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mpchicago

East Hills/Eastown Housing Stock

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There are some pockets of the East Hills area (Fairmount Square, and Wealthy Theatre District) that are designated Historic, but should more of the East Hills and Eastown area be added to the list? There is a huge stock of wonderful early 20th Century Craftsman, Shingle Style, and American Four Square homes that populate the entire area. These homes are now 100 or are approaching 100 years in age, and have become very popular around the nation. Do these homes need to be protected? Would such a designation help generate more interest in the area?

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There are some pockets of the East Hills area (Fairmount Square, and Wealthy Theatre District) that are designated Historic, but should more of the East Hills and Eastown area be added to the list? There is a huge stock of wonderful early 20th Century Craftsman, Shingle Style, and American Four Square homes that populate the entire area. These homes are now 100 or are approaching 100 years in age, and have become very popular around the nation. Do these homes need to be protected? Would such a designation help generate more interest in the area?

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Do these homes need to be protected? Would such a designation help generate more interest in the area?

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Having lived in England most of my life, I'd argue that 100 years isn't that old (my elementary school had it's centenary when I was attending it over 30 years ago and my gran lived in a house built in the 16th century) and most of the homes designated "historic" are simply crumbling piles, some of which are eyesores.

I know I won't find many sympathizers, but I think a better plan in these cases would be to level the oldest of them and rebuild with something more substantial than sticks so they can stand for 500+ years without falling apart next time. I am looking to buy a house at the moment, and I'm purposely steering well clear of anything designated "historic" because of the limitations that puts upon anyone trying to fix them up and the extra expense in doing so. I know tax credits are available, but there's only so much you can do with these properties :scared:

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Having lived in England most of my life, I'd argue that 100 years isn't that old (my elementary school had it's centenary when I was attending it over 30 years ago and my gran lived in a house built in the 16th century) and most of the homes designated "historic" are simply crumbling piles, some of which are eyesores.

I know I won't find many sympathizers, but I think a better plan in these cases would be to level the oldest of them and rebuild with something more substantial than sticks so they can stand for 500+ years without falling apart next time. I am looking to buy a house at the moment, and I'm purposely steering well clear of anything designated "historic" because of the limitations that puts upon anyone trying to fix them up and the extra expense in doing so. I know tax credits are available, but there's only so much you can do with these properties :scared:

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Having lived in England most of my life, I'd argue that 100 years isn't that old (my elementary school had it's centenary when I was attending it over 30 years ago and my gran lived in a house built in the 16th century) and most of the homes designated "historic" are simply crumbling piles, some of which are eyesores.

I know I won't find many sympathizers, but I think a better plan in these cases would be to level the oldest of them and rebuild with something more substantial than sticks so they can stand for 500+ years without falling apart next time. I am looking to buy a house at the moment, and I'm purposely steering well clear of anything designated "historic" because of the limitations that puts upon anyone trying to fix them up and the extra expense in doing so. I know tax credits are available, but there's only so much you can do with these properties :scared:

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Are you saying the oldest homes should be demolished and built from stone? I don't think you'd find any builders who would take on that task. Especially on a mass scale. And then once they were built, no one would be able to afford them. :dontknow:

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I think we need to be careful when designating things are historical and worth saving. Saving a house 'just because its old' has little merit in my mind. It might be old but does that mean it was a good example of the style? of the period? Just like people building crap now, people built crap back then too. I'm not a fan of 'neighborhood designations' because it creates so many barriers for people that want to bring the neighborhood out of the past and into the future. Sometimes demo'ing a house and building something new is a good thing! I think historical designations should be very case by case and not blanked by an overall rule.

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I've come to realize that there are a lot of misconceptions about Historic Districts and the restrictions by our HPC and the Secretary of Interior Standards. I don't know who's out there spreading these rumors, but I've heard some ridiculous things. Most recently, somebody told me that they didn't want to buy a house in Heritage Hill because it was a multi-family and the HPC would require him to convert it back to a single-family home. NOT TRUE. I think that I have to correct peoples' misconceptions on a weekly basis. From my experience dealing in historic areas, there's not too much outside of the norm. Yes, material choice has to be carefully considered. Refinishing is generally preferable over replacement (which is the GREEN thing to do too). You may be somewhat restricted with windows, siding, and porches, but I will argue that these restrictions are a good thing for the city and the homeowner. The houses look better, the materials/practices are more sustainable, the value of the house is higher and generally more secure, and so on.

In my dealings with historic property, the only difference is having somebody from the HPC come out to the property before you start working. The staff is willing to approve many items and recommend materials/construction practices that are both historic and cost-effective. Most should be able to be done without ever going in front of the commission. Also, these restrictions only apply to the exterior of the building.

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I think we need to be careful when designating things are historical and worth saving. Saving a house 'just because its old' has little merit in my mind. It might be old but does that mean it was a good example of the style? of the period? Just like people building crap now, people built crap back then too. I'm not a fan of 'neighborhood designations' because it creates so many barriers for people that want to bring the neighborhood out of the past and into the future. Sometimes demo'ing a house and building something new is a good thing! I think historical designations should be very case by case and not blanked by an overall rule.

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I think Historic designations are perfect for certain areas but should not be over used. You can do excellent rehab work without using historic materials. There is all sorts of polywood finishes that look darn near the real wood, etc. I think a better idea would be to create neighborhood associations that have some control over what gets built, demo, etc., but does not restrict materials used without considering the end product. Having a home in HH I often wish I could use newer materials that would look nearly identical to painted wood (and make the home look fresh), but I am forced to paint my worn out exterior every 2 or 3 years and/or spend a load of money replacing the exterior. I think the end product needs to be considered and there needs to be less emphasis on the legalistic tendancy historic designations enforce (but certain areas are perfect for this).

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Having a home in HH I often wish I could use newer materials that would look nearly identical to painted wood (and make the home look fresh), but I am forced to paint my worn out exterior every 2 or 3 years and/or spend a load of money replacing the exterior. I think the end product needs to be considered and there needs to be less emphasis on the legalistic tendancy historic designations enforce (but certain areas are perfect for this).

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In most cases you are correct, but if the wood siding is old and has layers of old paint on it, no matter how much prep is done, there will be peeling, cracking, etc that wouldn't happen with new materials. Plus the paint (no matter the quality) will not correct flaws in the very old siding. I'm not complaining. I knew what I was getting into when I bought in HH...I am simply saying that designating areas as Historic can be more of a problem then a soltuion to rehab and should be reserved for only those areas that really fit the mold (East Hills and Eastown are not those areas). If I knew that I could rehab a home in HH using newer materials at a lower price (and keep them in the historic character) I would be willing to buy more. At this point it is hard to cost justify buying a "fixer upper" (and there are more than a few that fall into this category in HH)

Every two or three years?? With thorough preparation and quality paint, you should be getting 7 to 10 years out of a paint job. Even dark colors on the sunny side should last almost as long. My first house (in HH) was dark red, dark green w/ black sash (1890's era color scheme). I redid the south side after six years and the other sides one year at a time. I am glad my current historic home is brick and stucco but the window sashes (dark green) didn't need repainting for ten years.

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I know of a few couples that have lost interest in purchasing certain historic homes because of the regulations and strict guidelines that the associations put on any rehabbing or construction within the neighborhood. Granted, there are programs that you can qualify for to get help with the outlandish cots involved, but for the most part owning a historic home has a huge cost drawback. This area being dicussed here should first focus on filling homes with families that can care for such a house and not rely on renters or landlords to do so.

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Granted, there are programs that you can qualify for to get help with the outlandish costs involved, but for the most part owning a historic home has a huge cost drawback. This area being discussed here should first focus on filling homes with families that can care for such a house and not rely on renters or landlords to do so.

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Personally I wouldn't live in an area or neighborhood that didn't have some kind of architectural control standards. I've lived in both situations and I've found when "anything goes", everything does. What many people don't realize is that the extra cost is usually associated with higher return on your investment if you ever resell. And in the city proper where schools have a reputation, those areas need another incentive to get some kind of boost in home ownership, which usually results in better upkeep.

But I know it's a sticky topic that can be argued both ways. Homeownership also has to be affordable for the middle class, which is seeing incomes shrink.

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I agree with that although living in historic areas can be a burden to those who can't afford to do so. It enhances a neighborhood for the better. I dont think however that these areas should be designated historic now because the people living in the neighborhood shouldnt suddenly have to conform to historic building codes. It might push some to move who cannot afford to do this.

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Rhino earlier mentioned the many misconceptions about historic district ownership. "Outlandish costs"

is one of those misconceptions. I haven't seen any "huge cost drawbacks" in my three historic houses, or in the houses of my neighbors, especially considering the space, character, and craftsmanship. As to "filling homes with families", about 75% of the homes in Cherry Hill are owner occupied; some of those homes have rental units as well, reducing the real cost of ownership.

The more existing infrastructure we save(and upgrade) the less resources we have to waste on sprawl.

Isn't that what LEED and the 'greening" movement is all about?

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Not as much as properly maintained original wood windows made of old growth, denser wood than even the best new windows, in combination with good storm sash. I made wood storms with double

strength glass cost equivalent to high end aluminum storms. Most do-it-yoursefers and any competent carpenter can do the same.

They call 'em replacement windows because you (or the next owner) is gonna end up replacing them eventually, "warranty" notwithstanding. Lots of junk out there masquerading as energy efficient; they end up taking up space in landfills. "When we we ever learn.......".

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Most energy loss is not at the windows, but rather through the roof. Insulating the attic space is far better than gutting the house of its valuable old growth wood windows. Always. No exceptions.

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Most energy loss is not at the windows, but rather through the roof. Insulating the attic space is far better than gutting the house of its valuable old growth wood windows. Always. No exceptions.

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That is if the old growth windows are in good shape, normally they aren't. When they rot they allow cold air in, thus all those windows you see with plastic on them in the winter. I prefer the look and feel of well maintained wood windows, and would never recommend putting vinyl windows in a house where they wouldn't look o.k. A twenty year life span on a window isn't bad either by the way.

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Do these homes need to be protected? Would such a designation help generate more interest in the area?

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