Park City house, highly visible, deemed not to be historic
Park City’s Old Town panel on Wednesday indicated a house on Park Avenue close to Main Street is not historically significant, a step that sometimes portends a demolition even as the owner says such a move is not planned at the location.
The Historic Preservation Board voted 5-2 to recommend the house at 819 Park Ave. be removed from City Hall’s historic sites inventory. The inventory is a collection of old buildings and other sites deemed a part of Park City history. Locations listed on the inventory enjoy greater protection from demolitions.
Discussions about removing a location from the inventory sometimes are tense as property owners tangle with Park City’s influential preservation community. The talks about 819 Park Ave., though, did not become difficult even as the panel cast a split vote.
The Historic Preservation Board’s recommendation will be put before the Park City Council. The elected officials are not bound by the lower panel’s recommendation. The City Council is tentatively scheduled to consider the issue on May 3.
The house at 819 Park Ave. is located in a high-profile spot just off Main Street and close to the Town Lift. The red color makes it even more noticeable as drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians pass the location headed to or from Main Street or the surrounding Old Town neighborhood.
A property that is removed from the inventory of historic sites is eligible for demolition, one of the reasons why some other cases are watched more closely than 819 Park Ave. The Historic Preservation Board on Wednesday essentially found that the house had been altered over the decades to the point it should no longer be considered historic. City Hall staffers had recommended the Historic Preservation Board support the removal.
Staffers prepared a detailed rundown of the history of the location as part of a report drafted in anticipation of the meeting on Wednesday.
The building went up in 1941 or 1942, the research shows, describing that the location was remembered as a grocery store. The building became a house later in that decade.
The City Hall report says the couple Patrick and Grace McPolin owned the property between 1948 and 1962. The McPolin family played an important role in Park City’s history as the owners of the McPolin Farm and iconic white barn off what is now S.R. 224. The municipal government decades later acquired the McPolin Farm and barn from a different family in a conservation deal.
Staffers detailed a remodel in 1948 of 819 Park Ave. that “significantly altered the form of the original” front of the store. The remodel turned the building into a residence.
“Staff finds that this building form that emerged less than a decade after the building was constructed, borrowed from Post World War II housing styles popularized at the time of the” renovation.
Changes were made by different owners in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, the report says.
The report argues the building does not contribute to the historic Park City era stretching from the 1930s until the 1960s. That period was marked by the decline of the silver mining industry and the emergence of the ski industry. The opinion is based on the “drastic material changes that have deteriorated the building’s historic integrity,” the report says. It also notes the McPolin family did not live at the house as well as the changes to the structure since the family’s ownership, negating much of the association with the McPolins.
Douglas Stephens, the chair of the Historic Preservation Board, noted the change of the building from a commercial property to a residential one in his comments. He said the integrity of the historic architecture was lost when the conversion occurred. Stephens was one of the votes in favor of the recommendation for removal.
The 819 Park Ave. owner, Ron Whaley, refused to discuss details after the meeting.
“No plans for no plans,” he said, declining to provide further explanation.
A critic of a Park City workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in Old Town said he is considering an appeal of the Park City Planning Commission’s approval of the development.