Ike and Historic Properties

The Texas Historical Commission is urging owners of historic properties to do their homework before they start repairing damage caused by Hurricane Ike. Jim Bell explains.

Officials at the historical commission say people who own damaged structures that have been designated as historic landmarks are required to contact the THC before making permanent repairs to the exteriors. THC Architecture Division Manager Stan Graves says people in a rush to fix their homes and buildings could damage their historic integrity.

"That's the biggest danger we see right now, is possibly unscrupulous contractors coming in and saying you've gotta remove all your wood floors, or you've gotta take down all your plaster walls, or, you know, we've gotta re-put siding on the house, or something." 

Graves says the THC needs to know, in advance, what kind of work needs to be done, and they'll work with owners to expedite the paperwork and make things happen as quickly as possible.

"Many of those things need to be carefully considered before they're done, and we'll be glad to provide technical assistance to anyone that owns a historic property that's concerned about whether or not they should remove historic materials from their building." 

Graves says many historic buildings are often "red-tagged" and demolished after a disaster because people don't understand what it means to be "red-tagged".

"That does not mean they should be torn down.  It just means that repairs need to be made, whether it's the electrical service needs to be inspected, the gas needs to be reconnected, or some structural work needs to be done to make the building safe for occupancy.  It's not a demolition order to have a red tag."

Graves says none of this means people can't do anything to their house after a storm.

"People can begin obviously drying out, cleaning out stuff, opening them up, ventilating them, getting wet carpeting and stuff up. Those are obvious things you don't have to call us about, but before any structural work is done we do need to be involved."

Graves says some public and private non-profit facilities could qualify for state assistance in making repairs. For more information visit the disaster relief website.

Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.