Monday, March 26, 2007

No, That's Not a Foreclosure Sign in Our Front Yard

This attractive announcement ("LEGAL NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING") has been staked in our front yard for the past two weeks. Such a display is actually not uncommon in our neighborhood. Because the area we live in has been designated a Historic District by the City, any changes to the property must be approved in a public hearing by the City Historic Preservation Commission before construction can begin. We are finally ready to get started making some much-needed improvements to our place, hence the Notice posted in the yard.

We bought this house almost three years ago, not because it was exactly what we wanted, but because we saw that it could be. It was located in the part of town we had waited for years to get into, and it "had good bones." We were willing to overlook a lot, including the Ouiji board in the basement, the wiring that frightened even the electrician's apprentice, the busted bathtub concealed behind the sliding glass shower door that has never slid all the way open or closed, and the human teeth in the closet (they were baby teeth in a medicine bottle, but creepy all the same). Also the french doors the previous owners installed in the master bedroom on the second floor without bothering to build the balcony they were intended to open onto. It needs a lot of work, but there is a lot there to work with, and we've spent the past year refining our plans for it. We'll present those plans to the Historical Preservation Committee for approval at the public hearing we've been advertising on our front lawn tonight.

The house's interesting history should play a part in the Commission's decision. It appeared on this lot in the East End in 1936, but it wasn't built here - it was moved. So far we haven't been able to determine where or when the house was actually built. From 1936 until the mid-eighties, it was used as apartments, housing between 2 and 4 tenants at different times. Because the house can't be shown to have been built in the historic district during the defined "period of significance," it has been designated "non-contributing," which technically exempts it from the City's historic remodeling requirements.

In spite of the house's non-contributing status, the Historical Preservation Commission believes the house has significant historical integrity and wants to see that preserved. They won't get any argument from us there, as that's been our goal all along. The historic elements of the house (predominantly Colonial Revival style), are what give it its character, and that's what we love most about it.

Hopefully we won't get too wrapped up in red tape tonight.

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