Just because you’ve plunked down a million bucks for a townhouse in Old Town doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want with it. Alexandria’s proud spirit of preservation is overseen by the Board of Architectural Review, which is concerned with keeping historically significant properties close to their origins. They give the yea or nay to whatever remodeling or repairs you want to do to your historic Old Town townhouse, whether interior or exterior.
I’m not sure how I feel about that!
Speaking as someone very interested in historic preservation (I spent 9 years co-leading the effort that got my former neighborhood listed as a historic district in the federal and Virginia registers), I’m all for it.
If you don’t place controls, some moron will put up siding or install a basketball hoop on the outside of the house. And as for the interiors, these are very old row houses and there are some things that probably can’t be done safely inside them—but you can bet people would go ahead anyway if they could get away with it.
If the Board of Architectural Review didn’t exist, I’ll bet Alexandria wouldn’t have maintained its character and beauty.
As Passante has pointed out, it’s the only way to keep these treasures in any semblance of dignity as well as stay true to their historic origins.
If we examine other forms of housing, we find: (a) Condominium owners have no control over the exterior and limits on what they can do to the interior. (b) Most housing developments have covenants and restrictions on what colors you can paint and the number of rusted out junky cars you can have on your lawn.
Because most people live in rather densely populated areas, there is almost nowhere you can live where you don’t have to consider how what you do to your home or with your property will affect your neighbors. Your home is no longer your castle unless you live in a very remote place.
As a condo owner I personally don’t find the restrictions a problem. However, my first reaction is to hell with the board I will do what I dam will please. Naturally I have to admit the end result from the review board is to my benefit. So I always adhere to their rulings … At-a-girl to Passante for her involvement. I know there must be a lot of knuckle heads like me who’s first reaction is less than pleasant.
If I paid a million dollars … I would want to do what I wanted with it. However, I do understand the need to preserve historically significant buildings and such! I would abide by the rules and regulatons despite my first reaction to rebel!
Interesting. Things are much more laissez-faire here in Sydney, and we have some of the ugliest home “improvements” you could imagine. People kick up enormously about heritage protection. Philistines!
I’m a new resident to Alexandria and find some hypocrisy in the Board overseeing something as mundane as window replacement while we have ‘historic’ utility wires and poles dangling across every road. They have a plan to remedy this over the next 50 years or so. Anyway, George Washington probably had to maneuver his horses around these eyesore wires and lines so I guess they’re historic.