When Historic Preservation Attacks!: Old people

As reported in the Washington Post.
On one side elderly people, aged 88 & 86.
On the other Historic District, age 19 years protecting house aged 74.
Does medicare cover preservation approved accessiblity options? And doesn’t the Americans with Disabilities Act trump historic preservation? As I understand it, residential buildings do not have to comply with ADA but what if the owners want it to be ADA accessible, can it trump historic preservation?

5 thoughts on “When Historic Preservation Attacks!: Old people”

  1. The truest statement made is that Historic Preservation is nothign more than a vocal minority acting as an aesthetics police. People ought to be able to do what they want with their homes.

  2. HP is a truly complicated issue & well discussed here:


    I would suggest that people visit the DC exhibit at the National Building Museum (ground floor) before dismissing HP as the “
    aesthetics police.” You will see that Shaw was very close to being leveled to make way for I395. Historic SW was razed in favor of highways and modular highrise housing. The most important function of HP is to prevent demolition of our historic buildings IMHO.

    That said, I dont have the complete facts of this case but I would hope that the board would have given great weight to the needs of an elderly couple. I dont necessarily trust the Post’s depiction of the situation.

  3. I’m very aware of Richard’s writings on historic preservation. I have a different opinion.
    Yes, I’m also aware that Shaw was in danger of becoming the next victim of eminent domain and technological hubris (building freeways everwhere ‘tude). I’ve seen the articles about how Shaw was a serious slum, with great disinvestment allowing for buildings to be destroyed in a slow fashion (poor maintenance and rough living can undo a poorly made building).
    Then saved by the grace of gentrification investment.

    Also I will admit my area of expertise is informational history (documentation, libraries & archives) with very little interest in material history in a materialistic society. And from my experience with history is that it is cumulative, this stuff builds up one on top of another. Our present is someone else’s glorius past and the past was someone’s present and future. 50-100 years from now some suburban subdivision will be held up as unique and special because G’d only knows how Americans will live in the future. Maybe Columbia, MD will be the next historic district (if it isn’t already as it shares a lot in common with Greenbelt), then Kentlands and anything we dismiss now that residents of 2076 may romaticize. Everything built now, created by a starchitect, by a well known builder, will eventually get old. Added to the land deemed historic years ago, today, next year, a few years later and decades later, add them all together what won’t be historic? What will be left to change and where do the people whose lives, and needs and wants go when they don’t mesh with with facades being frozen in time?

  4. HP presents opportunities for egotistic dilettantes to display their terrific sence of community, superior knowledge and most importantly be the neighborhood God.

  5. while historic review committess can be hugely draconian, part of the blame ought be put on poorly educated designers architects and homeowners.
    i strongly disagree with comments that suggest that homeowners should have carte blanche to do whatever they want. As industry should not have complete freedoms to strip mine or otherwise destroy the beauty of nature, not should citizens has complete power to destroy the beauty that previous generations toiled to create. in my opinion moderate laws that respect the past but acknowledge todays needs and desires are best. there is a middle ground between strict historic interpretations and anarchy.

    That said, it has come out that this particular case has been misrepresented and the historic committee claims that the plans for upgrading did not even meet proper city code. apparently the ramps were too steep for practical usage and safety. 4 designs acceptable to the committee were declined by the owner.

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