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Enhance the Character of Your Historic Spaces

With Preservation and Renovation Work

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Maintain the Character of Your Architecture

In its own humble way, the state of Oklahoma has some of the most nuanced and rich historic architecture in the country. From the eclectic Victorian architecture of the late 19th century to the Craftsman and Art Deco styles of the early 20th century, and into the post-WWII suburban ranch style home, you’ll find any number of exquisite examples of distinct architectural styles in our state.

It’s only natural then that Oklahoma should have such a strong vision of preserving these culturally significant spaces and places. Here at Krittenbrink Architecture, we’re proud to play a part in the preservation and restoration movement with our work.

Historic Architecture Adds Value to Your Community

  • Preserving historic architecture provides a tangible link to Oklahoma’s past.
  • Spaces are reused, saving time, money, and materials.
  • Historic architecture attracts tourists.
  • Maintain the “spirit” of your community by preserving its culturally significant buildings.
  • Preservation and restoration projects are more environmentally friendly than tearing down and building a new structure.

It is the people of a place that make it what it is, and the buildings they construct are visual markers of their work. Indeed, the architecture of a place does as much to shape the culture of a community as the values behind them.

Maintaining a historic space, whether it’s a detailed restoration of the interior and exterior, or simply restoring the facade and renovating the interior, offers a way to connect with the past, while accounting for present and future needs.

What Makes a Building Historic?

Often when we work with our clients to preserve or restore their historic buildings, the first question we get is: “What makes this place historic?”

This is a seemingly simple question with a sometimes complex answer. Generally, our determinations are based on the same guidelines that the National Register of Historic Places uses.

Perhaps most importantly is the significance of a building. The structure must have played a role in the past in some way, or must clearly represent a unique moment in the past. At a glance, the significance of a historic space is defined as those buildings that:

  • Have a connection to an event or events that have changed our history in a significant way.
  • Are connected to the life of a significant individual or group in the past.
  • Are reflective of the unique characteristics of a certain type, period, or method of construction.
  • Have provided important insights, or could provide insights, about the past, be it history or prehistory.

Sometimes it is easier to identify these traits for some buildings than it is for others. In moments like those, it’s a good idea to keep other attributes in mind. For instance, to be considered historic, a property must meet an age threshold. Typically, a property must be at least 50 years old. Basically, the building must be old enough that historians, architects, or archaeologists must have an interest in studying it in some way.

While age is perhaps an obvious marker of historicity, it’s also important to consider the integrity of the building. To be considered historic by the NRHP and the Oklahoma State Historic Preservation Office, the building must be relatively unchanged. That means that the building’s character-defining features must be present. As an example, a Victorian-style home that still has it’s distinct towers, decorative trims on the inside and outside, and asymmetrical floor plan, then it’s features have been maintained. However, if these features have been modified, removed, or added to, its integrity may be considered compromised.

Restoration, Renovation, Remodeling - What’s the Difference?

Not every building will meet the State and Federal definitions of “historic,” but that doesn’t detract from the value of your home. It will, however, influence what your next steps are for caring for and maintaining the structure.

Terms like preservation, restoration, renovation, and remodeling are often used interchangeably by popular home-improvement shows and blogs. But the use of these terms is often incorrect. It’s important to understand what you’re trying to accomplish and use the correct terminology. Let’s explore what each of these processes detail.

Restoring a Historic Oklahoma Building

Of all of the historic building projects you can undertake, a restoration is often the most ambitious. Restoring a historic building involves returning the building to its original condition as closely as you can.

During restorations, extensive research is conducted before any work actually begins. In many cases, the renovation team will even look for details as minute as the original paint colors, specific types of materials, and what the original fixtures and features looked like. This process can be painstaking in some cases, especially if the original materials are hard to locate, or if replicas are not readily available.

However, if you’re not looking to completely restore the historic building, a renovation or remodel might be an appropriate choice that still maintains the historic look and feel of the space.

Renovating a Historic Oklahoma Building

In some cases, the building may be in usable shape already, or the owner does not want to do a complete restoration. In cases like these, a renovation may be a more appropriate course of action. Renovating a historic space is the process of fixing what’s already there or adding new components to it that make it more useful for present-day needs. Renovations can be paired with restorations, however. For example, the original layout and purpose of the building are maintained, but fixtures in the bathroom and office are updated with shower heads and electrical outlets.

Renovations are largely focused on the appearance of a space rather than its use. As such, it’s not uncommon to see renovations of historic homes that result in a building that looks exactly the same on the outside but looks much more modern on the inside. By renovating a historic building, you’re finding the middle ground between a detailed restoration and a comprehensive remodel.

Remodeling a Historic Oklahoma Building

Of the three processes, a remodel is perhaps the most dramatic. During a remodeling project, entire rooms, or the entire building itself, will be reimagined, repurposed, and refinished. These can be very involved projects and often result in a change to the structure of the building itself.

For some remodeling projects, the building itself can be expanded, walls may be torn out or put up, ceilings can be raised, and HVAC, electric, and plumbing systems may be updated or added. The scale of a remodel is the major factor that drives price. Typically, renovations are more expensive than restorations and renovations, especially if the building is missing many of the major components needed for modern use.

Why Maintain a Historic Building?

To say that rebuilding, restoring, or preserving a historic structure is a labor of love is something of an understatement. However, the end results are more satisfying than words can describe. So why put in all this time and effort rather than just put up a new building?

The truth is, all that hard work pays off and preserving and restoring historic structures result in a suite of benefits.

Historic Preservation Ties Communities Together

We’ve all experienced the weird sense of displacement that comes from walking through a model home community. In a neighborhood with freshly planted saplings, perfectly manicured lawns, and sparkling new paint, there’s a sense that something is missing.

Historic neighborhoods, however, feel as tied to the values of the community as the individuals who live in it. When people think of their hometowns, it’s often these historic homes that are the first to come to mind. Preserved buildings give a town its sense of identity, add that nostalgic feeling to the region, and give neighbors something to take pride in.

Historic Preservation Encourages Local Growth and Economic Advancement

The Advisory Council for Historic Preservation found that homes that are preserved to maintain their unique historic character have a noticeable impact on the local economy. Historic homes within preservation zones are highly desirable. The ACHP found that the home values of historic districts are higher than those without them.

Historic preservation projects do more than just help the local housing market, however. These projects offer increased opportunities for employment in the region. When you work with a local architectural firm during your historic preservation process, you’re putting that team to work alongside the myriad of local contractors and craftsmen you work with. Rather than simply spending money on new materials, you’re investing more into the actual people-power for completing the work.

Cities and towns with historic districts also benefit from increased tourist traffic. These districts are often part of the place-based economic development strategies of local governments. Protecting historic buildings and spaces keeps a steady stream of visitors coming to these areas and supporting nearby local businesses.

There are State and Federal Tax Breaks

While supporting the economic and cultural health of your community is reason enough, an added benefit of historic preservation is that it makes you eligible for various state and federal tax breaks.

If your structure has been deemed of historic significance by both the Oklahoma SHPO and the National Park Service, you are eligible for tax incentives that are designed to help you continue to preserve the structure. The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program encourages the private sector to rehabilitate and reuse historic buildings.

These tax credits are worth 20% of the preservation project’s qualified expenditures. However, these tax credits are only available if the structure is for incoming generating purposes. For those looking to preserve and restore a commercial space, this is simple to do. However, for those looking to preserve a residential space, it will have to be used as a rental or B&B property.

Oklahoma SHPO Requirements

After completing your historic restoration or preservation project, you can start the process of completing an architectural or historic survey. These surveys are a way for the SHPO to evaluate a property for the NRHP, identify properties that are eligible for placement on the National Historic Register, and help develop plans to protect and preserve these buildings into the future.

Your final project submission includes assets like identification forms, which outline where the property is and it’s Description of Significance. You’ll also need to include photos of the property, a map that shows the boundaries of the survey area and the proposed historic building or district. Maps should have accompanying GPS reports. A report and historic context should provide an idea of what the survey explored and examined and explain why the building is historically meaningful.

Krittenbrink Architecture: Trained in the Past, Primed for the Future

Any historic renovation or preservation project requires balance. Maintaining the unique character and spirit of the original architecture of the building while also offering everything needed for modern living can be challenging without the right guidance. That’s why it’s important to work with a professional architectural firm like Krittenbrink Architecture. Our team can provide you with the guidance, vision, and technical know-how you need for your historic preservation project.

Our firm has the unique ability to see the buildings unique history and bring it into the present while accounting for future needs. All of our work is compliant with the best practices of the U.S. Department of Interior guidelines.

The team at Krittenbrink Architecture knows that historic preservation projects are more sustainable for communities for both economic and environmental reasons. The existing infrastructure and materials are utilized, the generation of waste is limited, and the energy consumption of a space can be optimized. We believe our work revitalizes not just the building itself, but the community that it’s a part of as well. We take pride in our work and pour over every detail to create a reimagined space that maintains its historic context while meeting modern needs.

Offer the historic buildings in your community a new lease of life with our historic preservation and renovation services. Get started today by contacting us and scheduling a consultation. Together, we can develop an architectural strategy that honors the character-defining features of the building while preparing it for use in the 21st century.


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