Facade Additions

Additions to historic buildings are required, by theĀ Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, to be sympathetic to and compatible with the existing building. Standard #9 is written as such:

New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction will not destroy historic materials, features, and spatial relationships that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and will be compatible with the historic materials, features, size, scale and proportion, and massing to protect the integrity of the property and its environment.

Standard #10 is written as such:

New additions and adjacent or related new construction will be undertaken in a such a manner that, if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.

With proper consideration and consultation, a good addition is usually possible. However, sometimes, you’ll come across a building that completely violates all forms and any thoughts of a good addition. Often, this will be an addition on the facade (the front of a building). Sometimes you won’t even realize that there is another building behind it. Take these examples:

Barre Street in Montpelier, VT.

Barre Street in Montpelier, VT. There is an Italianate building behind that storefront addition.

Main Street in Montpelier, VT.

Main Street in Montpelier, VT. There is a small house behind that long front addition.

What do you think? Are facade additions ever appropriate? Considering how much of survey & determination of eligibility is based on the appearance of the street facade, it’s hard to imagine a good facade addition.