July 04, 2012

National Register of Historic Places - our July 4th Present

Yea!  We found out last night that the Enos Kellogg Homestead has been officially added by the U.S. Department of the Interior to the National Register of Historic Places. 

Coming Soon to the Front of our House

After about a year's worth of research, nomination writing, state review and, finally, national review, we're official.  Time to order the plaque (for which, sadly, we need to pay).  I will try to post the whole nomination form eventually, but for now, much of the research is included in the House History and Evolution of the House sections of the blog.

Happy Fourth of July!!




7 comments:

  1. I've been thinking about this same designation but was under the impression that to qualify, the building needed to have been occupied by a historical character i.e. George Washington. Looking over your published home's history, looks like you only need to be able to trace the home's history to qualify. Was there more to the application? Any pitfalls? Were there any expenses other than the plaque? Where did you get the application form? I checked on CT's site for historic preservation for their registry application but the one topic the keeps coming up was grants for commercial properties. Sorry for all the questions, it's pretty exciting though.

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    1. Steve, the qualifications for the National Register are fairly rigorous - beyond being able to trace the history. A structure can qualify based on any one of four ctriteria: 1) it "is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to broad patterns of our history" 2) "it is associated with the lives of persons signifiant in our past" (The "Washington Slept Here" criteria) 3) it "embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction or represents the work of a master, or possesses high artistic value, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components lack individual distinction", or 4)"has yielded or is likely to yield information important in prehistory or history".

      Our house (and most structures on the Register) qualified on criteria 3 - the architectural importance criteria. Specifically, our house is unusually well-preserved for an 18th century farm house, and illustrates an inflection point in architectural design and construction techniques in the years around the American Revolution. The application is a bear - most people hire a consultant, but I was able to do mine myself as I had done lots and lots of research on the house already, had input from an architectural historian, and has a friend who does these professionally and gave me lots of free advice and did my photos for me. Applications get submitted to the state, and staff at the CT Commission on Culture and Tourism review them. If they approve, they go before the State Historic Preservation Board for review, and i they approve, they send them on for federal review. It took about a year from start to finish to pepare our application and have it work through the system. The application is free, but you need specific paper and photo prints, which costs a bit. Of course, it also costs if you hire a pro to do the research and application. Here is the link for the application. Our completed nomination is here if you want an example: http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/feature/weekly_features/2012/enos_kellogg_house.pdf

      I would be happy to put you in touch with Stacey Vairo, who is the National Register Coordinator for Connecticut, if you want to talk to her about your house.

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  2. Congratulations! Very exciting news. I just found your blog while doing a google search for blogs on this very topic. Our home does not have such a history as yours, but we would also like to apply for this designation under the 3rd criterion.

    Thanks for posting your full nomination! I will be reading through it to get an idea of what a "winning" application sounds like ;) I will also be going through your archives to learn more about your process.

    Beautiful home! Cheers!
    modernefixer.wordpress.com

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    1. Thanks, Amanda! Your streamline looks awesome. Good luck wth the project!

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    2. Thanks, John! If you don't mind, I have a few questions:
      -When you and Jenny first purchased the home, did you have it mind to eventually apply for state/federal historic designation? I noticed you originally wanted the designation to be able to apply for grants to restore the barn, but I'm curious if you had it in mind from the get-go.
      Along those same lines...
      -Did you start your restoration process with the Federal Preservation Guidelines in mind, or did you become aware of those later? The reason I ask is because I want to know if you think that helped make your nomination more legit.
      -Did the review boards say anything about your non-historically accurate windows?
      -With the new designation, have you encountered any "demands" from the registry?
      Our current dilemma: We would like to buy wood replacement windows for our Streamline, but we're trying to decide if we should splurge on historically accurate windows if it will increase our chances of getting on the register. We don't want to spend the extra money if we end up being denied but we also don't want to buy cheaper windows and be forced to change them out later. EEK!

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    3. Hi Amanda,

      When we bought the house, the National Register (or any other designation) wasn't even a thought. We just wanted a cool house. So, we never considered grants (which is fine, as I have subsequently learned that we do not qualify for any based on where we live). I don't think that I was even aware of the Secretary of the Interior's guidelines for restoration until 4-5 years into our restoration. Happily, our guiding principle was always to take the house back to the most original elements. We never threw away anything that could be saved, and were very sensitive to the house as an 18th century structure. That we kept the house intact certainly helped our nomination, as we preserved all of the extant original fabric that we could (some plaster walls were beyond repair and had to be rebuilt).

      On the windows, no one has ever had an issue with the replacements. We replaced bad 20th century ones with better 21st century ones. Had we gotten rid of 18th or 19th century material, I'm sure it would have been less well received. Actually, I'm the biggest critic of our windiws - I would love to have authentic replacements, but with 30 windows it just wasn't economically viable. We did go with all wood, true divided light double hungs with a period 12 over 12 pattern to make the best of the situation, aesthetically.

      For us, there are no demands associated with the Register. The federal government imposes none on individual structures, so we could demolish the house if we wanted to. Our town has in place a delay period prior to demolition of listed properties, but it sadly wouldn't necessarily prevent demolition. Similarly, we could put up purple vinyl siding and replace our windows with portholes and no one could prevent it if it met zoning standards. There are no requiremnts to retain anything, and no review board for us (this is not the case in some towns).

      On your windows, it depends on how many you have and what you can afford. Getting the widows right makes a huge difference to the look of a house. If you have originals that are in bad shape, I would seriouly consider having someone restore them professionally. A good restorer can work miracles, and they can usually be made almost as efficient as modern replacements. And once the originals are gone, an important detail is lost forever. It might also make sense to splurge on the front windows and maybe later go back and upgrade the others. I would also ask an architectural historian for his advice on your house specifically, and the importance of the windows to its historic value (if they have already been messed with, it might no be a major issue). Good luck!

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    4. Thanks for your detailed response, John! It was very helpful. We have only one set of original windows that we plan to restore. The other original windows were replaced in the late 1960s. I've also heard that advice elsewhere to replace the front windows with historically accurate ones and work our way to the others later. Lots to consider!

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