Last Call! Grant Applications Due Wednesday

The deadline for the first round of PHW Micro Grants is coming up next Wednesday, January 31! If you’ve been procrastinating, this is your last weekend to get your application together for the first round. Remember to include supporting documents, like drawings, material specifications, estimates from contractors, and images of current conditions, just like you would for an application to the Board of Architectural Review.

If you are not quite ready yet to apply, keep an eye out for the second round, which will be set for May 31, 2024.

Friday Roundup: Preservation News and a History Mystery

The appeal for the fence location approval at 119 S. Washington St. was heard and voted on Tuesday evening at City council. The decision of the BAR for the April 20 approval was upheld, and it was stated Winchester’s Zoning Department has viewed the fence and views it as “substantially compliant” with the April 2023 application in execution. The issue of the design of the entrance gate and piers will likely be heard again at the BAR meeting on July 20 to attempt to address the brick piers design denial.

For those readers and observers who seem very concerned that the appeal process of a BAR decision is endless, we understand – it is frustrating and exhausting for everyone. We will note to PHW’s knowledge and recollection in about the last twenty years of observing BAR meetings, only two petitions for appeals not filed by the original applicant (i.e. neighbors filing an appeal) have successfully made it to the threshold of 25+ signatures with proper documentation. Both times the appeals were successful because of an error in process that was pointed out by the appellants.

City Council also voted Tuesday on amending the language for Substantially Rehabilitated Historic Property to bring the City’s ordinance in line with Virginia Code, as well as add a possibility of 15 year tax exemption. Following discussion, the “step down” approach to the tax exemption was struck from the ordinance, which was the preferred outcome for those working in the redevelopment of historic properties. We hope that this approach can benefit some of the projects in the pipeline, like the ZeroPak Building, bringing it from an underutilized and dilapidated state to vibrant, contributing structures reflecting Winchester’s history.

As you may know if you attended our 59th Annual Meeting, PHW was working on a micro grant program specific to homeowners or nonprofits in Winchester’s National Register Historic District. We have completed the basic application and criteria documents and added a dedicated grants page to our website. We have earmarked $10,000 maximum for our first grant cycle, with an application due date of January 31, 2024.

PHW used the principles outlined at the Community Tool Box website when establishing this program. We hope to stretch the $10,000 across a number of building repairs and quality of life upgrades through the Winchester Historic District and help subsidize needed work on our historic buildings to keep them contributing resources. We see this as a more sustainable and attainable way for PHW to continue improving the quality of the Historic District now that purchases through the Jennings Revolving Fund are rarely achievable.

Since this is the first grant cycle for us and this program, we anticipate lots of questions from applicants. We encourage you to reach out to the PHW office at or through our social media channels for more information – we are likely to compile an FAQ section over the coming months as we learn what our frequently asked questions are.

History Mystery – Solved? In a bit of research off our usual beaten path at the PHW office, it was pointed out that there is Morse code on the Henkel box we keep in our Board Room. It was short enough characters to spell out “Henkel,” so we did a little deciphering to see what the code stood for.

—.. -.-. -.– .-. …-.-

The code translates to 8CYR$. This became another head-scratcher – what did this new code stand for? It was not the right format for a phone number and did not seem related to the furniture business. Some tapping into online databases led to the idea of amateur radio. Amazingly enough, this guess was substantiated with a hit in Amateur Radio Stations of the U.S. in 1924 for Carroll H. Henkel under the call sign 8CYR, based in Martinsburg, WV. This portion of the mystery seems solved, but if you’d like to read more about the history of call signs, we would like to recommend An Overview of Amateur Call Signs Past and Present to see how these numbers were generated almost 100 years ago.

PHW Pledges to Support the Godfrey Miller Home Repairs

Holiday House Tour
The Godfrey Miller Home and Fellowship Center dressed up for Holiday House Tour 1982. This iconic downtown facade needs your help…

PHW is thrilled to announce we have teamed up with the Godfrey Miller Home and Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church to help retain one of downtown’s iconic historical structures. Earlier this fall we visited the Godfrey Miller Home at 28 South Loudoun Street, at the heart of the Old Town Mall, for a site visit with the new executive director of the Fellowship Center, Jason Gottschalk.

The limestone building, constructed circa 1785, is in need of significant exterior maintenance for safety as well as aesthetic reasons. Repairs are needed primarily on the wooden exterior elements, including the roof rakes, lower roof panels, trim and moldings, 28 shutters, a rear dormer, the front porch, and the front door and transom. Some of the most significant work will be the repair and reglazing of 18 windows, as well as carefully removing lead paint to provide a clean working surface for the repair and repainting of the wooden elements.

The work will be performed by the Durable Restoration Company, which recently completed work on the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church spire on West Boscawen Street. It is expected to cost about $109,000, a significant amount for anyone, and especially so for a nonprofit organization.

Seeing the need, oncoming commencement of the work, and our past successful partnerships with the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Godfrey Miller Home and Fellowship Center, the PHW Board of Directors voted to pledge $10,000 in support of the project. We also pledged to reach out to our membership and readers to ask you to join us, as you did for the Old Lutheran Church Wall project, to help match our pledge.

Please download and read the Godfrey Miller House letter and pledge form, print the pledge form below, and return it with your donation of any amount to the Godfrey Miller Home & Fellowship Center, 28 South Loudoun St., Winchester, VA 22601, to join us in supporting the restoration of this local landmark building.

Join PHW and help support the exterior work at the Godfrey Miller Home with a donation to their Exterior Preservation Fund.

Is My Property in the Historic District?

The Kent Building Winchester’s local Historic District (HW zoning) is quite large at over 1200 documented structures over approximately 45 city blocks. There is often confusion about what area the local Historic District covers and whether or not a property is subject to any oversight for exterior changes.

All properties within the local Historic District are subject to review by the Winchester Board of Architectural Review for exterior alterations. Refer to Article 14 of the Winchester Zoning Ordinance and the Design Guidelines for the Historic District. For questions and more information about BAR oversight and applications, direct your inquiries to the Winchester Planning and Zoning Department, which acts as the city staff for the BAR.

This may sound very complicated, overwhelming, and impossible for an individual to figure out what the requirements are and where to go for information. There are a few ways you can check the status of your property on your own, quickly and easily, to determine whether you are subject to BAR oversight:

How to Check the Winchester Historic District (HW Zoning) Status

If you are new to the area, you may not realize some of the ways you’ve seen other historic districts and protected properties marked are not the same in Winchester. Here are some ways you may expect to see a historic district marked that are NOT a reliable indicator in Winchester:

How NOT to Check the Winchester Historic District (HW Zoning) Status

  • Historic building plaques (The oval plaques in Winchester are recognition for buildings of significance within the district, but are an optional part of the local historic district and denote no other protections or restrictions.)
  • Street signage (Historic district boundaries are not fully marked by signage and such signs should be used as a guide only.)
  • Real Estate Assessment Search (HW zoning is NOT shown on the web assessment search.)

Do you have any further ideas to add to the list? Perhaps you’ve expected to be able to check local Historic District status in some other way you don’t see listed here. Please drop us a note at PHW and we will keep this post updated.

Images from Helping Homeowners

Work is progressing at our first facade improvement project house, 134 E. Leicester St. PHW started our association with the homeowner several years ago for Day of Caring. We are thrilled that our successful fundraisers this spring enabled us to give back a bit more to this deserving project. Images of the project can be seen at our Facebook page.

PHW is still accepting donations and volunteers for the program. Donations can be made at the PHW website via PayPal or via mail to PHW at 530 Amherst St. Winchester, VA 22601. Persons interested in volunteering, please contact Nancy Murphy at