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HIstoric Houses: The Beauty and the Benefits When it comes to historic buildings, information and experts hold the keys to good decisions. For a decade Historic Fort Worth, Inc. has offered a course for Realtors called the Historic House Specialist Course. “This course is a priority for HFW because Realtors are in a unique position to help future homeowners understand the value and beauty of owning a historic home,” said Wini Klein, a Realtor and board chairman of HFW. What exactly constitutes a historic home? According to the US Congress, which enacted the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966, “historic” is defined as 50 years old. Once a structure reaches this age, it can be considered for various forms of designations and protections. (Perks that come with age, as it were.) There are several reasons to live in a historic neighborhood, including: a centralcity location, sidewalks, consistent setbacks from the curb, mature trees and homes constructed from materials not readily available today. Arched doorways, patterned tile work, wooden floors, wooden windows, and large, covered, porches are features one often finds in a historic home. Participants in HFW’s Historic House Specialist course learn from nonprofit and governmental preservation professionals, as well as experts in the fields of building inspection, architectural research, architectural planning and restoration. For example, the city of Fort Worth’s preservation officer discussed the benefits of local historic designation, which can include a 10-year property valuation freeze on the city’s portion of a prospective homeowner’s tax bill. The key to this economic incentive is for the preservation officer or the Landmarks Commission to approve a rehabilitation project for a historic property. A local Realtor remarked, “I just didn’t know this and now can tell a prospective buyer” what’s needed to make their investment in preserving an old home pay off financially as well as aesthetically. Architect Paul Dennehy, who often speaks at HHS classes, illustrates with slides many of the architectural styles found in Tarrant County, from Craftsman, to Italianate, to Moderne, to Tudor, to Texas ranch, etc., ranging in size from bungalows to mansions. He also provides examples of additions to existing homes. “Not only did I learn a lot about architectural styles, I saw house additions that were done well, and some that were, let’s call them unfortunate,” said one participant. “I was surprised to learn that it could decrease the value of a property if an addition is indistinguishable from the original house. The course helped me see why addi-

tions should be compatible to the original building, but visually reflect their time period.” Another participant felt the information on researching the people who lived in a house, its architect and builder would interest potential buyers. One veteran Realtor commented, “I just didn’t know where to look for this information, but HFW board member Kip Wright did! Who would have thought that the City of Fort Worth, Historic Fort Worth, Inc., the downtown Fort Worth Library, the Special Collection at the University of Texas at Arlington and the Tarrant County Historical Commission archive all hold information and photos on historic buildings?” When it comes to historic buildings, information and experts hold the keys to good decisions. Realtor Mary Margaret Davis reflected, “I don’t have to know everything, but I now have the tools to find out where to go.” Let’s spread the word.

Realtors Wini Klein, Rita Kane & Gaye Reed

The “Historic House Specialist” course helps future homeowners understand the value of owning a historic home. Words by Jerre tracy 20

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