City Council has recognized seven Reading buildings for excellence in historic preservation.
Nigel Walker, chair of the city’s Historical Architectural Review Board, presented the list of buildings and their owners at a recent council meeting.
The HARB selected the winning properties in cooperation with Amy Woldt Johnson, city historic preservation specialist.
“We would like to thank the council members and the mayor for this opportunity to present several projects that are representative of our collective interests in promoting the preservation of historic resources in our city,” Walker said. “The HARB recognizes projects that have been successfully preserved, rehabilitated or reconstructed.”
The award recipients are to be commended for their sensitive treatment of the character defining materials and unique architectural elements of their buildings, Walker said.
Their projects help to improve the quality of the urban environment and ensure the city’s architectural heritage will continue to enrichment future generations of city residents.
The following received awards:
• 138 S. Fifth St., owner Cynthia LaSota, for replacement of deteriorating brownstone steps with concrete steps tinted to match the original brownstone color.
• 30 N. Fifth St., owner Christ Episcopal Church, for restoration of the brownstone façade.
• 147 N. Fifth St., owner Acme Structure X Inc., for the restoration of the stone and terra cotta façade.
• 39 S. Ninth St., owner Amazigh Inc., for the restoration of the brick façade and wooden trim.
• 903 Buttonwood St., owner Richard C. Bednar, for painting the façade to showcase architectural details.
• 619 Church St., owner New Hope Baptist Church, for restoration of the brick façade and original wooden siding.
• 413 Douglass Street, owner Tadd K. Casner, for restoration of the stone façade and wooden trim.
The three buildings on Fifth Street are in the Callowhill Historic District. The Church and Douglass streets properties are in the Centre Park district.
The other two properties were selected from the city at large.
Buildings do not have to be in one of the city historic districts to be eligible for an award, Walker said.
The city’s historic district ordinance was adopted by council in 1978 with the creation of the Callowhill district, Johnson said.
The Prince district on South Sixth and Seventh streets and the Centre Park district were added in 1982.
A fourth district, Penn’s Common was established in 2005, Johnson said.
In addition, a conservation district called The Heights, formed in the Hampden Heights area in 2012, also has limited protection under the ordinance.
The Queen Anne District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, encompasses much of the city’s northwest section, but is not protected by the city ordinance, she said.
The nine-member HARB also was established by the ordinance, Johnson said, and has five open positions.
Per the ordinance, the HARB is composed of a property or resident selected from each of the five districts, a registered architect, a licensed real estate broker, a person with knowledge of the building trades and a person with knowledge of local history or historic preservation.
In making decisions, the HARB is guided by the city’s ordinance, the U.S. Secretary of Interior’s standards for rehabilitation and guidelines for rehabilitating historic buildings and various HARB policies for replacement windows, signs, roofs and fences.
During 2022 and the first six months of 2023, the HARB reviewed a total of 69 applications for construction projects, including additions, solar panels, fences, signs, and window, door or roof replacement.
Of these, 50 projects were approved and only 11 projects were denied, Johnson said.
“So you can see that the HARB does approve the majority of the cases that it reviews,” she said.
Property owners whose projects are denied can appeal the HARB’s decision to council, she said.