Recently, the Fairmount neighborhood was surveyed towards possible registration as a National Historic District. 50 folks or so turned out tonight for a follow-up Q&A to discuss the results so far.
Fairmount is the neighborhood directly north of Union Hill. The boundaries are roughly east of Mosby, north of Carrington, west of 24th/25th, and towards Fairfield Avenue. Across Fairmount Avenue, it is the bulk of the area east of the Brauers neighborhood and west of 24th.
There are approximately 570 buildings in the area of consideration, all but around 90 listed as contributing buildings. Most of the houses date from the 1890s to the 1950s. What is likely the oldest remaining residence, a frame house even, probably dates from before 1870. A notable property in the Fairmount neighborhood is the Fairmount School. Fairmount, annexed from Henrico in 1906, was first incorporated as an independent town on March 10, 1902 (though the area had actually been established some time in the years 1889-1893).
The presentation opened with an introduction by Tyler Potterfield, Preservation Planner for City of Richmond. He explained that the city sees benefit in listing properties on the National Historic Register, that about 10 years ago city began activity submitting neighborhoods to National Register of Historic Places. A listing on the register signifies that the area is recognized by the national government as having historic merit. With this designation comes recognition and opportunity for tax credits, but nothing in the way obligation
He specified that the national listing is different than being listed as a local historic district (like the St.John’s Old and Historic District). Local listing involves a review process and restrictions on the homeowner; national listing does not. South and east of Fairmount are already listed. Other areas already listed include Barton Heights, Brookland Park, and North and South Highland Park.
Next up was Terry Necciai of John Milner Associates, the company contracted by the city to perform the work necessary to get Fairmount listed on the registry. He gave a presentation on the process and the architecture of the Fairmount area.
Necciai described getting the listing as a rigorous a 2-part process: first the survey, then the paperwork and review. The survey has just been mostly completed. Later in the process, the boundaries will be finalized and there will be a formal public hearing. A formal process for objecting will be made available later, with community public hearing later as well (probably in the fall [around Sept?]). These meetings will come with formal legal notice for every property owner, with 20-30 days prior notice.
Speaking about the survey, Terry said that the 4 man team had completed about 90% of the field work. This included taking photos of every single building (including garages), and getting a description of the buildings. He described the neighborhood as interesting, in that it contains only a few generations of architecture. Looking around, he said, “the buildings start to tell me something”, the architectural history of the area. He said that the neighborhood was built in a couple of waves, including today. Some of the houses date from the 1890s, some very 1920s, and we all know that there is a lot going on right now.
He went over the criteria for getting a property or neighborhood listed. Please see slide 2 of the presentation for the details.
He described the common boxy house of the area as a late version of Italianate, a type of architecture older than the Civil War that was popular after the Civil War. These houses are box shaped, maybe with a with string cornice. Other common styles in the neighborhood are Queen Anne and 1920s bungalows.
In dating a house, he pointed out that 2-over-2 windows weren’t available until the 1870s and later because the technology for making the large glass was not common. Houses with turned posts date after 1880. He pointed out the detail found in cornices, brackets, hoods on windows. he called the Italianate houses a “textbook on American architecture”, and sad they are not meant to really be seen as individual houses but are meant to bee seen together “marching down the street”, providing the urban feel of the neighborhood.
He and Potterfield both stressed that there are only benefits to the listing. One early benefit is the processes already responsible for the quality of the new construction over the past 10 years. The listing encourages restoration, and makes available some tax credits, but puts no restrictions on what you do as long as you are not using grants or the public money. The listing may affect market value of the house, which may impact assessment and property tax, though there is no direct connection between the listing and an increased assessment or tax rate. They provided a document from the National Park Service, What are the results of getting listed?, for more information on the effects of getting the area listed.
[ Download the presentation as a PDF. ]
[ What are the results of getting listed? ]
[ Frequently Asked Questions ]
[ Medium-resolution version map of Fairmount. ]
[ High-resolution version map of Fairmount. (1.6MB) ]