This month at the HPC: Window changes and a new fence

Update: Both COA applications were approved.

The Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled to meet Wednesday, May 31, at 4 p.m. The agenda will include public hearings on two applications for certificates of appropriateness for College Hill properties at 706 Spring Garden Street and 924 Carr Street. The meeting will be held in the Plaza Level Conference Room, Melvin Municipal Building, 300 W. Washington Street.

The meeting is open to the public, and anyone who wants to speak in favor of or in opposition to an application will be given an opportunity to do so. Since the commission’s public hearings are quasi-judicial procedures, testimony can be given only in person at the meeting, and speakers must swear or affirm to tell the truth.

Click on the links below for PDF copies of the full applications.

706 Spring Garden Street (January 2023 photo)

706 Spring Garden Street

Construct picket fence (Application 2704)

Description of fence project

924 Carr Street (January 2023 photo)

924 Carr Street

Window changes as part of kitchen remodeling (Application 2706)

This extraordinarily long application is a good example of how a COA application for a complex project should be written. A short excerpt:

The property is a Queen Anne cottagestyle home built prior to 1899 as a rental property by the original owners who lived next door. Its significant exterior and interior features have been carefully preserved over the years. Figures 1, 2.

David and Lynn Hemm have owned the property since 2014 and have continued the stewardship of this historic property. Both are active participants in the College Hill Neighborhood Association. David has served as a board member for several years. David and Lynn invited Mike Cowhig and Stefanleih Geary from the City of Greensboro to visit their home and provide input on the appropriate ways to maintain the special character of the Historic District, while meeting the practical needs of the owners.

A kitchen remodel was last completed about 30 years ago. Figures 3, 4, 5. The kitchen is very limited in both storage and working surface spaces. Its configuration appears to have changed several times over its history.

A rear elevation window was installed by a previous owner. It is a double pane window with exterior wood grids that duplicate the two over two double hung windows that are original to the house. Figures 6, 7, 8. A dated kitchen ventilation fan in the wall above this window discharges via the attic through the rear gable end to the exterior, suggesting that this was at one time the location of the cook stove. Figures 9, 10. It also suggests that at that time there was not a window in this location.

A side (secondary) elevation window provides illumination for the kitchen. This window appears be of similar vintage to the original windows. Figures 11, 12, 13. The frame and muntins have been reworked, prompting Mike Cowhig to speculate that this window may not be original to this location. This window, and several others in the house, have external wood framed storm windows. Figure 13. The owners have found these storm windows to be unsatisfactory in significantly reducing the heat loss from the home. They are “very drafty.”

The probable original butler pantry is now being used as a laundry room. Figure 14. A small storage room opposite the butler pantry was enlisted as a utility closet for the water heater and furnace. The furnace was later relocated, leaving patched openings in the floor and ceiling. Figures 15 and 16. The water heater remains, compromising the room’s use for storage. Figure 17.

Another side (secondary) elevation window is in the storage room. Figures 18, 19, 20. It is a two light casement window with one broken pane and hinges that appear to not be original. It has not been operable during the current ownership. The storage room is not heated and is very cold during the winter.

A side, rear porch, invisible from the street, provides a rear entrance to the home. Figures 21, 22. Long prior to the current ownership the porch was enclosed to form an interior hallway and bathroom. Figures 23 and 24. The exterior entrance to this space features a modified door that is not in any way appropriate to the home. Figure 25. The doorway is out of level and plumb and the resultant gaps around the jamb allow substantial air leakage from/to the outside. Figure 26. …

This application strives to achieve a balance between function and preservation. The standards allow for change when it is accomplished in a sensitive manner that maintains the special character of the Historic District, while meeting the practical needs of the residents/property owners. The owners request approval for:

  1. Replacement of a nonoriginal rear elevation window with a shorter identical window that duplicates the appearance of the home’s original windows, to accommodate optimal placement of the kitchen sink.
  2. Replacement of a period side (secondary) elevation window with a modern double pane window with exterior wood grids that duplicates the appearance of the home’s original windows, to recycle an architectural unit and improve energy efficiency.
  3. Replacement of an original side (secondary) elevation window with a modern double pane window with exterior wood grids that duplicates the appearance of the home’s original windows, to improve energy efficiency for an unheated room.
  4. Replacement of a nonconforming side, rear exterior entrance door with a salvaged, period appropriate door, to eliminate a nonconforming architectural feature and improve energy efficiency.
  5. Installation of a tankless water heater on the rear elevation to restore the original unimpeded use of the storage room.
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