Members of the Historic Review Board on Tuesday held fast to a relatively new policy and rejected two requests for the installation of metal roofs.
“This is a difficult topic for us,” HRB president Tim Trotter told Tamra Lamb, the owner of a home at 612 Dubois St., regarding her request for a corrugated metal roof. “But we’ve taken a stance on those pole-barn style metal roofs.”
In the last year, as more property owners within the city’s Historic District made requests for metal roofs, the HRB has, as Trotter said, “drawn a line in the sand” in regards to the kind of metal roofs it will allow.
No “sheet metal pole barn style” corrugated metal roofs have been approved, in favor of either a standing seam metal roof or a stamped metal, a product that is meant to resemble asphalt shingles.
But it’s tough, Trotter acknowledged, because so many homes in the Historic District already have the offending style. Some of them are the result of approval from previously-constituted boards or property owners who failed to seek permission at all.
Historic District guidelines have always frowned upon metal roofs, but many were approved nonetheless.
“People have done it,” Trotter said. “We hear all the time, ‘My neighbor has one like that’ or ‘There’s one two blocks away.’
“Some have gotten through, we know that.”
Lamb said she’s owned the home, one she uses as a rental property, for the last 15 years. It’s been empty for about a year, she said, but in exchange for rent the current tenant has offered to do the labor on replacing the roof.
The HRB urged her to look at other metal options, even naming a handful of local and regional contractors who could provide the kind of materials they were referencing.
And Trotter encouraged her to take two estimates and make a request to the Urban Enterprise Association for help through the group's Upgrade Vincennes, a kind of mini-grant program for homeowners within the district wanting to make exterior improvements.
“Let’s see if we can help you get this done,” Trotter told her.
The other request came from Jim Johnson, who owns multiple properties within the district.
He, too, was seeking permission to place a corrugated metal roof on a building he owns at 328 Hart St.
He was frustrated with the HRB’s decision as he’d already purchased $7,000 in material, he said.
“There are other houses that have them,” Johnson told the board. “Both homes on either side (of 328 Hart St.) have them.”
Still, the board held fast to its principles.
“I cannot say yes to your request because I’ve said no to everybody else,” Trotter said, “including Tamra just now.
“Part of what we’re working on here is to get better information out to Realtors, to contractors, to homeowners so that they know, when they have a house in the Historic District, there is a level of responsibility that goes with it.”
HRB member Elizabeth Dunn agreed.
“Metal roofs have always been frowned upon, they’ve never been (included) in our guidelines,” she said. “And at some point, you just have to stop.”
“Well, there sure are a lot of them,” Johnson said. “They’re all over the place.”
The HRB on Tuesday did, however, approve a request from Tony Burkhart, specifically for work to his home and office at 16 N. First St.
Burkhart and his wife, Natalie Burkhart, bought the historic property in 2005 and renovated it into their own home on the second floor and Burkhart Insurance Agency on its main floor.
Burkhart told the board they want to redo the rear of the building, especially seeing as how so many people see it now, what with the popularity of the Riverwalk and Food Trucks on the Wabash.
“We just want to clean up the back a little bit,” he said.
Burkhart’s plan is to replace the vinyl siding with clad siding — which will match the gate-style garage door on the front of the building — and replace the railing with a cable-style railing.
The decking, too, will be replaced.
“This will look really nice from a distance,” Trotter said. “From an aesthetic point of view, it’s all pretty neat.
“And your attention to historic preservation is always appreciated.”