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BIRMINGHAM HISTORIC DISTRICT

1900 Block of Bakewell
SURVEY METHODOLOGY: Each building was carefully surveyed at sidewalk level on foot, which enabled surveyors to closely assess the integrity of each house by viewing the major architectural elements up close. Each house was assessed for its original elements, specically porches, siding and windows. Significant buildings, such as churches, commercial buildings and trademark brick Hungarian houses were denoted on maps. The Integrity Rate - based on the three major elements - porches, siding and windows - are explained below. The rating, more empirical than scientific, was conducted for purposes of implementng some kind of "point system" for each property.

Porches. If original porch elements were intact, such as roof, wooden columns and open plan, the building was given a rating of "Original." If there were some degree of alteration, such as replacement of original columns with wrought iron, partial enclosure, etc, yet other original elements were intact, the building was usually given a rating of "Half-Original".
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Major alterations, such as complete enclosure, and loss of original columns and existence of historically inappropriate materials, such as pressure-treated lumber, resulted in the building's porch being classified as "Altered" Some considertion was given to early alterations, such as pre-WW II porch enclosures that add significance to the property even though these features were not original.

Results were then tabulated with 1 Point being assigned to "Original", a Point assigned to "Half-Original" and 0 Points assigned to "Altered."

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Siding. If original siding was, for the most part intact, the building received an "Original" rating. (Generally, the front or primary elevation(s) and most of the side elevations of properties must have original siding exposed to warrart this rating.) If part of the building had been sided, or contained early replacement material such as insulbrick or asbestos, a "Half-Original" rating was usually assigned. If most or all of the building has been covered with aluminum, vinyl, or other modern replacement siding , it was given an "Altered" rating.

The justification for assigning a point rating to houses clad in insulbrick and asbestos, is that these types of siding, although not original, were generally over fifty years old and therefore fit into the period of significance for the historic district of which runs from 1890 to 1950. (Typically, aluminum siding was installed on most houses after 1950 and vinyl siding was not readily available until the 1980s and therefore buildings clad in these materials were assigned an "Altered" rating for Siding). Also, especially in the case of insulbrick, the siding was relatively thin and did not diminish the "scale" of the siding in relation to the house as much as the much thicker and wider aluminum or vinyl siding. Futhermore, the more modern types of siding tended to cover up or result in the removal of significant elements - such as window hoods or brackets - while the earlier replacement sidings often left these items intact and exposed.

The age of the building was a factor however, in determining whether insulbrick or asbestos siding was worthy of a point rating. For example, asbestos siding on very early building types, such as pre-1900 Gabled Ell Queen Annes, were usually given a "Altered" rating, while assigned a "Half-Altered" rating on more recent types such as Bungalow and Foursquare. The basis for this is that the more modern houses probably contained the replacement siding for a longer period than their original clapboard siding.

Like porches, results were then tabulated with 1 Point being assigned to "Original", a point assigned to "Half-Original" and 0 points assigned to "Altered"

Windows. If virtually all of the original front and side elevations windows were intact, the building was given an "Original" rating for windows. (Rear windows were not assessed). If some of the windows were replaced with vinyl or other modern window type, it was usually assigned a "Half-Original" rating. If most or all of the original windows have been replaced, an "Altered" rating was usually assigned.

Window assessment can vary from house to house. For example, a house that has had not only vinyl windows installed, but they have been downsized as well, will usually receive an "Altered' rating, even if only the front elevation windows were replaced. The justification for this is that these windows have been so severely altered - material, size and configuration - that the integrity of the building has been severely compromised and should receive an "Altered" rating even though some less visible original windows may still be extant. Conversely, a house with some vinyl windows that fit the same openings and fit contain the same pane configuration (1/1, etc) retains enough integrity to warrant a Point

Results were then tabulated with 1 Point being assigned to "Original", a point assigned to "Half-Original" and 0 points assigned to "Altered."

Integrity Rate. After each house was rated, a rate of integrity was then calculated by adding the point values for the three major elements - porch, siding, windows - and dividing by three. The resulting figure is known as the "Integrity Rate."

In the example below, House #1 still has its original porch and windows, but half the siding has been altered in some way, or all the siding was replaced or covered up by some early replacement siding, namely insulbrick or asbestos. Thus the building received 2.5 total points or an integrity rate of 83.3% (2.5 Points divided by 3 possible points). House #2 has been altered to a greater degree - its porch and siding have been replaced or altered, and only the original windows remain. In this case, the property would only get 1 point out of a possible three or a rate of 33.3%.

Element RatingPoint
Value
Element RatingPoint
Value
Porch Original1Porch Half-Original .5
Siding Half-Original .5 Siding Altered 0
Windows Original 1 Windows Half-Original .5
TOTAL 2.5TOTAL1.0
INTEGRITY
RATE
.833INTEGRITY
RATE
.333

Integrity rates were then automatically calculated for each numbered block, each street, and the overall integrity rate for the historic district, enabling analysis at various levels - street, block, district, etc. The figure was calculated by adding up the number of original (and half-original) porches/siding/windows divided by three and then divided again by the number of houses. Below is a sample integrity rate for Bakewell Street, broken down by block.

Street Block Houses (H) Number/Percent Historic Porches (P) Siding (S) Windows (W) Integrity Rate ((P+S+W)/3)/H Bakewell 1900 8 6.5 7 7.5 87.5% Bakewell 2000 24 14.5 7.5 17.5 54.9% Bakewell 2100 21 14 7.5 18.5 63.5% Bakewell 2200 7 4 3 6 61.9% Bakewell 2300 34 17.5 8.5 24 49.0% TOTAL 94 56.5 33.5 73.5 58.0%

As the chart shows, for the 2100 block of Bakewell, the number of original (and half-original) porches adds up to 14, while the number of houses with original (or half-original) siding is 7 and 18.5 for windows. The overall integrity rate is 63.5% is derived by adding these three numbers (14+7.5+18.5)/3 = 13.3. 13.3 is then divided by the number of houses on the block (21) to derive at .634 which is converted to percent: 63.4%

As the chart shows, integrity rates varied greatly from block to block. The 1900 block of Bakewell, with a rating of .875 obviously contained a lot of 2 and 3 point houses while segments such as the 2000 and 2300 block had many more lower-point scoring houses. Also noteworthy is the fact that the Integrity Rate for Siding overall (33.3%) is much lower than porches (56.5%) or windows (73.5%), meaning that homeowners on this street, and Birmingham overall, have been historically much more likely to reside their houses than change the porches or replace windows. Factoring out half-altered houses such as those clad in insulbrick would result in an even lower Integrity Rate for siding.

Houses were then assigned a rating of "Contributing, or "Non-Contributing" based on integrity rate and other factors. (These same criteria were also assessed for each property in the original nomination but on a far more empirical basis.) Generally, the more alterations that a house has underwent, the increased likelihood that it will be labeled "Non-Contributing" However, because of the context of the original National Register nomination, based on ethnicity as opposed to architecture, most houses were considered to be contributing, even if all three major elements - porch, siding, windows - had been altered.
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As long as the basic footprint of the building is intact, and new windows match the original in size and shape, the property was, in most cases, still labeled contributing.

Generally, houses could be considered to be non-contributing, if they met any of the following criteria.

  • Severe alterations to windows, such as replacement material and downsizing or inappropriate pane configuration. E. G. Narrow, wooden double hung 1/1 windows replaced with downsized, vinyl windows with 6/1 grid windows.

  • Large inappropriate additions that compromise the integrity of scale of the original house. E. G. Adding an "Ell" onto a rectangular building, or adding a second story onto a one-story building.

  • Buildings built after 1950. This is expanded from the original cut-off date of 1942 for the Birmingham National Register Nomination, the justification being that buildings built up to 1950 are now fifty years old. (One or two "borderline" buildings, built as late as 1952 were listed as contributing if they fit it with the rest of the block in terms of size, scale and architecture.) Thus it is possible for a building may contain all of its original elements, but still be labeled non-contributing, because it was built after the period of significance.

  • Installation of vinyl or aluminum siding on early houses, such as Queen Anne, Italianate, etc. The integrity of these houses is especially diminished by the existence of these materials and they are generally more susceptible to extreme distortion of scale due to the thickness of this siding, especially aluminum siding. Furthermore, there was a tendancy on the part of the new siding installers to cover up or remove other important architectural features such as drip ledges and brackets. Other, more recent house types, such as Bungalow and Colonial Revival, had the ability to "absorb" replacement siding to a greater degree, especially those that had wide clapboard siding in the first place.

  • An older building may be labeled non-contributing even if it contains some original elements but other elements have been so severely altered that they severely diminish the integrity of the entire building, such as adding a second story, or "goiter" to a one story building. Such a house may still have all its original elements intact, but its scale is so severaly compromised by the addition, that it can no longer be considered to be a contributing element. In the case of Birmingham, there were only one or two properties that fell into this catagory.

    Once each structure was assigned a classification, data was then entered on Sanborn Maps of Birmingham with different colors corresponding to various levels of significance. Contributing structures that have underwent some alteration were assigned a yellow, while red was assigned to those contributing structures that are unaltered or in close to their original state. Orange was assigned to those structures that are significant to the neighborhood (e.g. churches, brick cottages, etc.) that may have underwent alteration but are still contributing. Non-contributing structures, which include those that are heavily altered or built after 1950 were shaded blue, while structures demolished after 1976 were shaded black. (The base maps were printed in 1976 so structures demolished before that date were not depicted, but are still counted in the final figures).

    Contributing Rates were then calculated two ways. The first "Contributing vs Non-Contributing" calculated the percentage of each of those catagories - demolitions were factored out. This enabled an analysis of just the existing buildings only. However, to avoid giving high marks to a block that has a lot of contrubuting elements, but also a significant number of demolitions, a second figure "" was calculated that factored in demolitions as a percentage against the number of contrubiting properties.

    In the chart below... Significant Properties. Significant properties were notes 1. One story brick veneered properties, built between ca 1895 and 1915. These are the trademark houses of the Birmingham neighbor hood and are found no where else in the city in such great numbers. 2. Frame dwelling in original condition 3. Commercial properties that historically housed Hungarian owned or operated business, during the period of significance. 2. After mapping all the data, each block was then analyzed by comparing the ratio of contrubuting buildings to non-contribting, number of demolitions and number of significant properties. Areas with high concentrations of Red and Orange with relatively little blue and black are considered to be most worthy for nomination as a new historic district. Marginal areas that contained little Red were only included if they were "landlocked" by surrounding blocks of higher integrity thus justifying the need to include these blocks also, rather than gerrymander around the block or have "islands" within the historic district.

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