Our intern Mary Minor has been hard at work and has completed the sidewalk (or “windshield”) survey of the S. Alamo/S. St. Mary’s National Register Historic District. When the National Register nomination was written in 1984, the architectural historian determined if a building was “contributing” or “noncontributing” to the historic district.

According to the nomination:

Contributing structures clearly mirror the district’s historic and architectural importance. Constructed prior to 1934, these buildings have retained all or most of their original form and details.

Generally, noncontributing structures are those that fail to illustrate the historic or architectural character of the district. They fall into three subgroups: (1) those built after 1934, (2) those structures more than 50 years old that have been severely altered so that their original form or details are obscured, and (3) those structures built before 1934 that have been subject to unsympathetic alterations that are reversible. Those structures clad with asbestos or aluminum siding and those whose original frame porches have been replaced with concrete slabs and metal supports typify this third subgroup. These buildings could become eligible for reclassification as contributing structures if the cladding is removed and significant original details are restored.

We asked our intern to further analyze the buildings by assigning a level of architectural integrity of “high,” “medium” or “low” by applying the Seven Aspects of Integrity used by the National Park Service. This assignment of integrity will help KWA identify properties that could be brought back to a high level of architectural integrity.

According to the National Park Service:

Integrity is the ability of a property to convey its significance. To retain historic integrity a property will always possess several, and usually most, of the aspects [Seven Aspects of Integrity]. The retention of specific aspects of integrity is paramount for a property to convey its significance. Determining which of these aspects are most important to a particular property requires knowing why, where, and when the property is significant.
The assignment of “architectural integrity” simply looks for original, external features such as columns, siding, windows, brackets and other ornamental details. The assignment in no way states that a house is not in good shape. Some examples: 102 Constance was built in 1946, so it was built after “the period of significance” and will always be considered “non-contributing” to the historic district. According to the 1984 national register nomination, 311 Cedar was considered “non-contributing.” Based on our 2014 windshield survey, the house now meets the criteria for “high architectural integrity.”

It is the mission of the Historic & Design Review Commission (HDRC) of the City and the Architectural Advisory Committee (AAC) of the KWA to assist property owners to maintain or go back to a high level of architectural integrity. We are working on having the building survey available on the KWA website.

- Cherise Bell