The Historic District Review Board announced Tuesday that the Virginia Department of Historic Resources has awarded the town a grant for $25,000 to be used for board education and more importantly, to finally update our Historic Registry. The National Register is the official Federal list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed significant in American history; architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture are all part of the registry. The state will be providing the consultant/registry expert who will come to Cape Charles for the work. This is significant, as the board continues to struggle to define its role and authority in terms of maintaining the historic integrity of the town. The lack of authority is highlighted by the board’s inability to enforce an intersection of appropriate paint colors that are appropriate for historic homes. Currently, it is the wild, Wild West, where homeowners can do whatever they please in terms of how they paint the exterior of their homes.
The Registry upgrade has the potential to be leveraged as a way to determine what role paint plays in the overall architectural integrity of a historic home. While the HDRB is quick to say that they have little interest in telling people what color to paint their homes, they do want to have the ability to tell folks what color they can’t paint them. Chairman Joe Fehrer has begun a draft document for paint and palette guidelines, shown below:
The color of a building is, perhaps, it’s most dominant visual characteristic. The color of a building can enhance or detract from its own architectural characteristics as well as neighboring structures. Changes in technology and architectural preferences in the mid-to-late 19th century combined to greatly broaden the color spectrum and by the late 19th century there was a preference for a dark color palette. Color preferences changed again in the early years of the 20th century to reflect a lighter color palette.
As part of the Guidelines review process, the Historic District Review Board has developed a suggested Color Chart, which should be consulted to assist in determining appropriate colors for homes in the historic district. The Board strongly urges home and business owners in the district, who will be painting their building to make use of this information.
The Board furthermore activity discourages painting a building, or its trim, a clearly inappropriate color.
Examples include but are not limited to:
1) The use of paint to create artificial architectural elements2) The use of day-glow, neon, metallic colors and colors that, either alone, or in combination, create a “garish” or a particularly contrasting effect. 3) The Guidelines clearly state that in all cases painting a previously unpainted masonry surface, no matter the color, requires review by the Board and a Certificate of Appropriateness.
The Board also strongly suggests painting structures in the district a color appropriate to the historical period and reflective of their architectural style. In addition, the Board reserves the right to review paint colors in instances where the new color is so clearly inappropriate as to constitute alteration of the architectural character of the building.
The HDRB is planning a work session in the fall to continue hashing out the paint guidelines.
1 Mason Ave
While a Certificate of Appropriateness has been issued, the applicants now wish to alter the approved plans, which had called for adding a gable to the west end of the roof. They now wish to keep the roof as is and not add the approved addition of the gable. According to the applicant, the original, historic roof line is more aesthetically pleasing, and that the new gable was obstructing the view from the widow’s walk. The application was approved.