APPENDIX 4: Historic District discussions.


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APPENDIX 4

Santa Fe and Albuquerque

Albuquerque and Santa Fe possessed suitable resources for restoration and preservation. The many surviving structures occupied the old commercial centers or cores. Structures were primarily of wood and adobe construction with beamed ceilings covered with mud. The proximity and number of intact buildings has diminished steadily through deterioration and vandalism.

The present phase of historical preservation at Albuquerque and Santa Fe was founded upon several acts passed by the New Mexico State Legislature. State legislation was based upon the Federal Historic Sites Act of 1935, National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the establishment of a review committee composed of historians, architects, and archeologists in 1968. Thus with awareness and foresight New Mexico has pledged to continue historic preservation throughout the state.

"With the primary tasks involving basic legislation and a comprehensive state plan accomplished, it may be expected that the program will move vigorously into a project phase during which restoration and preservation projects will be undertaken and continuing survey carried on."1

Mobile, Alabama - DeTonti Square

Mobile, Alabama's DeTonti Square boasts many buildings of historic interest which have been restored to serve a variety of purposes.

"DeTonti Square lies just outside downtown Mobile and has escaped the blight of urban renewal. Its nine-block area includes approximately 60 structures of architectural merit, ranging in style. These include the raised Creole Cottage, through the 19th Century brick townhouse and includes frame Victorian cottages."2

The restoration and protection of these historic buildings began with the Iberville Historic Society as predecessor to the present Historical Mobile Preservation Society, which was founded in 1935. By 1962, the City of Mobile passed an ordinance establishing boundaries for two historic districts in an effort to preserve remaining examples of


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early Mobile architecture. An Architectural Review Board was subsequently created to exercise aesthetic control over the two districts, and a commission was appointed for the preservation and development of these areas for the benefit of the community.

Chicago - Hyde Park - Kenwood

Chicago has made similar studies toward historic preservation. The Hyde Park-Kenwood project is today a century-old community and one of the major renewal areas of the nation. From an original study and analysis of the 3,100 structures within the project area, 886 buildings were recommended for removal. These buildings were generally of three categories:

"1. Those built to minimum specifications, originally for speculative purposes, the disappearance of which is no loss.

2. Those originally well-built but now hopelessly dilapidated with age and overuse making restoration economically unfeasible.

3. A few, well-built and still in fair condition of maintenance and structural soundness but which had to be demolished for urgently needed public facilities."3

The structures planned for rehabilitation and preservation date primarily from the mid 1800's. These Victorian structures represent successful solutions to the era which produced them and show the skills, taste, style of life and economic resources of the period.

San Diego - Old San Diego

San Diego possesses a rich historical heritage. The three basic periods of its development are the Spanish Period (1542-1821), the Mexican Period (1821-1846) and the American Period (1846-1871). The buildings constructed over this 300+ year span display a gradual fusing of the three cultures. The combining of elements and the use of common construction materials--adobe, wood and masonry--produce continuity and harmony within the fibre of the area.

"Individual efforts to restore certain structures have been extremely significant and provided strong incentives and bases for larger and more comprehensive restoration. Until the passage of the Cameron-Unruh Beach, Park, Recreational and Historic Facilities Bond Act of 1964 and subsequent state legislative acts, a restoration program for Old San Diego did not appear feasible."4

The Old San Diego planning area chosen for the study approximated 230 acres in 1966. This area contains the greatest concentration of historic buildings or sites within the city. The Historic Sites Board established a documented register of all historic sites, buildings and structures within the area. The Old San Diego Architectural Control District Ordinance was created, along with an Architectural Board, to administer the ordinance.


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The realization of Old San Diego's historical past and the intent for its preservation produced this basic objective:

"Promote the recognition, preservation, restoration and recreation of historic sites and structures wherever feasible in such a way that the buildings are historically accurate, commercially useful and in general accord with the architecture of the area prior to 1871 in terms of height, scale, materials, texture and color."5

The policy to ensure that all the elements of the Old San Diego area function in a compatible atmosphere is summarized in the following statement:

"Encourage the development of an historic core in the immediate vicinity of the Old San Diego Plaza that strongly reflects the character of the town from its founding to 1871."6

To accomplish this objective, the following proposals were made:

"1. Eliminate private vehicular traffic from the historic core.

2. Encourage the restoration and preservation of the early townscape character, including ground patterns and textures requiring the exclusion of trees which might represent a later period.

3. Locate numerous historic structures in the core area, including structures from both the Spanish-Mexican Period (1542-1846) and the American Period (1846-1871).

4. Discourage the creation of physical barriers between the historic core and the rest of the community and urge that no fees be charged for entrance."7

The realization of the commercial and historic significance of Old San Diego supplemented by preservation legislation and the creation of Old Town State Park has resulted in successful integration of San Deigo proper, while maintaining the integrity of the Old Town.

New Orleans - Vieux Carre

New Orlean's Vieux Carre comprises a notable historic district that has become one of the country's major tourist and convention centers. The present-day Vieux Carre includes all the land within the original city of New Orleans as laid out by the French in 1721. The history of the city has evolved from the original French Colonial Period (1721-1768) through the Spanish Colonial Period (1768-1803) to subsequent American rule.

The Vieux Carre is a unique area in several ways.

"Unlike Georgetown, Beacon Hill, Santa Fe, Annapolis and other historic districts in America, no single architectural style can be said to characterize the Quarter. Architecturally, instead of a slice in time, the Vieux Carre presents a Kaleidoscope of styles expressing its diverse cultural evolution."8


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Although the Vieux Carre is not a storehouse of singularly important buildings,

"the genius of the Quarter is in the sum total effect--buildings plus environment. This integration of buildings and environment is called the tout ensemble and is a primary focus of the overall Demonstration Study,"9

The Demonstration Study has endeavored to recognize the basic ingredients producing the tout ensemble. The findings indicate both functional activities and physical characteristics. Those predominant physical characteristics were:

"building heights, facade materials and color, galleries, balconies, porches, street furniture and architectural types."10

Expansion pressures upon the Quarter are many. The growth of the central business district adjacent to Vieux Carre, traffic congestion and parking are sources of considerable concern. It is evident that change must be provided for but in such a way as to assure preservation of the Vieux Carre's identity, diversity and authenticity.

The result of historic preservation has given the area predominant characteristics of the late French and Spanish domination at the close of the 18th Century. The largest concentration of significant buildings are centered around historic Jackson Square. This clustering within an architectural setting produces a strong sense of place and past, a quality enjoyed by few cities within the United States.

Legislation for preservation was adopted in 1936 by the Commission Council of the City of New Orleans to create a Vieux Carre Commission. The commission dedicated itself to preserve any buildings in the Vieux Carre deemed to have architectural and historic value for the benefit of the people of New Orleans and the nation. The city amendment authorizes the acquisition of buildings and other structures which the Vieux Carre Commission recommends to the Commission Council. The amendment also authorizes the Commission Council to exempt buildings designated by the Vieux Carre Commission for municipal and parochial taxation. Finally, any new buildings and alterations or additions to existing structures within the Vieux Carre must be reviewed by the Vieux Carre Commission on the basis of:

"Appropriateness of plan, appearance, color, texture of materials and architectural design of the exterior."11

John Gabb


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Notes

1. New Mexico State Planning Office, Historic Preservation, a report prepared for historic preservation, Santa Fe 1971.

2. Mobile Historic Development Commission, History of Mobile Historic Development Commission, a report on historic preservation, Mobile, Ala. 1971.

3. Department of Urban Renewal, Segments of the Past, Chicago, 1970.

4. City Planning Department, Old San Diego Community Plan, 1971, p. 1.

5. City Planning Department, Old San Diego Community Plan, San Diego 1971, p. 7.

6. Ibid., p. 7.

7. Ibid., p. 7-8.

8. Marcou, O'Leary&Assoc., Vieux Carre Historic District Demonstration Study, New Orleans 1968, p. 14.

9. Ibid., p. 14.

10. Ibid., p. 14.

11. Ibid., p. 16.

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