Are Historic Standards Destroying Historic Districts?

False Historicism Standing incongruously in one of Richmond VA's most historic districts, this metal clad structure presents a stark contrast to its antebellum neighbors. It is part of a project that received historic tax credits.

If your property is in a historic district or if you are seeking Historic Tax Credits, certain alterations/additions must be approved. This typically means a review board will apply the Sec. of the Interior Standards to your proposed work. Often these boards insist on distinguishing architecturally between what is historic and what is new?meaning traditional design solutions are denied and contemporary ones required even when they are incompatible with the historic character of the property and surrounding area. Perversely, property owners are told to avoid changes that appear "too authentic" or could be mistaken for "having always been there."

View this presentation of the damaging consequences of requiring that alterations, infill, and additions in historic districts reflect the present and not the past. Then, send us your comments on how best to preserve for posterity our rich built environment when regulatory bodies require us to rebuff history.

View our Video on False Historicism

This presentation was reformatted for online accessibility. In doing so, the quality of the images has been compromised. However, our goal is gain maximum exposure for the issues in an effort to address a serious preservation challenge. We hope the content is clear and apologize for any difficulties in viewing.

"Differentiated and Compatible: The Secretary's Standards Revised" by Steven W. Semes Reprinted from Traditional Building, Feb. 2009

Commentary: How Guidelines Threaten Historic Areas

Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 22, 2009