I feel like I post on this topic more than almost anything else, but until the truth is readily known I feel it’s my obligation to let the world know how badly government and industries like the replacement window industry are lying to not just homeowners but also architects and contractors.
Writing about the how-to’s of preservation usually has very little to do with current events, but this week I have felt overwhelmed by news reports about preservation related ridiculousness. Here are a few items that have recently gotten my hackles up.
We have got to stop these preservation lies from being presented as fact.
Savannah’s Window Woes
Lie #1 Replacement windows are safer and more energy-efficient than historic windows
I saw a report recently about how the Savannah Public School Board voted (unanimously!) to replace all 913 original windows at the historic Savannah Arts Academy.
Their decision to replace all the windows was based on a cost comparison study the district did to see what their two options (restoration vs replacement) would cost over 25 years.
The study is absolutely ludicrous! The numbers look to me (and other professionals I have surveyed) to have been purposely skewed to encourage replacement over restoration. The figures are not based in reality.
Professional window restorationist Larry Johnson said “$3.5M in maintenance over the next 25 years after restoration? According to whom? Is there gold dust in the putty?”
Other restorers have had similar responses wondering where the woefully biased numbers came from.
“This is a school, not a museum, and we have an obligation to educate students,” board member Julie Wade said. “We are stewards of taxpayer dollars, and we are not in the business of maintaining historic windows.”
Really? It sounds like she has already made up her mind. I think that it is more financially responsible to maintain your wood windows so they don’t get to the point where falling glass is endangering students.
Going years with no kind of maintenance is what caused this “emergency” need to replace the windows. Local preservationists are being cast as unfeeling snobs who care more about saving old windows than about the safety of the students which is absolutely absurd.
Winter Park’s Botched Board Appointments
Lie #2 Historic preservation stifles economic growth and community development
Winter Park, FL Mayor Steve Leary recently sought to fill three vacancies in the city’s historic preservation board but was blocked by City Commissioners Tom McMacken and Carolyn Cooper.
The commissioners were hesitant to bring in new members while the board was 18 months into revamping the city’s historic preservation ordinance, which has fallen under much scrutiny from residents after the historic Capen House nearly fell to the wrecking ball back in 2013.
Winter Park has some of the richest history in Central Florida, but it has by far the leanest preservation protections across the state. It’s far too easy to tear things down in Winter Park.
“I’m not sure I want to change my pitcher in the ninth inning,” Commissioner Tom McMacken said.
While I wasn’t sure which side of this move I came down on, after a little research it became abundantly clear that the Mayor has no clue about what a historic preservation board does.
His choices for appointments were three people who know little about historic preservation and whose interests lie more in the redevelopment of the area rather than the preservation of the city’s history.
Case in point Phil Kean, an award winning local architect who was one of the appointees, is an immensely talented architect, but his appointment seems a direct front to preservation since his company is responsible for demolishing several older homes in the area to build new custom homes. His own page on Houzz declares him to, “Specialize in creating one-of-a-kind, custom, luxury residences that represent today’s priorities…leading edge technology.” Hardly sounds like someone interested in preservation.
And the other two candidates had little to no experience in historic preservation either.
The truth? Historic Preservation encourages economic growth and funnels more money into the local area than redevelopment in almost all cases. You can read the studies below if you don’t believe me.
- 12 Benefits of Historic Preservation – National Trust for Preservation
- Benefits of Historic Preservation – Washington Trust
- Economic Benefits of Historic Preservation – Preservation Action Council of San Jose
There are too many preservation lies going around today and these are just two of the ones that came across my radar this week.
Don’t be fooled by politicians or anyone else telling you preserving our local treasures isn’t important. Remember it’s not good because it old, it’s old because it’s good!