I was hoping to do a survey, but don't see that feature on here, so hopefully people will just post their 2 cents --
I've been doing research on and off as time permits on the construction/ownership of my house, in order to get a historic home plaque from my city's historic board. I was talking to a coworker about this today, who purchased a "historic" home in a historic district of another town, and she feels it's really limiting as a homeowner, and wishes the home didn't have that distinction. She & her husband actually are going to gut the historic home on the property, turn it into a 3-car garage, and build a brand new home (much larger) behind it. The town is allowing it (for future tax revenue, I am guessing).
The idea that a future owner of this house would be turned off because it had a historic marker on it hadn't crossed my mind. I couldn't imagine why someone would want to own this house if they weren't interested in old houses with character. I guess there's always the chance someone's just looking for an income property.
Anyway... just wondering if you...
a) Purchased your home with such a plaque already on it, and think it's a good thing
b) Purchased an old home with a plaque on it, and think it's NOT a good thing (and why)
c) Got a plaque for your home yourself, or are working on it (would love to know how that process is going for you, esp determining the appropriate name & year)
d) Purchased an old home without a plaque and wouldn't get one (and why)
Here in my city, the HDC awards the historic house plaques at the completion of a renovation, at the request of the property owner. Usually it's once at least the exterior of the home is complete, and there's a mini-ceremony in front of the home with an article/photo in the paper. Some people want the plaque, others don't.
I think the main thing to consider is whether the home is already included in a national register historic district (or a state district for that matter), or if you would be trying to list your home individually. The plaque signifies that there was something historic enough in nature (be it architecture, construction techniques, or residents) of that home to warrant its being protected. But it's only a plaque. What people don't realize often times is that whether you put the plaque on your home or not, if the house is in a historic district the city and/or HDC and/or state is going to be able to govern to a certain extent (in Louisiana it's the exterior of the home) what you can and cannot do to the home.
I will most certainly be putting the plaque on my home when it's complete...and encourage anyone else who guts it out through a tireless renovation to do the same.
Anyway, plaques are plaques, as mentioned. The real restrictions come from inclusion within the historic district. Also, there may be deed restrictions on the property itself, which are separate from inclusion or exclusion in a historic district. These carry much more legal weight, and litigation can follow from ignoring them.
I guess any restriction would be "limiting" if you wanted to turn a house into a garage. If you want a new home, buy or build a new home. I don't understand the mentality behind trying to make something into something it isn't. People always want to live in quaint historic districts, but never want to comply with the restrictions. Even though the reason its "quaint and charming" is because of those very restrictions. Everyone wants to be able to do whatever they want with the house they own, but they all get upset when a walgreens is built next door.
We just received a plaque for our home here in New Philadelphia ohio. Here, the plaque doesn't have as much restriction on it. By that I mean, if we or anyone else would change the house in such a way to make it unplaquable(is that a word?), all that would happen is they come and take the plaque back. It's like a slap on the wrist. For us though we wanted the plaque as it was more a recognition of all the work that we put into the house.
I would hope that the next owner would be drawn to our home by an appreciation for this home itself and wouldn't want to change it in any way that would affect the plaqued designation. But I'd hope that even if we didn't have a plaque on the home. Why would anyone buy an historic property to turn it into a garage??? No respect.
I would love to get a plaque for the house and put it the historic restrictions on it.. just to preserve it. I know a lot of old houses in our neighborhood has kind of suffered in a way and I would hate for it to happen to our house (or any house) especially after we put all the work into it to get it to look the way we think it should.
It is a turn off for some people though, bec they want to change things around (sometimes not for the better for an old house). I just figure, if you want to change stuff in a house so much, just buy a newer house. :)
"I would hope that the next owner would be drawn to our home by an appreciation for this home itself and wouldn't want to change it in any way that would affect the plaqued designation."
- same here!! (my hope would be continuation of our intentions/efforts, and not reversal!!)
As a tourist I love the plaques - they give me an anchor right away to understanding the town: names I may see again on streets or public buildings, dates. Sometimes a description confirms my suspicions, like the plain house that was a way-station and inn beside the river where the ferry crossed. Now a bridge runs high above and the road beside the house is a dead end.
My experience in NH, Mass. and VT has been that the plaques are strictly voluntary, put up by people with pride in their house's history. They might even be called vanity plates - fun for us, unimportant to others
We have the bronze National Register plaques denoting a place that has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This confers no actual protection, but simply makes it eligible for protection from other local sources. This is evidence by the LEED program gut renovation perfomed on the Joseph Story house. Basically the shape of the building and the outer brick walls, with some of the more notable interior trim are all that is left. Some people will apply for a NR plaque to make a case that a house that isn't included in a district should be. The National Register nomination provides historical "proof" of a building's siginificance.
The other plaques are from Historic Salem Inc., which is our non-government non-profit local historical society. They offer the plaques as a paid for service, the goal being to tell you when the house was built, by whom, and what they did. These plaques can be seen all over Salem, and do not have to coincide with the historic district. Some people who are proud of their older homes put up their own plaques as well. Houses are eligible if they are built before 1914, the year we had a disastrous fire which permanently alerted the character of the city.
Inclusion of a building in a local historic district is not noted anywhere. Some places have signs indicating that you are in a district, but there are no plaques or visible indication of which houses are or aren't in the district. In Salem, inclusion in the district is the only city designation which carries with it restrictions. The building department has these maps.
There are also plaques that were set up at the 300th anniversary of Salem, indicating where famous people lived, what used to be here, etc. These are not usually on the building that they are honoring, but are attached to the building that now occupies the site. I don't know what happens or who is involved if one of these plaques needs to be removed. I haven't seen it happen.
Some people have plaques because they are proud of the house or bought one with one already. Some people buy a house and remove the plaque (happens all the time). Some plaques, like the NR bronze types, are really well attached to the buildings and don't go anywhere. Some people don't want to get one because they pay for it. some dont' want it because they erroneously believe it then places restrictions on their house, which they don't want or fear it will hurt their resale value. Some people alse erroneously believe that removing the plaque removes the restrictions, or that others will forget it's in the district if they aren't reminded. Some just fall off.
This is Salem. In other towns, the histoic society is run by the town, and the plaques are the indication of protection. Some don't even really have historic districts. In short, each community handles this in their own way. From methods and level of protection to rules about inclusion and allowing changes. Some places, like Nantucket, control almost every aspect of every building, even new ones, in their community. Some have plaque programs, but have no functioning historic commission, so their is no oversight at all of changes. To further complicate it , every state is also different.
I think they get a bad rap because people missunderstand what they mean and really signify. As a homeowner, if I were to sell my house, I would compile all the information about what protections there are, if any to allay fears. Realtors are supposed to do this, but usually don't.
I think they're great. Pride in one's neighborhood is not a bad thing.
I live in a National Register Historic District and I wish our local Historic Preservation Commission would issue plaques like the ones you're talking about. I first saw them in the historic neighborhoods of Savannah, Ga. and, as Jane pointed out earlier, I love them because as a tourist they tell me immediately the age of the house and allow me to see the growth of the neighborhood over time. Here, there are restrictions on what can be done to the exterior of a building located within a historic district (either commercial or residential; we have four NRHDs in my little hometown) and the use of that building. How disappointing that your coworker is gutting the historic home. What a shame. I guess my survey answer would be a choice other than what you have listed: e) Purchased a home without a plaque and wish it had one. :)
At HandPaintedWoodSigns.com we make hand painted historic house wood signs and I can tell you first hand that most signs are purchased by homeowners wanting to formalize the age and historic significance of their house and not because they are being made to get a sign by an authority.
With that in mind, we offer a range of sizes in rectangle and oval shapes that fit within most of the "local" zoning regulations for signage. In my town, there are regulations about the size and appearance of signs.
Hey, great use of social media for small business! I'm in marketing and can appreciate your effort...I even clicked through to your ecommerce site...but I've already bought a sign through the city...it's a great idea tho, I could have done that instead, I suppose.
Sorry to be a little late to the conversation, but have loved the conversation stream. I am glad that Sean explained the Salem signage. I did an internship in Salem many years ago, and one of the most lasting memories I have is of walking along the (narrow) streets and reading the fabulous building signs. Jane is right about New England; this is our "stuff" and it means a lot to us. Salem's signs are characteristically identical, with first resident, occupation, and date. Fabulous stuff. This leads to my major point; the greatest strength of signage is public education. Yes, it confirms pride of ownership, and rewards significant (rehab) investment, but the greatest value is bringing a community's cultural history into the public eye. And my experience is when a homeowner makes this kind of effort, all boats float higher. Community pride is contagious.
After saying this, I will tell you I know of a barn in central VT that has "1820" painted on it. I asked the owner's daughter about its history, and she said, "Oh, my mother hated that the neighbor claimed her farm dated to 1850; so she wanted to out-do her." Ah, well.