historic preservation details: proving metal

This post is part four of a five-part series by Yvette Yescas. Navigate between them below.

Click here to see the map of Mt. Lebanon’s historic districts.

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Before I jump in, I get to say “Congratulations!” Today, the Mt. Lebanon Historic District appeared on the National Park Service’s Weekly List as LISTED on the National Register of Historic Places. For details on how we got here, read the first blog in this series. I am happy to have this opportunity to thank all of the great volunteers who helped us on the Historic Preservation Board inventory historic properties during the nomination process. In addition to Historic Preservation Board members past and present, thank you to Kelley Burns, Jen Curran (whose photos appear here), Diana DiBerardino, Bob Freeman, Mary Salvucci, Debbie and Jon West, Soncerae Yeager and Mary Zavodszky. Many thanks to our municipal staff and commissioners, past and present, too, as they were essential to a successful nomination. This blog features photographs of homes in the now-designated Mt. Lebanon Historic District, but it isn’t really about that.

This blog is part of a series on the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings (Secretary’s Standards). This installment focuses on masonry, wood and architectural metals to help you identify, retain and preserve, protect and maintain, repair, replace and facilitate new use of those features on your historic home. As expressed in previous blogs, these guidelines are completely voluntary, even for homeowners with property in the Mt. Lebanon Historic District.

MASONRY:

masonry
335, 339 and 343 Parkway Drive: contributing properties to the Mt. Lebanon Historic District

Identify historic character-defining masonry features of the building:

  • walls
  • brackets
  • railings
  • cornices
  • window architraves
  • door pediments
  • steps
  • columns

Protection and maintenance of masonry requires little, but proper, cleaning. When necessary, always use the gentlest method possible.

Recommended methods:

  • low pressure and detergents
  • natural bristle brushes
  • Hand-scraping to the next sound layer

Reasons masonry might need repair:

  • disintegrating mortar
  • cracks in mortar joints
  • loose bricks
  • damp walls
  • damaged plasterwork
    masonrywood
    This view of 335 Parkway Drive shows the great relationship between masonry and wood in our homes.

While duplication of strength, composition, color and texture is the priority, you are encouraged to consult the Secretary’s Guidelines for advice on damaged concrete or water penetration.

As with roofs and windows, when it comes to masonry, be mindful of size, scale, material and color, and when possible, use historical, pictorial and physical documentation (or the original!) as a guide.

http://www.nps.gov/tps/standards/rehabilitation/rehab/masonry01.htm

WOOD:

Identify historic character defining wood features of the building:

  • siding
  • cornices
  • brackets
  • window architraves
  • doorway pediments
  • paints
  • finishes
  • colors
    283 Jefferson Drive: contributing property to Mt. Lebanon Historic District
    283 Jefferson Drive, contributing property to Mt. Lebanon Historic District

Wood requires:

  • proper water drainage
  • protection from moisture and light

Recommended methods for maintenance and repair:

  • hand-scraping
  • hand-sanding (to next sound layer)

http://www.nps.gov/tps/standards/rehabilitation/rehab/wood01.htm

METALS:

Identify historic character defining architectural metal features of the building:

  • columns
  • capitals
  • window hoods
  • stairways
  • finishes
  • colors
    205 Hazel Drive: contributing property to the Mt. Lebanon Historic District
    205 Hazel Drive: contributing property to the Mt. Lebanon Historic District

Recommended methods for maintenance and repair:

  • hand-scraping
  • wire brushing
  • only if necessary, low pressure grit blasting that does not abrade or damage the surface

http://www.nps.gov/tps/standards/rehabilitation/rehab/metals01.htm

Again, water drainage is imperative to the protection of these materials. With all materials, historic preservation standards are going to ask us to focus on compatibility of size, scale, material and color, and visual appearance should convey continuity with the intact, original features when patched, spliced, reinforced or replaced.

You can also find more in-depth articles from the National Park Service, including these:

Repointing Mortar Joints in Historic Masonry Buildings

Preserving Historic Wood Porches

The Maintenance and Repair of Architectural Cast Iron

344 and 350 Jefferson Drive: contributing properties to the Mt. Lebanon Historic District.
344 and 350 Jefferson Drive: contributing properties to the Mt. Lebanon Historic District.

The next and final blog on the guidelines will attempt to guide you on accessibility requirements, new additions for growing families and energy costs (It’s not cheap to heat an old home) and the sorts of things that often (and often-rightly) take a back seat to historic preservation considerations. It can help you plan to limit the impact such changes have on the historic character of a much-loved home.

Read the second blog.

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