Thanks to Fred Leeson for sharing this fantastic news.

Preservationists are heartened by a recent Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals ruling that said owners of a building in the Alphabet Historic District of Northwest Portland could not replace wood windows with new vinyl substitutes without going through historic design review.

The Oct. 22 ruling affirmed a Portland city hearings officer who had ruled that owners of the Carlton Court building, a four-story apartment being converted to condominiums, should not have started installing vinyl windows without a historic review permit in 2007.

The owners contended on appeal that the wood sash windows were not listed in the National Register nomination’s statement of “significance” as “an attribute that contributes to the resource’s historic value” as defined by the Portland City Code.

However, both the hearings officer and LUBA said the National Register building “description” that listed the “primary window type is one-over-one, double hung wood sash” met the standards of the city code requiring historic design review.

“It has broader application than just the Portland City Code,” said Carrie Richter, a Portland lawyer and vice chair of the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission.  She said other local governments could rely on it as a precedent that a building’s “description” is a key ingredient in evaluating the historic “significance” of a building.

Tim Heron, a senior manager in the city’s Bureau of Development Services said other owners “have been waiting for the final answer out there” on the window issue.

In the Alphabet Historic District’s National Register listing, the Carlton Court is listed as a “secondary contributing” resource with “minor” alterations.  The listing’s description described the structure’s exterior, including walls, cornice, base, recessed entry and windows.  It also included alterations including a fire escape and exhaust vents added to some windows.

Under “significance,” the Register listing said, “This building is considered to be contributing within the district as a good example of a Classical style multi-family residence and is therefore significant as a part of the larger grouping of residential development that occurred in the Northwest neighborhood.”

Note that the City indicates there are other historic building owners wanting to swap out their windows too. We hope they’ll look at other options first.