A Few Column Inches About Plastic Columns ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Few Column Inches About Plastic Columns

A tempest in a teapot or a serious Annapolis issue? From various sources and players, CP hears bits and pieces about the ongoing fight brewing in the Historic District about plastic porch columns. It may very well be a more important conflict than meets the eye--or the touch of the finger(paper or plastic? wood or vinyl).

Not meaning to be coy, but if you don't know the background on this, don't expect me to explain. It's too...too complicated? Suffice it to say that another Historic District tiff threatens to blow up..or already has (in a lawsuit according to one source), this time over whether porch columns approved in wood but built out of synthetic materials can remain in the HD.

CP does not really care to get all involved in this issue but it seems that the local newspaper is not giving it the attention it deserves, but it's not my main area of concern and certainly not an area of expertise. I think the players in this debate should start their own blog, but while emails fly back and forth, native Annapolitan and architect Craig Purcell weighs in. Without any other suitable public forum, CP reluctantly takes this on and welcomes and invites other parties to write in with their own ideas or in response to Mr. Purcell:

Dear Annapoliscapitalpunishment.blogspot.com/

Please help your downtown from way over there in Eastport. Will you or your readers please weigh in on the plastic vs. authentic material debate going on in the National Landmark District. Please inform yourselves on this issue as this is important to the fundamental identity of your State Capital after which your blog is named. Many historic grandees have taken to advocating the use of plastic in place of wood downtown and have become dangerous to the long term goals of historic preservation in Annapolis.

St. Clair Wright most definitely would not have been amused.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has clearly weighed in on this issue and still these persons of historic eminence pursue their reckless course which will set a terrible precedent for Annapolis as the gold standard of historic preservation nationally. Their actions will undermine the authentic character of the town. The HPC has yet to fine anyone as far as I know & violators seem to be given the kid glove treatment. The Commission has the power and mandate (Article 66B) to have their rulings obeyed by issuing fines for every day the violations continue to exist and are out of compliance.


Craig Purcell, AIA, LEED

Purcell provides the below link for readers:

CP NOTE: What do you know? I write this "column" and the next thing you know, all these ads for columns--including fiberglass, start popping up here on the blog....so get your fiberglass columns while they are still hot...
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Regular Schmoe said...

It would seem to me that unless rot and high maintenence costs are of historic significance wood is unnecessary . If the appearance is that which is in need of preserving a simple test by commoners as to whether they can distinguish the two from one another should be performed.

I guess I am asking , " why is wood important to the HD ? "

Chuck said...

Craig's at it again. Please, Craig, no mas!

Craig Purcell said...

Paul thanks for posting this important, if arcane, debate for Annapolis!

Plastic & an historic replicated style of architecture hardly fosters civic beauty, strengthens the local economy or promotes the preservation and appreciation of sites, structures, and districts for the education and welfare of the residents of the State of Maryland as well as Annapolis.

The question remains why the HPC won't exercise their mandated powers of enforcement to request that the enforcing authority institute any of the remedies and penalties provided by law.


Craig Purcell, AIA, LEED

below are some of the germane portions of Article 66B which are part of the State enabling legislation that give "powers" to the HPC.

(starting at page 65) for readers:


[(b)] (C) The purpose of an ordinance or resolution adopted under this
24 [subtitle shall be] SUBTITLE IS TO:
25 (1) [To safeguard] SAFEGUARD the heritage of [the county or municipal
26 corporation] THE LOCAL JURISDICTION by preserving sites, structures, or districts
27 [therein] which reflect elements of cultural, social, economic, political, archeological,
28 or architectural history;
29 (2) [To stabilize] STABILIZE and improve THE property values of [such]
30 THOSE sites, structures, or districts;
31 (3) [To foster] FOSTER civic beauty;
32 (4) [To strengthen] STRENGTHEN the local economy; and
33 (5) [To promote] PROMOTE the preservation and appreciation of [the]
34 THOSE sites, structures, and districts for the education and welfare of the residents of
35 [the county or municipal corporation] EACH LOCAL JURISDICTION.

13 may request that the enforcing authority institute any of the remedies and penalties
14 provided by law for any violation of an ordinance or resolution adopted under this
15 subtitle. "

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