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A Celebration of Compatible Design: the 2006 Annual Historic Homes Tour

Thursday, 25 February 2010 12:37

HomesTour2006EB008On Saturday, September 16, 2006, our tour visited seven homes in the Capitol Hill, Federal Heights, and Yalecrest neighborhoods of Salt Lake City, all which exhibited important principles of compatible design.  Several of the homes were eventually featured in our 2008 book Celebrating Compatible Design: Creating New Spaces in Historic Homes.

Salt Lake City's historic neighborhoods have seen a resurgence of popularity over the last several years. People are returning to the city—recognizing the value of location, architecture, and the scale of walkability that can be found in older neighborhoods.

For years, American cities have dealt with the increasing demand for bigger houses and bigger lots, a disregard for limited resources, and the historical flight to the suburbs.
But a more recent and every bit as damaging phenomenon has also been sweeping the country: the Monster House. Driven by a disregard for history and scale, monster houses result when families demand more square footage than historic buildings can provide, and a lack of education about compatible design prevails. Families are adding massive garages, huge second stories, and too-large additions that are all changing the character of their homes. Such issues as scale, harmony, streetscape and material compatibility, all basic concepts to architectural and neighborhood design, aren't universally understood or valued. But in the redesign of individual family homes and, as a result neighborhood streets, a consciousness of these important issues is critical.
Utah Heritage Foundation saw the annual Historic Homes Tour as an opportunity to invite the public to visit and enjoy sound examples of compatible design. Historic neighborhoods have witnessed compatible additions for several decades. They have been and continue to be a very real solution for owners of historic homes.
But there are some things to keep in mind. As you look at these additions ask yourself: Can the addition be seen from the street? Does the addition change the overall character of the house? How does the roofline and its dormers affect the neighbors?
As homeowners, we need to consider the impact a new addition or garage will create. Many neighborhoods have started to draft and implement ordinances that create neighborhood standards that help ensure that additions contribute to rather than detract from an historic neighborhood's character. Inquire at your community council meeting or in your town about how you can get involved to insure compatible design.
Utah Heritage Foundation thanks all the residents for helping preserve a piece of Salt Lake's history and welcome you to this year's Historic Homes Tour.