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Blanco County Historical Commission
Restoration: the Local Approach
Wednesday, January 8, 2014 • Posted January 10, 2014

By Rudy Nino

When the property's design, architectural, or historical significance during a particular period of time outweighs the potential loss of extant materials, features, spaces, and finishes that characterize other historical periods; when there is substantial physical and documentary evidence for the work; and when contemporary alterations and additions are not planned, restoration may be considered as a treatment. Prior to undertaking work, a particular period of time, i.e., the restoration period, should be selected and justified, and a documentation plan for restoration developed.

Choosing Restoration as a Treatment

Rather than maintaining and preserving a building as it has evolved over time, the expressed goal of the Standards for Restoration and Guidelines for Restoring Historic Buildings is to make the building appear as it did at a particular--and most significant--time in its history. First, those materials and features from the "restoration period" are identified, based on thorough historical research. Next, features from the restoration period are maintained, protected, repaired (i.e., stabilized, consolidated, and conserved), and replaced, if necessary. As opposed to other treatments, the scope of work in restoration can include removal of features from other periods; missing features from the restoration period may be replaced, based on documentary and physical evidence, using traditional materials or compatible substitute materials. The final guidance emphasizes that only those designs that can be documented as having been built should be re-created in a restoration project.

Identify, Retain, and Preserve Materials and Features from the Restoration Period

The guidance for the treatment restoration begins with recommendations to identify the form and detailing of those existing architectural materials and features that are significant to the restoration period as established by historical research and documentation. Thus, guidance on identifying, retaining, and preserving features from the restoration period is always given first. The historic building's appearance may be defined by the form and detailing of its exterior materials, such as masonry, wood, and metal; exterior features, such as roofs, porches, and windows; interior materials, such as plaster and paint; and interior features, such as moldings and stairways, room configuration and spatial relationships, as well as structural and mechanical systems; and the building's site and setting.

Protect and Maintain Materials and Features from the Restoration Period

After identifying those existing materials and features from the restoration period that must be retained in the process of restoration work, then protecting and maintaining them is addressed. Protection generally involves the least degree of intervention and is preparatory to other work. For example, protection includes the maintenance of historic material through treatments such as rust removal, caulking, limited paint removal, and re-application of protective coatings; the cyclical cleaning of roof gutter systems; or installation of fencing, alarm systems and other temporary protective measures. Although a historic building will usually require more extensive work, an overall evaluation of its physical condition should always begin at this level.

Information above was provided by the National Park Service. Future articles will cover standards, practices, regulations, and how to’s.

Remodeling, restoration, new additions, carports, pergolas, signage, and so on within the Blanco Historic District must have a Certificate of Appropriateness issued by the Blanco Historic Commission at the City Hall on Pecan St at the square.

For more information on the City of Blanco ordinance, log onto: http://www.blancoguide.com/

On design guidelines log onto: http://www.blancoguide.com/design/. Design Guidelines help’s the Blanco Historic Preservation Commission (BHPC) with renovation/construction requests in the downtown historic district, which encompasses the 9 blocks that make up the square.

Rudy Nino, a local resident, is a remodeler-builder member and advisor to the City of Blanco Historic Commission.

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