Monday, March 28, 2016

Historic Preservation Education: "owning property in a Historic District"

There have been many questions about being in a designated DC Historic District. 

The info supplied by the Capitol Hill Restoration Society might answer some of the questions raised. 
Here is the link to this info page at the website of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS).

Owning property in the Historic District

If You Own a Building in the Capitol Hill Historic District…
Except for the most routine maintenance and repair, you need to GET A BUILDING PERMIT for any work that is done on the exterior of your building within the Historic District.

When You are Thinking About Exterior Modifications:


  • Replace inappropriate elements that have been added to your building with historically accurate features. Leading candidates for such treatment will be shutters, permastone, aluminum siding, chain link fences in front yards, security iron, front stoops. Unless your house is in Colonial Revival style, cross-and-bible and six-panel front doors are inappropriate; so are most of the six-over-six sash windows on Capitol Hill.
  • Use historically appropriate paint colors on the exterior of your building.
  • Keep unpainted brick unpainted. If you are repainting already painted brick, repaint in the original brick color and use a matte finish paint. In most cases, brick red will be the appropriate color, but brown and tan brick was also used in the neighborhood.
  • Resist the temptation to “improve” original features of your property. “Improvements” to be avoided include bricking over front walks, adding brick to fences, adding shutters where there were none, and removing original fabric.
  • Use smooth faced (grade FBX) brick for any new construction on building facades, with mortar colored to match the brick.
  • Periodic inspections, and maintain your building appropriately and according to the best standards of work.
  • Keep all landscapes features intact, including ovolo or rounded curbs at the sidewalk, fences walks, and front yard grades.
  • Install semi-circular gutters and round downspouts on Victorian-era buildings.
  • Replicate building elements that are seriously deteriorated, using their original materials.
  • Consider repairing your original windows rather than replacing them.

  • Remove any original elements such as porches, porch roofs, or iron front stairs.
  • Sandblast.
  • Paint any previously unpainted elements, especially brick.
  • Change original window sash configuration or shrink door or window openings, if your doors or windows have to be replaced.
  • Install vinyl or aluminum replacement windows.
  • Paint window frames and sashes white, unless your house style is Georgian or Federal Revival.
  • Put siding over brick, permastone over anything, or brick over siding.
  • Use silicone or other non-breathing sealants on brick.
  • Install suburban-looking porch or deck rails.
  • Install six-panel, cross and bible doors, unless your building is Colonial revival style.
  • Be tempted by inappropriate leaded glass “Victorian” doors.
  • Apply roofing tar to your standing seam metal roof.
  • Put up new stockade fences. In most cases, iron “hairpin” fences in front and flat board fences in rear yards will be more appropriate.
  • Cut down or raise the grade when the front yard differs from the sidewalk, or cut through the front yard to a basement entrance.


Jenifer said...

Very interesting. Did they say what the fines or penalty is for violations?

Jenifer said...

Very interesting. Did they say what the fines or penalty is for violations?

Bloomingdale Resident said...

Many of these items are recommendations - not requirements. For example, it is my understanding that you can paint your house any color that you desire in DC - historic district or not.

And many of these items are controlled by DCRA, in both historic and non-historic districts.

nobodyhomehere said...

You are correct about paint color. This link has a few details. You can plant anything you want, for example. But, your sidewalk has to be approved. You may have security bars. You may have window air conditioners....