Tuesday, March 29, 2011

5 Ways Homeowners Can Help Save Historic Houses

Economic downturns are not just difficult times for people looking to make ends meet, it also creates a challenging time for historic houses. When money is tight people are under too much stress to maintain or preserve historic houses.  This is the time that many beautiful, historically important old houses are lost to demolition.

You may love your historic home and take great care of it.  But two owners down the road, there could be a different situation and the preservation of your house might come under threat.

Here are five simple and inexpensive things homeowners can do now that can help save your house down the road.

  1. Take photos of the exterior of your house and the property.  The ideal time is when you buy the house.  But if you have been living there for awhile and haven't done it yet, do it now.  This will create documentary evidence of what your house looked like now.  Do it again when you sell the house.

  2. Document and photograph any original architectural details in your home.  If you're not sure if something is original, document it anyway.  Later an expert can make the determination if necessary.  Some items may include exposed posts and beams in the attic, stair rails, paneling around fireplaces and original windows.  These items all have potential to be hidden or removed by future owners.

  3. Do Deed research.  Document the previous owners of your house. If your house comes under threat of demolition someday in the future, it will save the historical commission or other interested parties a great deal of time in determining historical significance if the deed research has already been done.

  4. Create a binder that contains all the information about your house.  A simple binder, perhaps with sheet protectors, can help preserve your house by having everything you know in one location.  Include local maps, your photos, your deed research and any information you have culled from books or your own research.

  5. Share what you know.  It's not enough to research your house.  To truly protect your house you need to share what you've learned about it.  That way, someday in the future, if your house needs protecting, preservation advocates will have the information they need to demonstrate the historical significance of your house.  Consider sharing your deed research, photos or other items with the local historical society or historical commission.
Take the time now to help safeguard your house for the future.

2 comments:

  1. These suggestions are relevant all over the world. Thank you Marian!

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  2. This is so true. I was once talking to someone who visited a house that still had the original kitchen from the early 1800s, but then a later owner of the house demolished it to make renovations to the house. So sad.

    I put together roots travel for people and the kind of information you advocate putting together would be a great find for any roots traveler.

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