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Buying a Home in a Historic District

April 21, 2014 by Lois Szydlowski

Ok, so you decided to buy a home within a Historic District and of course it is registered with The National Register of Historic Places.   Because of this historical significance, your home has the potential for considerable rising property values.  And if continuity of neighbors is important to you, it is a fact that there is a lower turnover rate of homeowners that purchase within these districts.  Makes sense since you will be investing time, energy and expense to bring your home up to or maintain its historical significance.  This home means more to you perhaps than someone just purchasing a home to live in until the next job transfer comes along.  A more committed interest in your home and neighborhood of homes with community spirit is found within these neighborhoods.  If you are this type of person where history, meaning and preservation resonates with you, then this type of home purchase is for you.

Rules of Consideration
Image of a peaceful southern Home front porchThe National Register of Historical Places inclusion means this property has importance to not only your community but to the state and nation as a whole.  Do not be overwhelmed or anxious by this, there will be no infringement of your rights as a homeowner and ordinances are there for your protection so your neighbors follow the rules, as well.  As long as you do not receive any money, a license or permit from the Federal government to do any work on your home, you are under no obligation to restore the property or open it to the public.  However, before you purchase, it would be wise to visit the local planning and zoning office to see what guidelines are applicable to the home you are considering.

  • A zoning administrator may only do a surface evaluation or the home may require further exploration to determine the historic architectural compatibility.

  • You may need to secure a local permit from the historic review board to perform certain work.  This permit is called a Certificate of Appropriateness and applies only to the exterior of the home.  Rarely are you permitted to add footage to historic homes, including building up.

  • Some historic district, panel of members may require replacements that are integral to the original structure, balanced to make sure the money invested will hold for future resale.  Additionally, if replacing a roof, existing shutters or windows, you will have to preserve the integrity of the original.

  • If your property in consideration is an income producing one, you may be eligible for tax credits, grants or loans from the Federal Government or Preservation Organizations.

  • You can contact the Florida Historic Commission (FHC), founded in 2001 to protect our state’s historic sites.  Its members are responsible for reviewing applications for Preservation Grants and nominations to the National Register of Historic Places.  All members are experts in preservation fields, such as architectural historian, Professional Architectural historian, American History historian, pre-history archaeologist, specific historical archaeologist, as well as, 4 members from the general public with a sincere interest in preservation.

#1 Seminole Heights Historic District in Tampa, Florida is roughly bounded by Hanna Avenue to the north, Cherokee Avenue and I-275 to the east, Florida Avenue to the west, and Osborne Avenue to the south.  In addition to its status at the national level, this District is also recorded as a Local Historic District by the Tampa Architectural Review Commission.

There are 4 Local Historic Districts within the city of Tampa (more within Hillsborough County), and the Seminole Heights Historic District is #1 of two in Seminole Heights.  Local district boundaries cover the same area defined above but include approximately 26 additional historic buildings as well as an additional area just east of I-275 between Henry and Hillsborough—Miami and Taliaferro, where there are more than 28 structures there..

Most of the buildings within the Seminole Heights Residential Historic District are private homes, as well as a few public ones including Hillsborough High School and the United Methodist Church, known for their Gothic Revival Architecture.  The American Craftsman-style is found repeatedly in the area’s bungalows from the early 1900’s.  You will find this first historic district in Old Seminole Heights (1 of 3 divisions in Seminole Heights), as well as, the second national historic district in the Hampton Terrace Historic District.

#2 Hampton Terrace Historic District offers walking distance around its architecturally proud home styles from the 1920’s through the 1940’s.  Start at Nebraska Ave and Hanna Ave and travel east to 15th street and then all the way south to Hillsborough Blvd and back to Nebraska Ave and every home in between this area will show you every architecture style (except Prairie).

Currently since 2008, Hampton Terrace along with Seminole Heights have been working together to simplify redevelopment of its areas along with preservation within greater Seminole Heights.  You should familiarize yourself with Form-based Code which concerns itself with rezoning and variances for the good should you be rebuilding on existing land zoned differently.  These improvements will not only relieve residential property owners but encourage more commercial redevelopment as well.

If you like to live within a melting pot of people, then the Seminole Heights area is for you.  You will be encouraged to join porch parties, potlucks, annual home tours in spring and holiday time, bicycle clubs, groups for children, garden and river enthusiasts and more.  This thriving neighborhood of homes and businesses are all about community and its spirit shows in its people and homes.

#3 Hyde Park Historic District
Historic Hyde Park is the third Tampa National Historic District.  This lively popular district is roughly bounded by the Hillsborough River, Bayshore Blvd, Howard Ave and Kennedy Blvd with over 1250 buildings within where you can enjoy viewing Late Victorian, Queen Anne, English and Classical Revival homes from the late 19th and early 20th century and other early 20th century American architecture.  If you purchase a home here in the Historic area, you will have to follow the Hyde Park Design Guidelines along with the US Secretary of Standards for Rehabilitation if you are planning any new construction, additions to existing homes or exterior rehabbing.

#4 Tampa Heights Historic District is the fourth national historic district in the city of Tampa with its almost 300 buildings bounded by I-275 to the East, 7th Ave to the south, Adalee Street and North Tampa Ave.  Added to the Registry in 1995; you will enjoy an abundance of Queen Anne style homes as well as Craftsman Bungalows.

Other National Historic Districts within Hillsborough County (which Tampa is part of) are:

  • Downtown Plant City Historic Residential District:  With almost 100 buildings built around the turn of the 20th century, ¾ of them have historical interest.  Brick, Frame Revival homes are of significance here.  This downtown neighborhood was the first to be built before it sprawled out so it contains the largest concentration of residencies within Plant city

  • Ybor City Historic District:  Spans over 25 blocks with brick and frame residential and commercial properties that have retained their Victorian and Mediterranean Revival structures including some Wrought iron balconies.

  • Davis Island Historic District:  There are 22 buildings with Mediterranean Revival and Mission style predominating here that hold historical interest.  In the early 1920-30’s this Island was established as the fashionable residential area of Hyde Park with mostly large Mediterranean style homes.

  • West Tampa Historic District:  You will find row homes and a bungalow predominately looking like they did back in the early 1900’s, including the brick streets.

Please contact me directly for further information 813-323-4443 regarding more information before you decided to buy a Historic home.  I can guide you through the process before you invest your deep pockets.