This small, 1 1/2 story house in a hilly historic mining community in the West was built in 1891. The wood frame building with an L-plan features a prominent gable roof, a one-story porch across the facade, and two historic sheds at the rear. Photos: NPS files. National Park Service masthead and arrowhead with a link to ParkNet
REHAB NO, number 10: If it's highly visible from the street, DON'T put it on the roof!

no.10

::Index to "NO" issues::

left arrow If it's highly visible from the street, DON'T put it on the roof!

::issueFOCUS:: Installing skylights on a visible roof elevation

::go to REHAB YES'S::

[TOP IMAGE] Frame house in a hilly setting. NPS Photos.

The historic character...
This small, 1½ story house in a historic mining community in the West was built in 1891. The wood frame building with an L-plan features a prominent gable roof, a one-story porch across the facade, and two historic sheds at the rear. It faces south onto a major street—one block off the main business thoroughfare—in a neighborhood of similar small, vernacular houses.

...and how it was lost in the rehabilitation.
When the house was rehabilitated for continued use as a residence, multiple skylights were added in order to provide more light and ventilation. Three operable skylights were installed on the gable roof at the front of the house, with two more on the shed roof at the rear. Although all the new skylights had a flat profile, they substantially altered the historic character of the property, particularly when seen from the street. These seemingly small new features are visible in front of the building, and from several locations within the historic district, which is quite hilly. The addition of skylights on this house altered its historic character and, thus, did not meet Standards 2 and 9. Skylights, coupled with other roof alterations in the community, have begun to change the character of the entire district.

This view shows the additional skylights installed on the rear roof slopes.
More skylights on the visible rear slopes.

What should you know?
Property owners rehabilitating historic buildings often want to add skylights to permit light into historic interior spaces. This is especially true when previously unfinished spaces, such as attics, are converted into usable space. However, adding skylights may substantially change the appearance of a roof and, thus, fail to meet Standards 2 and 9. Buildings that have prominent roofs or highly visible roof elevations are usually not good candidates for skylights.

previous This final button in the program links to a listing of other historic preservation guidance from Technical Preservation Services.

 

When the house was rehabilitated for continued use as a residence, multiple skylights were added in order to provide more light and ventilation. Three operable skylights were installed on the gable roof at the front of the house, with two more on the shed roof at the rear.
Highly visible skylights on the gable roof in front.


Standards in Action

Standard 2: The historic character of a property shall be retained and preserved. The removal of historic materials or alteration of features and spaces that characterize a property shall be avoided.

Standard 9: New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment.

::go to the standards::