Minneapolis residents get crash course on less-restrictive Historic Conservation Districts

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The meeting was billed as a “visioning workshop” for Minneapolis residents interested in finding out what a Historic Conservation District might do for their neighborhoods. 

But before they got down to the business of “visioning,” they got a crash course in the difference between “Historic Conservation” and “Historic Preservation” districts from city planner John Smoley, who has a Ph.D. after his name.

In Historic Preservation, Smoley explained, the building materials are as important at the total structure. This means that if the house you own in a Historic Preservation District needs new windows, you can’t just go to Home Depot and buy some that resemble the originals. The rules would require that materials, design and craftsmanship match the originals.

He likened this process to restoring an autographed Babe Ruth baseball by replacing the old leather and stitching with new stuff and then duplicating the signature. The restored baseball might look great, but it is no longer historic or valuable — it’s just a baseball....

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