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Subject: midcentury resources in local districts

  • midcentury modern

1.  midcentury resources in local districts

Posted 16 days ago
Hello! I am writing to see if anyone has had success adding mid-century resources, or other buildings of exceptional significance, to local historic districts with periods of significance that fall outside the mid-century/modern era. Specifically, if the incorporation of mid-century buildings as contributors has occurred in districts that are significant due to their Victorian era associations, and/or have "Victorian" in their name, these stories and strategies in particular could be of benefit to Savannah.

Thank you.

Rebecca Fenwick
Historic Preservation Specialist
phone 336.682.5196


2.  RE: midcentury resources in local districts

Posted 14 days ago
I'll be interested to see how others respond to this question. Typically if a resource falls outside the existing period of significance it needs to be designated on its own merit. If they are exceptionally significant, that shouldn't be too hard. Otherwise the period of significance would need to be extended to include the midcentury.

There might be some older district designations that didn't call out all properties with associated contributing/noncontributing status or perhaps they had periods of significance that ran from the 1800s to the "present." But when I've come across those in the past (typically with NRHP nominations, not local designations), I've always attempted to determine the original intent based on the documentation at hand.

I hope a few more people weigh in on their experience with local designations related to this topic. Landmark laws can vary from community to community.

Barbara

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Barbara Howard
Stonebridge Learning, LLC
Minneapolis MN
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3.  RE: midcentury resources in local districts

Posted 11 days ago
If the local guidelines for listing a property follow the National Register process, there is a means by which a property that independently meets the NR criteria can be included as a contributing resource in a historic district, without extending the POS. (NR Bulletin, page 16). If there are a lot of mid-century resources, however, it may be worth revising the Inventory, Statement of Significance, and POS to include them.


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Devin Colman
State Architectural Historian
Vermont Division for Historic Preservation
Montpelier VT
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4.  RE: midcentury resources in local districts

Posted 11 days ago
Very true, Devin. As long as the mid-century resource stands on its own, has its own period of significance, and the case is made as part of an amended significance narrative, that should work. I don't know whether anyone has amended a NR district nomination to include a resource in this way. If so, perhaps Rebecca could use that as an example for similar action on a local designation. Edson Beall at the National Park Service might be able to work his magic in their records to find something.

Barbara

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Barbara Howard
Stonebridge Learning, LLC
Minneapolis MN
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5.  RE: midcentury resources in local districts

Posted 9 days ago
Thank you for this insight! I agree with all the points made thus far. I think we will be moving toward an education and support-generating campaign to add more lots as contributing, with exceptional significance in mind. Although it wouldn't be out of the question to do an overlay with a later period of significance, I just don't think this is feasible in the short term and we are facing some very real development pressures that could forever alter the district. If there was another district (whether local or national) somewhere that had a Victorian era period of significance with contributing resources from later periods, ideally added later to an existing listing, that would be very helpful to our cause as an on-the-ground example. Hearts and minds! Thanks.

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Rebecca Fenwick
Lominack Kolman Smith Architects
Savannah GA
(336)682-5196
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6.  RE: midcentury resources in local districts

Posted 8 days ago
The later resource within a district with different architectural resources was discussed at a Part 1 tax credit reviewer training held by the NPS this summer. Jim Gabbert presented a couple of examples where this has been successfully done. The one I recall off the top of my head was a Craftsman neighborhood in Oklahoma that also has a Bruce Goff house. Several Georgia SHPO staff were at that training.

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Caroline Wright
Texas Historical Commission
Austin TX
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7.  RE: midcentury resources in local districts

Posted 8 days ago
Hi,
Just to let you know, back in 2015, the City of Allegan, Michigan, extended the period of significance for the downtown historic district to the period 1945-1965 in order to include several Mid-Century Modern buildings inserted during that time period as well as several Mid-C Mod. first floor facades added to Victorian era commercial buildings.  The owner's had requested the amendment to the historic district in order to participate in the City's facade improvement program.  The State HPO approved the amendment.

Patrick Hudson, former HDC Administrator for Allegan

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Patrick Hudson
Kalamazoo MI
(616)349-6821
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8.  RE: midcentury resources in local districts

Posted 8 days ago
Edited by Jennifer Bailey Williams 8 days ago
The resource in Oklahoma that Jim Gabbert referenced during training is the Ledbetter House in Norman.  It was designed by Bruce Goff, built in 1949, and is individually listed in the National Register.   It is located within the Chautauqua Historic District, which has a POS of 1925-1932. The Chautauqua Historic District is a locally-designated district; it is not listed in the National Register. Thus, I wonder if the Ledbetter House was the best example...?  If the Chautauqua Historic District were ever to be listed, it doesn't mean that the Ledbetter house would automatically be a contributing resource simply because it individually met NR criteria.  If the end of the district's POS remained at 1932, then the OK SHPO would still list the Ledbetter House as non-contributing in the district.

If the resource meets NR criteria by itself, then you'll have to do the same amount of research to justify it as contributing to a district as you would to list it individually.  It's probably just easier to list it individually.  At the end of the day, this is a practice that you'll have to discuss with the National Register coordinator(s) at your SHPO.

But even if the building's status in the NR district is changed to contributing, the status change alone wouldn't prevent demolition.  I know Savannah has a local ordinance and is a CLG.  Because there is development pressure in the district, you should check with the Planning Department if there's anything about requiring a regulated area's boundaries and POS to match the NR boundaries and POS.  A local district can have boundaries and and a POS that differ from the National Register boundaries and POS.  If the district is regulated, then the zoning ordinance applies to everything within that regulated district boundary, unless the ordinance has specific language stating non-contributing buildings in historic districts are exempt from the regulation and/or the individual owner receives a variance.  Most municipalities with regulated historic districts require CoAs for changes within those areas, even for non-contributing resources.

I hope this helps.

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Jennifer K. Bailey
Historic Preservation Specialist
Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office
Oklahoma City, OK
405-522-4479
jbailey@okhistory.org
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