Historic Districts are Working for You

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Sean Stucker, Director of Facilities

There has been recent concern over local historic district regulations in certain Columbia neighborhoods. Specifically, some Columbia citizens are concerned over the process owners must follow to renovate or make changes to their historic properties.

Historic Columbia understands how certain regulations might be seen as challenging in the short term, but when dealing with historic properties, it’s important to focus on the long-term benefits.

One major advantage for historic places is property value, plain and simple. National and local studies have shown that properties located in designated historic districts have values above average for their corresponding market. Since the value of your home is directly proportional to the value of your neighbor’s home, following consistent guidelines holds everyone to a higher standard.

There is a savings value as well. For example, repairing existing historic wooden windows is a more cost effective and environmentally-friendly way of maintaining your home.

While vinyl windows are guaranteed to begin failing within 20-30 years after installation, wood windows can be repaired and maintained, and as a result, can last for hundreds of years.

In addition to the value arguments, historic societies and districts have a positive community impact because they give us a unique “sense of place.” Old neighborhoods and their buildings, serve as the tangible backdrop for stories and memories. There is a reason people fall in love with these kinds of places. There’s a reason Soda City Market started in one historic building (701 Whaley) and moved into the heart of a historic district where it (and its home district) has thrived.

The idea people don’t like being told what they can and cannot do with their property has a long history in the Unites States, but the practice of regulating property and its uses has an equally long history. Take, for example, zoning. Most of us think it is a good idea to designate certain property uses away from or in relation to others, and as a result, almost all urban areas in this country have some form of zoning regulations.

There’s also the matter of homeowner associations. HOAs are permitted to place restrictions on things ranging from pet ownership to the types of flags owners can fly outside their homes, from what colors homes can be painted to how tall grass is supposed to be. HOAs can also play a role in the determination of which additions should be made to a house.

Every investment has pros and cons and should be considered through the lens of a cost-benefit analysis. In the case of our built and cultural heritage, the evidence favors preservation.

Check out some images of successful preservation projects in Shandon, Hollywood Rose Hill and Melrose Heights. Also look out for Historic Columbia’s Preservation Workshop series coming up in the spring.

This article was originally published in The Columbia Star.

 

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From Columbia’s Front Porches

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By Lois Carlisle

In 2009, Historic Columbia began an initiative called Connecting Communities through History, which aimed to do exactly what it says—to bring people together by sharing the stories from their own back yards. In the South, you’ll often find folks on their front porches. Some may say hello, some may throw up a hand in greeting, others stop you to talk. This is true of each of Columbia’s neighborhoods. Here are a few friendly faces you might meet on your next Sunday stroll—
John and Victoria Dozier live in the 1900 block of Henderson Street in the Robert Mills Historic District. The Mills district boasts some of the oldest and most elegantly-designed homes in the city. The Doziers’ house is no exception. Their home, built in 1890, has been in the same family for six generations. The 1900 block was one of the first blocks in Columbia where prominent African American families lived. The Doziers recently received commendation at HC’s Annual Preservation Awards for restorations recently completed on their house. “It was definitely the experience of a lifetime,” said John. “Our hope is that our children will pass it to their children.”
Erika Ryan lives in Cottontown, which lies between Elmwood, North Main, and Bull Street. Last summer, she moved into a house on Marion St. She’s glad to have relocated to the neighborhood when she did. “Since I moved in last June, the businesses on Franklin have really taken off,” she told me. The War Mouth, a barbeque restaurant and bar, and Indah Coffee have generated an increase in foot traffic since their opening. “And we’re supposed to be getting a brewery down the street, too,” Ryan said. “I really love living within walking distance of places that are becoming local main-stays.”
Jessa Ross lives off Oak Street in Lower Waverly. She likes the village feel of the neighborhood—newer housing complexes make her feel alienated and distant from the people she lives next to. “I love the houses in Lower Waverly and that all of our neighbors talk to one another,” she said. “We watch out for one another. The other day, our across-the-street neighbor told a guy to get out of our yard, but it ended up being a man our landlord hired to do yardwork. It’s eyes on the street, you know. It’s what makes this a great community.”
If you’d like to get out and greet these porch-goers yourself, Historic Columbia has you covered. We offer self-guided walking tours, group tours once each month, digital web-based neighborhood tours, and a host of other ways to get out an interact in the Columbia community. For more information, please visit our website at historiccolumbia.org/take-a-tour.

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HC’s director of cultural resources, John Sherrer gives a tour through the Historic Waverly neighborhood.

 

 

This piece was originally published in The Columbia Star on May 12, 2017.

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