A blog for the Bloomingdale neighborhood in Washington, DC.
One practical example of the potential cost to homeowners would be replacing windows. We spent about $20K replacing 60s-era aluminum-framed windows with energy efficient windows but we didn't put in historically accurate wood-frame or wood composite ones. That would have cost about 30 percent more, according to the three estimates we got. Window replacement costs is one of the sore points in the Capitol Hill Historic District. If you want to change windows on Capitol Hill, you must get permission. It requires showing proof your current windows are bad, and provide drawings and manufacturing specs of the proposed replacements. This extra time and extra money might be OK to a true preservationist. It might be a burden for others.
Thanks for sharing, Pat!A few comments about windows, which seem to be the concern that is most frequently mentioned when talk turns to historic districts- My understanding is that DCRA now requires a permit for window replacements, whether the property is in a historic district or not, and must meet a minimum standard for energy efficiency. Many homes have already had the windows replaced over the years. If a house has windows which are not historic, and yet another window replacement is in order, the new windows are not required to meet historic standards. Now, I think the HPO folks at DCRA may encourage you to consider returning to the historic character, but it is not required. The modern windows are grandfathered. If you wanted to replace all of your windows, (and if I were a senior -oops, I am by some standards - I don't think that would be a high priority for me), alternative materials are allowed for secondary elevations and the windows on the back of your house. And last, the Bloomingdale and Eckington Civic Associations hosted a workshop on windows which was fascinating, and I am sure could be presented again in the future. They explained about repairing historic windows, the energy savings from quality windows, and gave examples of how the price difference in windows has shrunk over time. They also shared that storm windows are allowed in historic districts. The Capitol Hill Historic folks have a lot of information about windows, as do others, and I found them to be very generous with their time to help educate others.
Bloomingdale deserves to be preserved because we live in a stunningly beautiful neighborhood. Everyone recognizes that. Our houses have beautiful bay fronts, many with distinctive turrets, handsome front wood porches, front stone walls, and front steps. Most of our roof lines are intact and there is a symmetrical rhythm that is so appealing. Most of our corner houses are eye popping beautiful. Our commercial district at First and RI Avenue NW has a small town, yet urban feel with local shops and restaurants filled with neighbors. These are the reasons I bought my house in Bloomingdale 33 years ago and why I continue to live here. I love my home, my neighborhood, the businesses, and the homeowners and renters alike.Bloomingdale also has a significant history. Our neighborhood was the epicenter of the struggle for civil rights for minorities. That fight involved many law suits by African Americans who wanted to buy a home in Bloomingdale in the early and mid 1900's, but couldn't due to racial covenants preventing the sale of homes to them. They fought and fought for years till the Supreme Court finally heard their case in 1948. They won that landmark case. It declared that racial covenants were unconstitutional, and it forever changed housing laws for minorities. That history is important not just to Bloomingdale and DC, but also to the entire USA.Bloomingdale is truly special in many ways. Isn't that why we love it and why we live here? That's why I live here and want to protect the neighborhood I live in.Only historic district designation can preserve the neighborhood that we have today.
So our neighborhood will no longer represent the epicenter for civil rights struggles unless we accept historic preservation restrictions? That is a bit of a stretch.
Thank you, Pat Mitchell, for adding some sanity to the discussion.