|Exterior Architectural Elements
Most buildings will have elements that decorate the structure. This handbook will address those that are on the exterior. These features include, but are not limited to, decorated entrances around doors, porches and steps, and cornices. Small design details should not be underrated. Anyone doubting their importance should try shaving off their eyebrows.
Exterior Architectural Elements - Entrances
Entrances are often the focal point of a building's main elevation and their decorative elements usually define the architectural style. Decorated entrances may include sidelights, transom lights or fanlights, pilasters, and/or decorated pediments. Because these details are exposed to the elements, they can deteriorate from lack of maintenance and are sometimes replaced with inappropriate elements that compromise the building's original design.
Maintenance and Repair
1. Keep painted surfaces well painted and joints adequately sealed to prevent water infiltration and damage.
2. Avoid removing historic material from entrances. In addition, do not add materials that create a different historic appearance.
3. Avoid removing an entrance in the event a building is reoriented to accommodate a new use. In addition, do not add a new entrance to a primary elevation where it did not have one before.
Exterior Architectural Elements - Porches and Steps
Porches provide a transition between the exterior of a residential dwelling and its interior, and have traditionally been social gathering places. Their construction and decorative elements help to define a building's architectural style. As a consequence, retention of a porch is critical to the integrity of a historic building as well as to the Historic District as a whole.
Decorative porch details are exposed to the elements and are sometimes removed when they deteriorate from lack of maintenance. In some instances, decorative details are replaced with inappropriate materials such as columns from an earlier period of construction or suburban wrought iron supports. In extreme instances entire porches have been removed when the porch supports have begun to fail and sag. This action results in a substantial alteration of a building's historic appearance and can compromise the integrity of an entire block.
Types of Porches
Full-width, one-story porches are the most common type of porch in Fredericksburg. Their columns and decorative details vary according to their period of construction.
Side porches can be a continuation of the front porch or entirely separate. Some houses have a side porch and no front porch.
Porticos are generally small porches that cover the door but are not large enough to create an outdoor seating area. Porticos can also be two stories high.
Secondary porches may be one or two story porches and are generally located to the rear of the house. These porches are often closed in to provide additional interior living space. Sleeping porches fall into this category.
Maintenance and Repair
1. Inspect porches for signs of deterioration (rust, peeling paint, loose mortar, etc.). Repair elements that are damaged or loose, matching the detail of the original fabric. Avoid replacing an entire porch when repair and limited replacement is feasible. Rebuild porch supports, as necessary, to avoid losing the whole porch.
2. Keep painted surfaces well painted and joints adequately sealed to prevent water infiltration and damage.
3. Ensure water runs off porches rather than forming puddles on porch surfaces.
4. Porches should only be replaced when they are missing or beyond repair. Replacement should be based on physical evidence and photo documentation, as much as possible. Character defining front and side porches should be given more importance than utilitarian back porches.
5. Avoid removing historic material from porches. In addition, do not add materials that create a different historic appearance.
6. Avoid removing a porch in the event a building is reoriented to accommodate a new use. In addition, do not add a new porch to a primary elevation where one did not exist before.
7. Avoid enclosing porches on primary elevations. In addition, avoid enclosing important secondary porches in a manner that changes the building's historic character.
1. Porches should be included on new residential construction in an area of historic buildings with porches.
2. New porches should reflect the size, height, and materials of the porches on the existing buildings along the street.
Exterior Architectural Elements - Cornices
A cornice is the embellishment of the junction between the roof and the wall. It may also be used to cap windows, porches, and storefronts. On commercial buildings, it may consist of classical details or be a textured band within the wall material. On residential buildings, it may be a classical element or a type of eave. The style and articulation of the cornice help to define a building's architectural style.
Bracketed eaves consist of large scroll brackets that decorate the cornice.
Classical cornices are found on both commercial and residential buildings and consist of classical moldings and detailing.
Boxed eaves are a simple cornice treatment where the eaves of a pitched roof are boxed in with wood and have few other details.
Exposed eaves reveal the structure of the roof through exposed rafters.
Coping caps the top of a wall where there is no cornice. Materials can include concrete, stone, brick, or metal.
Decorative bands are used on some commercial buildings to express a cornice line.
Maintenance and Repair
1. Ensure that the cornice is well flashed and that all elements are well secured to each other and to the wall.
2. Ensure the cornice is kept well painted and joints adequately sealed to prevent water infiltration and damage.
3. Ensure that materials used to repair a cornice are compatible with the original materials.
4. Match the details of an existing original cornice when making repairs.
5. A cornice should only be replaced when it is missing or rotted or rusted beyond repair. Replacement should be based on physical evidence and photo documentation. Avoid changing the physical and visual characteristics of a cornice by using inappropriate materials or finishes that alter its appearance or convey a different period of construction. Avoid removing cornice elements.
6. If physical or photographic evidence is unavailable to guide cornice replacement, use a design that is compatible with the building.
1. New storefronts should incorporate a storefront cornice.
2. New cornice design and materials should complement those found in the Historic District.
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