HISTORIC DISTRICT GUIDELINES

Among the few complaints I have living in Armory Park is the obscure, complicated and uncertain process for obtaining historic review and approval of a project for repair or addition to my property. Information has not been readily available though in some cases helpful information does exist. A brochure published by our neighborhood association in 1990 is one such. While it can be very helpful for those unfamiliar with historic preservation, remember that these are guidelines while definitive direction can only come from city code or decisions by the appropriate city officials. Here is the information extracted from that brochure:

ARMORY PARK HISTORIC DISTRICT GUIDELINES FOR REMODELING, RENOVATION AND CONSTRUCTION

“ A fine old building is a special thing. It possesses qualities unmatched in new construction: qualities both tangible and intangible.

Such a building demonstrates that quality of design and craftsmanship knows no time limit. It brings a sense of comfort from awareness of the passage of time.

The house becomes a point of reference in . today’s rapidly changing society. Together with other buildings of other periods, it becomes a record of community development.

An old house, well maintained, is a source of pride not only for the owner but for the entire community.”

Quote courtesy of Tucson Preservation Primer, U of A College of Architecture, 1979.

HPZ Map
Historic Zone Map from Brochure

Consider these questions as you develop your proposed plans:

  1. Are exterior alterations and changes kept to a minimum?
  2. Do plans fit the structure’s original design?
  3. Do plans relate compatibly to the surroundings?
  4. Are changes visible from the street side(s) kept to a minimum?
  5. Are original building materials maintained and/or exposed?
  6. Are all materials appropriate to the building and to the neighborhood?
  7. Are the original sizes and shapes of window and door openings maintained?
  8. Are original and distinctive architectural details kept?
  9. Are traditional views unobstructed by proposed walls, fencing or landscaping?

Your participation in the design review process insures the preservation of the original architectural character for which Armory Park is known.

Cooperation and early dialog can frequently eliminate frustration stemming from the misinterpretation of the ordinance and review procedures.

The Armory Park Neighborhood was designated as Tucson’s first Historic District in 1976. A city zoning ordinance was written to preserve property values, provide for future development and to promote an awareness of the heritage of Tucson among both residents and visitors to the community.

The Armory Park Historic Zone Advisory Board was created by the ordinance to help preserve the historic character of the neighborhood by reviewing and encouraging good design. The Advisory Board consists of property owners, residents, and experts nominated by neighborhood residents and property owners and appointed by the Mayor and Council. The Board provides the resources, expertise, advice and guidance necessary to preserve the original appearance and intention of the homes and neighborhood setting of Armory Park.

All plans involving the construction of a new building or addition, or the modification, moving or demolition of existing structures within the Historic Zone must be reviewed by this board, and the Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission, and be approved by the Planning Director. 

GUIDELINES FOR ADDITIONS

  • Keep additions simple and appropriate in size, shape, material, color and detail.
  • Do not disturb the street side(s) of existing buildings.Place additions to the rear. This includes new rooms, porch steps and stairs.

WINDOWS AND DOORS

  • All windows and doors should conform to the original size, style and materials.
  • Maintain the original doors and windows and the size, shape and placement of openings.
  • Flush doors and sliding glass doors are not appropriate; do not use aluminium windows, doors or screen frames.
  • Security bars should be simple and not dominate the building. Bars should follow the lines of the window; bars should be mounted inside the window opening, rather than on the surface of the building.

MASONRY

  • Use the same or similar materials to repair or replace brick, stucco or stone. Match as closely as possible the color, texture and composition of the original.
  • Do not tise exposed concrete block as a substitute for brick or adobe.
  • If used for new construction, concrete block must be stuccoed. Color may be added to the stucco or it may be painted.

NEW CONSTRUCTION

  • New construction need not copy existing structures but should be compatible with surrounding historic buildings and streetscapes.

CHIMNEYS

  • Maintain original chimneys, even if unused.
  • If repairs are necessary, match original material, color, shape and brick pattern as closely as possible.

ROOFING

  • Alteration of the roof line is discouraged.
  • White roofing shingles are inappropriate.
  • Rolled roofing is discouraged on surfaces visible from the street.

PORCHES

  • Maintain original porches.
  • Retain as much of the original material and ornamentation as possible if repair is necessary.
  • Front porches should not be enclosed as rooms. If possible, such rooms should be removed and porches restored.
  • Do not use wrought iron columns, steel pipe columns or horizontal railings.

ARCHITECTURAL DETAIL

  • Do not remove original architectural detail: even the simplest details contribute to the character of your building.
  • If replacement is necessary, select details used on similar houses, and duplicate size, placement and quantity.

DEMOLITION

  • Historic structures, including garages, sheds and outbuildings should not be removed.
  • Buildings should not be allowed to deteriorate.
  • Proposed demolition requires review and approval of the Planning Director.

MECHANICAL EQUIPMENT

  • Swamp coolers, air conditioners, water heaters, metal turbine and roof vents, furnaces, electrical equipment, solar panels, catwalks, satellite dishes, disks and antennas, as well as skylights, should not be visible from the street.

FENCES

  • Walls and fences should be appropriate to the style and age of the house.
  • The height of your fence should not obstruct the public view of buildings.
  • Do not use chain link, unpainted redwood, rough cedar, stockade, post & rail or concrete block fences for the street side(s) of a property.

LANDSCAPING

  • Landscaping should respect the historic period of the neighborhood as well as the architectural style of the structure, and not obstruct the public view of the building.

PARKING

  • Locate off-street parking to the side or rear of the building, not in front.
  • Parking lots and commercial parking areas should be screened.

SIGNS

  • A sign should be compatible with its historic, setting.
  • Monument signs are inappropriate. 

Thanks to Kathleen Koopman for the original design of the attractive original brochure.

As more useful information becomes available regarding the historic review process, it will be published on these pages.

Caution: The brochure and its contents were not approved by the Mayor and Council so do not have the force of city law as does the official city code. It is, however, still a useful guide to historic preservation in Armory Park and to the likely thinking of the APHZAB as that body considers your proposed project. The above content was extracted verbatim from the brochure but could still have editing errors. I hope the information is helpful but the decision to rely on any part of this article is entirely the responsibility of the person contemplating a project.

Author: Ken Taylor

I am a relatively recent Armory Park resident (2/16) along with my wife, Donna and our little dog Lulu. In our 7+ decades, Donna and I lived over 30 years in Anchorage, Alaska before moving to Arizona. We have been Arizona residents for 16 years before coming here including 12 in Green Valley and four in west Tucson. We love the neighborhood for its history, walkability and interesting residents. Lulu insists on walking every day so you may see us following her around and picking up trash to keep our neighborhood presentable.

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