According to the U. S. Department of the
Interior, National Park Service, Heritage Preservation Service,
historic photographs from the nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries offer ample precedent for the use of awnings on
windows, above storefronts and at entrances. Decisions on
particular projects must be based on the circumstances of
each building, but as a general rule, in restoration projects,
awnings are acceptable when the physical evidence or documented
research clearly shows they were once on the building and
the historic appearance is being accurately restored. In rehabilitation
projects, awnings may be acceptable when they do not negatively
affect the historic character of the building.
As "Interpreting the Standards Bulletin"
No. 86-079 makes clear, awnings can in some cases so impair
the historic character of a structure that denial of certification
may result. However, historic photographs of streetscapes
document a great profusion of awnings. Awnings of many sizes,
shapes, patterns and colors ranged from one building to the
next. Sometime more than one appeared on the same building.
While careful scrutiny of awnings is justifiably part of the
National Park Service review of tax act projects, care must
be exercised in this area not to substitute strictly personal
preferences for professional evaluations of historic character.
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