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Re: Can a Historic Building be taken down by the property owner?

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"They may compromise and let him demo all but the front 5 ft. or so."

I am aware of one project where the owner had to preserve the facade on 2 sides (a corner lot) of the building.  The facade was a mix of stone and brick, aging and crumbling in some locations.  It was a NIGHTMARE.  Not only did it require some fairly inconvenient and inefficient layout choices to align with the existing facade, the bracing of the facade during construction was costly and in some cases dangerous.  Bracing cracked and crumbling URM, stone, or brick is more of an art than a science.  Somehow, though, disassembling or repairing the crumbing sections would have violated the historic integrity of the building.  Eventually, gravity violated the building's historic integrity, thankfully at night when the site was empty and only civic pride was injured.  After that, the jurisdiction was ammenable to some selective removal and reconstruction of unsound stone.  A long story, but the point is that anyone entering into a job that involves facade preservation should define their scope very carefully, and understand that the amount of effort (and fee) required will be much higher to work around the constrants and deal with the headaches.  Many such jobs are much easier than that one, but with existing and well-aged materials you don't always know what you have until you start.  

Paul Crocker, PE, SE


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