Commission turns down request to replace metal roof on historic home

Commission turns down request to replace metal roof on historic home

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Three cases before the Commission of Architectural Review on Thursday got mixed reviews from the commissioners, with one being turned down, one approved with a change and another approved with one aspect of the request tabled.

Robert Freeman, on behalf of owner Raleigh Wright, asked for permission to replace metal roofing over the front porch of 879 Pine St. with three-tab shingles to match the main roof of the house. Freeman said they could keep the metal roof on a “teardrop” section, but wanted to eliminate the badly damaged hidden gutters.

Commissioner Susan Stilwell was familiar with the history of the house, noting it is the last remaining home in the historic district patterned after the style of Andrew Jackson Downing, a Victorian-era landscape architect who also designed houses and wrote books about architecture.

“It’s a rare house … it would be serious to change anything on the façade of the house,” Stilwell said, noting that even if the CAR approved the change, the state Department of Historic Resources could require the house be returned to its original façade.

The commissioners voted unanimously against the requested change.

Reginald Crews, owner of the fourplex at 153-155 Holbrook Ave., asked permission to put a shed in the backyard of the building to hold ladders, lawnmower and other items.

The sample Crews showed was of a 10-by-12 foot white shed, which he said he planned to place on concrete blocks rather than on a poured foundation.

Since the lack of a poured foundation makes such a building temporary and easy to remove, commissioners approved the request, though they did stipulate the building needed to be a dark brown rather than white, so it would be less noticeable from the street.

The final case reviewed had three parts, all of which were ruled on separately.

Lawrence Meder asked for permission to remove three windows at the rear of 407 Chestnut St., install two stained glass windows on the right side of the house to light an internal stairway and to construct a concrete and red clay brick seat on the right side of the front porch.

Meder said the rear of the house was “cobbled onto the house” long after the original home was built. He said the windows do not have headers and weakened the structure of the house when they were installed.

Stilwell also was familiar with this building, noting much of the work done to convert it from a small cottage into a duplex was done “with no construction expertise.”

Commissioners determined the change could not be detrimental to the neighborhood or affect the façade of the house, so they approved removing the windows.

Commissioners also approved the installation of stained glass windows to light a staircase, but questioned the installation of a permanent bench on the front porch.

Meder said the end of the porch is open and there is a 4-foot drop to the ground, which is dangerous — “I don’t even like to jump off there,” he said.

But a new addition to the porch would have to meet current building codes, which could mean Meder would not be able to build the bench at a height to match the height of existing design elements on the porch.

Meder said he might do better to find a pre-built bench and bolt it to the floor of the porch, and commissioners encouraged him to take that option since it would not be considered new construction.

The request was tabled and will be dropped if Meder is able to find a suitable pre-built bench.

Thibodeau reports for the Danville Register & Bee.

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