Susan Beemer House Update

The public hearing for the demolition request at 110 W. Boscawen Street is proceeding. It appears that the applicant wants to demolish the existing structure for “high end apartments or townhomes.”

If you wish to attend the meeting or make a public comment on this request, mark your calendars for Thursday, October 18, 4 PM in Council Chambers in Rouss City Hall. The public hearing is the first agenda item.

Demolition Request at BAR on Oct. 18

Word has reached PHW that a demolition request will come before the Winchester Board of Architectural Review on October 18 for the Susan Beemer House at 110 West Boscawen Street. The house is a ca. 1823 Federal-style structure altered for commercial use. We wanted to let you know PHW is aware of the proposal. We will update you as information becomes available.

BAR Annual Report

Winchester’s Board of Architectural Review (BAR) presented its annual report to the City Council on March 15. The report detailed the ways the BAR works to fulfill the objectives of Winchester’s City Council, outlines the relevant ordinances, and enumerates the applications approved, denied, and withdrawn from 2006-2010 among other data.

If you missed the meeting, click here to see the slide presentation (pdf).

Community Food Store Slated for Demolition

Vic Bradshaw reported on the fate of the Community Food Store, 319-321 S. Kent St.:

. . . Hobbs’s response provides an answer to why the Community Food Store building is still standing – money to rebuild on the site could not be obtained. The structure, at Kent and Cecil streets, could be gone by year’s end, however. The City Council has begun action to declare it blighted and tear it down.

Read the full article at the Winchester Star (login required).

PHW representatives toured the building prior to the public hearing for demolition.  While the building tells a key story in the development and history of the neighborhood, the cost of the necessary stabilization made the project financially unfeasible.  PHW did not oppose the demolition of the structure given that the state of neglect and compromised structural integrity would make the project financially unfeasible.

The fate of the Community Food Store,  like Ruth’s Tea Room before it, is a sobering reminder that  important pieces of history may become empty lots when faced against demolition by neglect.

One City, Two Districts

As the rezoning request of the Amherst Street corridor last week highlighted, Winchester’s local historic district and National Register district currently have different boundaries.  What does this mean for property owners? Currently, the Amherst corridor has  the regulation of the local Board of Architectural Review, but none of the financial incentives available to other properties that fall within both the local and national districts.

Dave Shore, a Planning Commission member who served on the Historic District committee, said he thought the panel’s intent was to seek expansion of the national district to mirror the local district.

That would provide economic incentives for property owners to improve buildings currently subject to BAR governance but without the fiscal advantages of being in the national district.

The hope is that the incongruities noted in the survey will drive the redrawing of the city’s historic district, potentially contracting the district from “non-contributing” resources and expanding to include contributing resources currently ineligible for tax benefits.

To read more about the potential boundary changes from the architectural and cultural resource survey, visit Vic Bradshaw’s article at The Winchester Star Online. (Login required.)

BAR Public Hearing for Community Food Store

The former Community Food Store at 319-321 S. Kent St. will be up for public hearing on Thursday, Nov. 6 at the Board of Architectural Review meeting. The meeting begins at 4 p.m. PHW will make a public statement at the meeting, but citizens are encouraged to attend and offer their input as well.

The plan to demolish the former Community Food Store has been approved and stood unopposed at the BAR meeting due to the severity of the deterioration. You can find the story online at The Winchester Star.

Public Meeting

The Virginia Department of Historic Resources will hold a public information hearing to discuss a proposed Winchester Historic District Boundary Increase. The meeting is scheduled for May 12 at 7:00 PM in the Rouss City Hall Council Chambers. Public comment may be sent to Director Kathleen Kilpatrick, VA Dept. of Historic Resources, 2801 Kensington Avenue, Richmond, VA 23221. For a copy of the proposal and/or a boundary map, contact Jean McRae, VA Dept. of Historic Resources, 804-367-2323 x-102 or jean.mcrae@dhr.virginia.gov.

Public Presentation

A public presentation by officials from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and EHT Traceries will be held on February 14 at 7 pm in Council Chambers at Rouss City Hall. The presentation will explain the steps necessary to complete an exterior survey of buildings in Winchester’s Historic District. You are invited to attend and ask questions.

Click here to read the article in the Winchester Star covering this presentation.

Preservation of Historic Winchester Files an Appeal to the Kent Street Demolition Decision

Winchester, Va. – Today Preservation of Historic Winchester (PHW) announced that it has filed an appeal with the Winchester Circuit Court to the decision made by the Winchester City Council allowing the demolition of five structures on the 400 block of South Kent Street. All of these structures are located in the Historic Winchester District as well as the Winchester National Historic District and are designated as contributing to the purposes of the district. In filing the appeal, Franklin Wright, President of the Board of Directors of PHW remarked “Regretfully, PHW is taking this action following considerable soul-searching and thought. However, we believe that the action by City Council on November 13th to overrule the Board of Architectural Review’s denial of the demolition of these structures is flawed and not in the best interest of the city or its residents.”
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