Category Archives: Historic

5 Minutes with Perspectus Architecture’s Historic Studio

May is National Preservation Month! To celebrate, team members from our historic studio share their insights to questions like: What is the purpose of historic preservation? Why should developers prioritize the reuse of old buildings? What are the biggest challenges facing historic preservation today?

Continue reading to learn answers to those questions and more, including a paranormal experience.


Elizabeth Corbin Murphy, FAIA
Principal

What role does technology play in preservation?


Alice Sloan, Associate AIA
Historic Preservation Specialist

How did you end up specializing in historic preservation?

My parents instilled a love of history in me from a very young age. I grew up vacationing in the southern United States touring historic sites and battlefields and developed an appreciation of historic homes in particular.

What is your historic place to visit?

What do you think is the purpose of historic preservation?

What can we learn from tragic burning of the Cathedral Notre Dame Paris?

Thorough documentation in the form of photographs and measured drawings is essential for our most significant buildings. 3-D laser scanning and photogrammetry should be utilized.


Brian Broadus, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Senior Project Director

How did you pick up the practice of architecture in historic preservation?

What is the project you’re most proud of?

What role does technology play in preservation?

What’s the most interesting story you uncovered about a project that you worked on?

An infirmary from 1858 led me into scientific literature surrounding the miasma theory of disease and taught me about Florence Nightingale and the origins of professional nursing.

I also bumped into the last known photograph of Edgar Allen Poe and the man who took it.

Last known photograph of Edgar Allen Poe photograph
Image courtesy of Brian Broadus, AIA

What are the biggest challenges in preservation today?


Sean Stewart
Interior Design, Preservation

What is the project you are most proud of and why?

What is your favorite historic place to visit?

What do you think is the purpose of historic preservation?

The purpose of Historical Preservation is to preserve sites, structures, or districts that had an impact on history. To me, it is the practice of preserving and rehabilitating old historic structures so that they are economically stable in today’s world.

Why should developers prioritize the reuse of old buildings?


Dalton Kline
Interior Design, Preservation

How did you end up specializing in historic preservation?

What is your favorite historic place to visit?

It’s a tie between New Orleans and the basement of any historic building. I love New Orleans because it is a true blending of dissimilar and potent cultures.

I love basements because they are often the last thing altered in a historic building. So, that means that they are often the closest thing to original left in a building. Basements are dirty, cold, damp and dark. It’s the absolute best place to go.

Have you ever had a paranormal experience working on a project?

What do you think is the purpose of historic preservation?

To preserve history to ensure the survival and growth of our heritage.

What is your vision for the future of the historic preservation movement?

Why should developers prioritize reuse of old buildings?

Because age is an asset, not a hindrance. Viewing age as a hindrance makes for terrible design and a disappointing life.

What can we learn from tragic burning of the Cathedral Notre Dame Paris?


Martha Ross, RA
Senior Project Director

What is your favorite historic place to visit?

Copenhagen as the city has maintained most of its historic fabric by re-purposing the interiors and by doing so has maintained the character of the city from the past but promoted the usefulness of the city for the present.

What is something new you learned this week?

A Johnson Glass House + a Wright Overhang + a 1960’s Fleischman school entrance does not = a compatible addition to a 1889-1922 building!

Why should developers prioritize the reuse of old buildings?

What can we learn from the tragic burning of the Cathedral Notre Dame Paris?

Wayne Agency Co. Building Awarded at Cleveland Restoration Society’s Celebration of Preservation

May 23, 2019 – The annual Celebration of Preservation awards took place at the beautifully restored Ohio Theater last night! The event, hosted by AIA Cleveland/Akron and the Cleveland Restoration Society, recognizes outstanding historic preservation projects throughout the region. Perspectus Historic Architecture and building owner Keith Saffles of Crooked River Holdings were honored with the “Main Street Rehabilitation” award for their work on the Wayne Agency Building in Cuyahoga Falls.

When the Wayne Agency Building was originally constructed in 1922, its prominent Front Street address positioned it right along the main artery of commerce for downtown Cuyahoga Falls. In the late 1970s, Front Street was converted into a pedestrian mall, and the building, along with the rest of the block, fell victim to vacancies as businesses flocked to increasingly popular indoor malls.

The historic rehabilitation of The Wayne Agency Building was only one component of a much larger community effort by the city of Cuyahoga Falls to stimulate economic development and bring new retail to the Downtown Historic District. Building owner Keith Saffles is committed to the growth of the city and has filled the building with local Cuyahoga Falls small-business tenants. The newly restored first floor retail spaces are currently occupied by the Yum Yum Sweet Shop, Pav’s Creamery and Good Co. Salon. The spaces on the upper floor are now home to a music school and various business offices.

The overwhelming success of the building’s restoration has inspired a cascade of restoration and redevelopment projects on historic Front Street, which has since been restored to its original use as the main thoroughfare of historic downtown Cuyahoga Falls.

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Adaptive Reuse: How Preserving Buildings of the Past Helps Preserve the Future

Historic preservation is itself, a practice of sustainability that benefits communities and our environment. The demolition of a building uses a lot of energy and releases large amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Additional energy is expelled during construction of a replacement facility.

On the flipside, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2016 report “The Greenest Building,” saving a historic building for adaptive reuse “almost always yields far fewer environmental impacts than new construction when comparing buildings of similar size and functionality.”

We can see sustainable adaptive reuse in action in the renovation of the historic Circleville High School in Circleville, Ohio. Built in 1916, the high school eventually become the Everts Hill Middle School. When Everts Hill Middle School relocated to a new facility in 2016, the century-old school sat empty and was almost torn down.

Photography by Todd Williams
The front exterior of the historic Circleville High School.
Photography by Todd Williams 
The historic high school was rehabilitated into Everts Hill affordable senior living apartments. The new complex is fully ADA accessible.
Photography by Todd Williams 
Detail above the front entrance.
Photography by Todd Williams  
The historic Circleville High School was built in 1916 and would continue to serve students for the next 100 years.
Photography by Todd Williams
The historic auditorium retains the original proscenium arch and now serves as the gathering area for families and parties.
Photography by Todd Williams
The exterior of the restored historic greenhouse original to the property.
Photography by Todd Williams
The interior of the restored historic greenhouse, original to the property.
Photography by Todd Williams
A view down one of the corridors. The original built-in lockers now function as tenant storage. The terrazzo flooring is also original to the corridors.
Photography by Todd Williams
Historic built-ins that were coat/backpack racks and teacher supply storage are now used for tenant storage.
Photography by Todd Williams
View inside a unit living space. Each unit is designed with open living spaces facing the historic windows, which provides ample natural light. The original slate boards were retained in each unit adding to the historic charm of the unit.
Photography by Todd Williams
View inside a unit living space. Each unit is designed with open living spaces facing the historic windows, which provides ample natural light. Plumbing for the kitchens and bathrooms are configured along the corridor wall.
Photography by Todd Williams
View inside a unit living space. Each unit is designed with open living spaces facing the historic windows, which provides ample natural light. Plumbing for the kitchens and bathrooms are configured along the corridor wall.
Photography by Todd Williams
Plumbing for the kitchens and bathrooms are configured along the corridor wall.
Photography by Todd Williams
View inside a unit bedroom.

The City of Circleville had a demolition contract for the property in place when our historic architecture team put them in contact with the developer, Woda Cooper Companies. Perspectus Historic Architecture, Chambers, Murphy & Burge Studio and Woda Cooper Companies worked together with the city to save the historic high school and rehabilitate it into an affordable senior living community by creative use of the land and existing facilities. The property is now known as Everts Hill Apartments.

“We’re able to place tenants into a building that was about to be torn down, that’s pretty amazing,” says Principal Elizabeth Corbin Murphy, FAIA, Perspectus Historic Architecture, Chambers, Murphy & Burge Studio. “That’s a victory for the city as well as for the developers.” Murphy also stresses that by saving the building from demolition, we have a measurably reduced carbon footprint.

Meeting Green Standards

The project was primarily funded by the developer’s private funding and through federal and state historic preservation tax credits. One of the chief funding sources comes from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, which will reward restoration housing projects that meet the sustainability standards outlined by the Enterprise Green Community program. The Enterprise Green Community program aligns “affordable housing project investment strategies with environmentally responsive building practices.” To qualify, the sustainable restoration must meet a certain number of points in a required and optional set of standards for certification.

Perspectus Historic Architecture, Chambers, Murphy & Burge Studio and Woda Cooper Companies worked closely to ensure the design of the new Everts Hill senior living community met all Enterprise Green Community certification requirements, even going above and beyond in certain areas, as a sustainable building. Some of the measures taken to meet green living standards include recycling above the required amount of post-industrial waste, using materials that are manufactured and transported from within 500 miles to reduce CO2 emissions associated with transportation, using low VOC materials, as well as efficient heating and cooling systems.

Everts Hill must additionally meet requirements that holistically benefit the health of the tenant through implementing universal design in which the design decision was made to make the building accessible and visitable, a completely non-smoking environment, connected to the community, and available to open space. Residents have access to half the original football field for outdoor leisure and the restoration preserved the historic configuration of the site.

Ultimately, earning Enterprise Green Community certification means the building will cost less to operate and maintain, use fewer resources and contain fewer toxic materials.

Cultural Sustainability

Historic restoration projects also achieve sustainability from a cultural perspective. The buildings are given a new use while the design must respect its past and its emotional ties with community members. The new Everts Hill complex is tied to the community, especially among the older community because they remember going to school there.

Many of the building’s unique features were restored and creatively incorporated to serve the building’s new function while also created to be distinctly reminiscent of the building’s original purpose.  Murphy explains that for a restoration architect, “the biggest challenge in these types of projects is that you want to save everything, and you want to restore everything. But you must remember that people are the clients, not the buildings. And that to make affordable housing, we have to be careful not to go overboard.”

The goal of the design was to maintain the charm of the historic high school, says Dalton Kline, Interior Designer, Perspectus Historic Architecture, Chambers, Murphy & Burge Studio. “We have design stylistically compatible apartments in this historic building.”

Old classrooms are now apartment units, complete with the original slate boards. New unit entry doors were reconstructed to resemble the classroom’s original doors. Plumbing and other apartment amenities were configured along the corridor wall with the living space along the windows, which were restored to their original size allowing for more natural light in the units.

The building features the original corridors and flooring. The historic auditorium retains the original proscenium arch and is now home to the complex’s gathering area for families and parties. At the rear of the historic high school, the original greenhouse that was converted to a fieldhouse has been reborn as a greenhouse for tenants. Also remaining are the corridors built-in lockers that currently serve as tenant storage.

Previously hidden by drop ceilings, contractors discovered the original skylights, that once again provide another source of natural light.

The existing cafeteria is reimagined as a café open to the public. Creating this space increases the quality of life and provides a community connection between the senior residents and the public.

When asked how the Everts Hill was received by the Circleville community, Murphy explained that during the construction phase of these historic adaptive reuse projects, people tend to be unsure since they’ve grown used to the building as part of the city’s landscape. “But once it opens and has a little life pumped back into it, everyone is thrilled.”

Historic preservation provides sustainability for our environment and our communities. Projects like Everts Hill Apartments at the historic Circleville High School demonstrate that preserving the past can go a long way towards preserving the future.

Cleveland Bishop Dedicates St. Sebastian Parish Historic Renovation


The $1 million restoration of St. Sebastian church in Akron, Ohio led by
Perspectus Historic Architecture: Chambers, Murphy & Burge Studio
is now complete. The restoration project marks the 90th anniversary of St. Sebastian Parish, established in 1928.

To kick off the celebration, Bishop Nelson Perez of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, celebrated Mass and the dedication of the restored church (c. 1960) on Saturday, June 30th. Joining Bishop Perez was the parish’s pastor, Father John Valencheck; pastor emeritus, Father William Karg; and parochial vicar, Father Anthony Simone.

Posted by Saint Sebastian Parish on Monday, July 2, 2018

The project included cleaning the carved and ashlar stone at the front façade all the way to the bell tower. The St. Sebastian shield just under the peak of the roof has been conserved, reviving its finishes and the gold trim was patched with new leaf. A new wheelchair ramp has been added to access the main entry.

The granite front steps are restored, and the plaza is expanded and repaved with porcelain pavers in a pattern that resembles the ceramic tile pattern at the church entry.

One of the most impressive parts of the project is the magnificent tesserae mosaic behind the altar. The tiles were cleaned, patched, replaced those that had fallen off, and the matrix restored. The lighting that shines on the mosaic was updated to show off its beauty.

St. Sebastian Parish Mosaic Close Up - Before

Posted by Saint Sebastian Parish on Thursday, June 14, 2018

The ornamental bronze and brass work on both the interior and exterior of the church was conserved with Renaissance wax to improve and protect its natural color.

Over 10,000 square-feet of terrazzo floor has been refinished.

All 113 pews and kneelers were taken offsite where the anachronistic finishes added throughout the years were stripped and the pews restored to their original finish.

The funds for the project were raised through St. Sebastian Parish’s capital campaign, “Cornerstone of our Faith,” launched last May.

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Perspectus Project Wins Award At Celebration of Preservation

Perspectus Project for City of Massillon Honored With Excellence in Preservation Education Award

May 23, 2018 – Perspectus Historic Architecture, Chambers, Murphy & Burge Studio, was recognized last night at the Celebration of Preservation hosted by AIA Cleveland and the Cleveland Restoration Society for their work on Design Guidelines for the Massillon Downtown Historic District. The project won the award for Excellence in Preservation Education.

Perspectus-Architecture-Massillon-Design-Guidelines

Principals Elizabeth Corbin Murphy, Larry Fischer, and Peter Bohan attended last night’s event. Design Guidelines provide citizens and property owners with the historical context of their community and illustrate the types of buildings that represent the city’s unique past and instill a sense of pride. The Guidelines highlight different types and styles of buildings found in the community and describe the historic values, influences, and features that are associated with each. Describing proper maintenance of historic materials, the Guidelines provide helpful information to property owners on metal work, brick and stone masonry, windows and doors, and roofing and rainwater systems.

For more on Design Guidelines, click here.