IPA Blog

Retrofitting Historic Structures to Support Lifelong Communities

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

“Do we have to?” Attorney and Indiana Landmarks board member Greg Fehribach tells us that this is typically the first question asked about ADA compliance when rehabilitating a historic structure. That question is often followed by a search for building code exemptions for historic buildings. But with an increasing number of successful, accessible projects in historic buildings, the question is no longer, “do we have to,” but “why wouldn’t we?” Through their architecture and interior finishes, historic buildings offer a character seldom found in new construction. Rehabilitation offers a green alternative to demolition; and historic buildings enhance the quality of life by telling a community’s story.

At Indiana Landmarks, we use historic preservation to revitalize communities, reconnect us to our heritage and save meaningful places. As the largest private statewide preservation group in the United States, we have over 50 years of experience in converting underutilized and vacant structures into vibrant places to live and work. Partnering with Indiana Philanthropy Alliance helps us take our message to grantmakers working to improve their communities and present facts and guidance associated with retrofitting historic structures for lifelong communities.

Our vision for accessible historic buildings is shared by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. Through a scoring system that rewards adaptive use, neighborhood revitalization, and conversion of vacant, historic buildings, IHCDA’s rental housing tax credit program helps communities develop accessible, affordable housing. Recently-completed projects include the award-winning Romweber Flats in Greensburg—a historic furniture factory with wonderful amenities for residents, and Clark’s Crossing—a historic school conversion in Vincennes.

In addition to the Issue Brief on Retrofitting Historic Structures, Indiana Landmarks’ regional office staff is ready to provide technical assistance for historic building owners and community leaders. For a list of offices, visit our webpage at www.indianalandmarks.org.

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