philosophy, the concensus of the HPNA attendees was we preferred a faked historic look. The next design they brought http://jclist.com/modules/newbb/viewt ... 0&forum=11#forumpost36839, combining elements of classic prewar apartments buildings with mansard roofs and other period features, elicited general praise from the crowd. Basically, it seems we would rather things fit in than be authentic. We would prefer a inauthentic period fence to a rusty chain link one, or even a pristine but modern looking one. It's the latter that would have visitors to our neighborhood saying "what were they thinking?!!"

Your attitude reminds me of the people admonished on Antiques Roadshow for having reupholstered the shredded covering on an 18th century chair. It may have been more valuable intact but they loved it and wanted to live with it in their dining room, as we want to live in our historic neighborhood, rather than just relish the "Historically Pure" elements.

[quote]
DanL wrote:
The example sited hightlights the education and communication problems.

Using a period fence is not appropriate (especially in this instance) and blurs history.

This building is adjacent to 5 or 6 other homes with the exact same original fence and across the street from 6 more homes with the same original fence. A period, but not original design fence would compromise the historic integrity of the block. This becomes the Disney version of history.

However, the homeowner is not forced to spend money to replicate the original fence, he can replace the chain link fence with something that is contempory, but clearly delineates that it was not the original fence.

[quote]
brewster wrote:
While I don't have a dog in this fight, as I live some 40 feet outside the district, I have heard some of the arguments and much of it sounds reasonable. On the other hand what sounds unreasonable is being told the only way to replace an ugly rusting chain link fence is to convince your neighbor to "loan" you a section of his fragile old cast iron fence and spend $40k having a custom mold and fence sections cast from it , when perfectly attractive period looking iron fence can be had at a fraction of that price. But the commission said since an old photograph exists showing that pattern fence, that was what he had to do. There were lots more crazy stories, but that one I remembered clearly for being over the top.

Here's an excerpt from a recent document from the HPNA committee, it's hardly a repeal of the historic zone, despite the hearsay. I will say that in my opinion Warren and colleagues should have raised some more public support from other districts before presenting their case.

Excerpt from HPNA Historic Preservation FACT Sheet:

What has HPNA recommended?

Based on the past year of review and meetings, the HPNA provided the following recommended changes to the Historic Commission:

? Historic Paint Colors

HPNA recommended that homeowners be allowed to choose paint colors from historic color charts as opposed to having the color dictated by the HPO.

? Routine Maintenance and Repair

HPNA recommended that historic review not be required for projects that meet the definition of routine maintenance and repair. Since maintenance and repair projects do not alter historic features, such projects have no historic effect and should be allowed to proceed without historic review.



? Existing Conditions

HPNA recommended that homeowners be allowed to repair and maintain existing conditions that are not historic. Homeowners should not be required to correct existing conditions in order to obtain a Certificate of No Effect. Allowing these conditions to continue does not have historic impact.

? Missing Historic Features

The Design Standard currently allows existing exterior features to be replaced with a "style and finish of the period." Yet, the standard for missing features requires the "accurate duplication of features." HPNA recommended that the design standard be modified to allow the replacement of missing features with a style and finish of the period instead of accurate duplications.

? Financial Incentives

HPNA recommended that the City provide financial assistance and incentives for restoration efforts. Many historic ordinances have provisions to freeze property taxes, and provide low-interest loans or grants for homeowners who undertake costly restoration projects.

What are the benefits of these changes?

The proposed changes would strengthen historic preservation in Jersey City by:

o Addressing and correcting homeowner confusion and frustration;

o Expediting the maintenance and repair of historic properties;

o Reducing the cost of replacing missing architectural features; and

o Encouraging restoration through financial incentives including tax abatements, low-interest loans, and grants.

Posted on: 2005/12/10 18:10
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