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Last Updated: Friday, February 3, 2012 11:30 AM


Exhibit 7.2 Ranking Character-Defining Features

Exhibit 7.2 PDF version here.

Caltrans guidance regarding the assessment and ranking of character-defining features (also called essential physical features or contributing elements) is based on the National Park Service publication, Preservation Brief 17: Architectural Character - Identifying the Visual Aspects of Historic Buildings as an Aid to Preserving Their Character, also a National Park Service publication. The guidance is also grounded in the guidance in National Register Bulletin 15. Contact the Built Environment Preservation Services Branch Chief in CCSO for additional guidance, copies of character-defining feature forms and assistance.

When projects affect historic properties, oftentimes it is necessary to determine which features are most important to preserve in order avoid or minimize harm, to develop appropriate mitigation measures, or to determine whether proposed rehabilitation, preservation, maintenance and other activities are consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s Treatment of Historic Properties. To guide proposed actions or changes to historic properties Caltrans, in consultation with SHPO, developed a system of ranking features based on a set of criteria.

Ranking Criteria

A. Craftsmanship

  • High: high artistic value, craftsmanship, design, materials
  • Medium: expected feature linked to contributing architectural style or method of construction
  • Low: standard historic fabric (commonly found during period of significance)

B. Conveying Significance

  • High: quintessential & Indispensable (without it the significance is lost)
  • Medium: Important (without it significance is diminished)
  • Low: Little effect but adverse effects could be cumulative

C. Public Benefit

  • High: public has the opportunity to use or enjoy with little or no effort (outdoor public space, feature or access, public building, etc.)
  • Medium: public has the opportunity to use or enjoy but with some effort (semi-public outdoor space, building or feature with occasional access)
  • Low: public has little or no opportunity to use or enjoy or (mostly private spaces)

D. Visibility and transparency

  • High: Primary, salient feature (e.g., something you can see from the street or public space)
  • Medium: Secondary, somewhat obscured (e.g., something you can see through doors and windows)
  • Low: Tertiary/obscured (e.g., private space that isn’t visible)

E. Integrity

  • High: Intact as designed/original
  • Medium: Somewhat altered but still conveys significance
  • Low: Substantially altered; no longer conveys significance

Point Range (Optional)

Assigning points to achieve a ranking usually is not necessary; however, there may be times when it is useful, such as when certain features may be borderline. Caltrans developed a point system that may be useful in these instances, but its use is discretionary.

Points in each of the above ranking criteria would be “high” equals 5 points, “medium” equals 2 points, and “low” equals 1 point. Total points for the combined ranking criteria are “high” equals 15 points, “medium” equals 10 points and “low” equals 5 points.

Total combined points for ranking character-defining features

  • 13-15 points: Most Significant (strongly conveys sense of time and place)
  • 9-12 points: Significant (conveys sense and place)
  • 5-8 points: Less significant (still conveys sense of time and place, but to a lesser degree)
  • Less than 5 points: Historic fabric, not character-defining feature

Properties Within Historic Districts

Before character-defining features can be identified and ranked for contributing properties within a historic district, it is first necessary to identify the character-defining features of the district itself because the district character-defining features serve as the framework for the contributing properties.

When determining the character-defining features for affected contributing building or structures, first look at the setting and environment for district features and note which environmental and landscape features are linked to the district (including spatial relationships, landscaping or vegetation, access points). Then look at all sides of the building or structure, noting its character-defining features. In most cases these features would be linked to the type, style or construction of the building or structure. Rear exteriors rarely are visible from the street or public access, nor do they have public benefit, so are rarely called out as character-defining features. If the rear of contributing buildings or structures are visible by public, for instance from streets, alleys, or public walkways, the rear sides may contain character-defining features.

Look at interior of the contributing buildings or structures for features that may be visible from the street or sidewalk and that would convey district significance. Interior spaces other than primary rooms generally will not convey district significance or appearance. Individually eligible buildings or structures that are also district contributors might have more interior character-defining features.

Within historic district, the character-defining features for contributing properties are linked to the character-defining features of the district. Often the features for the contributing property will rank higher for that specific property than they do for the district overall.

The contributing property’s character-defining features are specific to that particular property and how it conveys the district’s significance. So, the relative ranking – Most significant, Significant and Less Significant doesn’t always match up to the district’s CDF significance. Example: Side driveways & detached garages may be significant features in a historic district, but one of the most significant features in conveying how that particular house contributes to the district.

Criteria Matrix

Below is the set of criteria for ranking character-defining features in matrix form. It was used to identify and rank the features in the examples that follow.

Criteria Matrix for Ranking Character Defining Features*
  High = 3 points Medium = 2 points Low = 1 point
A. Craftsmanship High artistic value, craftsmanship, design, materials Expected feature linked to contributing architectural style or method of construction Standard historic fabric (commonly found during period of significance)
B. Conveying Significance Quintessential & Indispensable
(without it the significance is lost)
Important
(without it significance is diminished)
Low
(adverse effects could be cumulative)
C. Public Benefit High Medium Low (mostly private spaces)
D. Visibility and transparency Primary, salient feature (e.g., something you can see from the street or public space) Secondary, somewhat obscured (e.g., something you can see through doors and windows) Tertiary/obscured (e.g., private space that isn’t visible)
E. Integrity Intact as designed/original Somewhat altered but still conveys significance Substantially altered; no longer conveys significance
Total points in each category 15 points 10 points 5 points

Ranking
13 – 15 points = Most significant: Strongly conveys sense of time and place
9 – 12 points = Significant: Conveys sense of time and place
5 – 8 points = Less significant: Still conveys sense of time and place, but to lesser degree
< 5 points =   Historic fabric; not character-defining feature

Examples

The following examples include a property that is individually eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (National Register), a National Register eligible historic district and a contributing property within that historic district. As illustrated below, first it was necessary to identify property specific information, the qualifying National Register criteria, level and period of significance, boundaries and reasons why the historic property qualifies for the National Register. Based on this information, the architectural historians identified the features that convey the historic property’s significance and ranked them based on the matrix of criteria outlined above. Knowing what features convey significance and how strongly they convey significance will assist in assessing project effects, as well as to guide maintenance procedures and how the historic properties are treated, based on project effects.

Individually eligible historic property


(National Register eligibility information)

Historic Name J. G. Pierce House Date Determined Eligible/Listed 03/31/83 by Keeper
Location 911 Monterey Rd., South Pasadena Period of Significance 1910
Parcel Number 67109 Architectural Style: Craftsman
Criteria C Architect/Builder Unknown
Significance Level Local Date of Construction\ 1910
Summary of Significance Constructed in 1910, the J. G. Pierce House was determined eligible for the National Register as a good local example of builder-contractor architecture.
Boundaries Property boundaries of the parcel
X Individually Eligible Interior Character Defining Features? X Yes O No
O District Contributor (N/A) Final Disposition - Post Construction
    O Return to original site X Remain on site
    O Reconstruct O Relocate
    O Unknown at this time O Demolish

Individually eligible historic property

(Character-defining features and how they have been ranked)

Individually eligible Pierce House
Ranking Feature Number and Description A B C D E Total points
M 1 Two story simple, symmetrical box building form 3 3 3 3 3 15
M 2 Moderate pitch cross gable roof with open eaves, exposed rafters, projecting rafter tails, and brackets 3 3 3 3 3 15
M 3 Natural wood shingle wall cladding 3 3 3 3 3 15
M 4 Full width front porch with shingled column porch supports; scored concrete porch deck 3 3 3 3 3 15
M 5 Brick and rock chimney on eaves side of house 3 3 3 3 3 15
M 6 Vents in varying heights at gable peaks 3 3 3 3 3 15
M 7 Primary (north) façade main entry is large Craftsman style oak door with 3 lights 3 3 3 3 3 15
M 8 Primary (north) façade is symmetrical with a moderate transparency quotient 3 3 3 3 3 15
M 9 Primary (north) façade secondary doors are 1 pair and 2 single French style, with 5 lights each panel 3 3 3 3 3 15
M 10 Primary (north) façade windows:
Window A: One wood cased fixed single light (altered glazing in original frame)
Window B: Two pair of wood cased casement windows with 5 lights each panel
3 3 3 3 3 15
M 11 Secondary (west) elevation windows:
Window F: Two pair of wood cased casement windows with 2/1 lights
Window G: Two pair and one single wood cased casement window with 1 light each leaf
Window H: One triple wood cased casement window with 2/1 lights
Window I: One pair of wood cased awning windows with 4 lights each leaf
3 3 3 2 3 14
M 12 Secondary (east) elevation windows:
Window J: One paired wood cased double-hung wood sash window with 1/1 lights
Window K: One paired and two single wood cased casement windows with one light each leaf
Window L: Two wood cased casement windows with one light each leaf (flanking French doors)
Window M: Two sets of wood cased casement windows in a ribbon with 3 lights in 2/1 pattern each leaf
3 3 3 2 3 14
M 13 Mature street trees 3 2 3 3 3 14
M 14 Secondary (east) elevation main entry is a pair of French doors with 10 lights each leaf 3 2 3 2 3 13
M 15 Secondary (west) elevation main entry is a set of French doors with 5 lights each panel 3 2 3 2 3 13
M 16 Two balconies on primary (north) façade 2 2 3 3 3 13
M 17 Secondary (west) elevation is asymmetrical with a low transparency quotient 3 3 2 2 3 13
M 18 Secondary (east) elevation is asymmetrical with a moderate transparency quotient 3 3 2 2 3 13
M 19 Interior - Living room: Wide flat box beam ceiling, wide baseboard and wood frieze; dark stained wood; oversized pocket doors 3 3 2 2 3 13
M 20 Interior - Large inglenook: The volume of the space with bench seats, beveled windows flanking oversized brick fireplace with heavy mantel; dark tile floor 3 3 2 2 3 13
M 21 Interior - Dining room: wainscoting, bench seats, built-in buffet with beveled mirror & glazed cabinet doors 3 3 2 2 3 13
M 22 Interior – Library: Built-in bookcases with glazed doors and French door access to side driveway 3 3 2 2 3 13
S 23 Located mid-block on a medium-size lot 2 2 1 1 3 9
S 24 Rear (south) elevation windows:
Window O: Four pair and two single wood cased fixed and sliding sash windows with 3/3 lights (one is altered single light)
Window P: One pair and two single wood cased casement windows with 1 light each leaf
Window Q: One wood cased fixed window with 1/1 lights
Window R: One wood cased double-hung paired window with 1/1 lights with lambs tongues
2 2 1 1 3 9
S 25 Rear (south) elevation is asymmetrical with a moderate transparency quotient 2 2 1 1 2 8
S 26 Interior – Kitchen: Box beam ceiling, California cooler & pie safe 2 1 1 1 3 7

Eligible historic District


(National Register eligibility information)

Name of District Markham Place Historic District Date Determined Eligible 3/31/83
Criteria A, C Period of Significance 1887-1935
Significance Level Local # of Properties 70
# of Contributors 61 Number of Non Contributors 9
Summary of Significance Criterion A: community planning; criterion C: architecture. Dense concentration of residential buildings in a variety of styles, nearly all designed by noted architects before WWI; many of the houses were designed by Frederick L. Roehrig. Mature landscaping, period street furniture and park unify district.
District Boundaries City of Pasadena. Roughly bounded by Markham & Congress Places, Bellefontaine St., Pasadena & St. John Aves.

Eligible Historic District

(Character-defining features and how they have been ranked)

Eligible Markham Place Historic District
Ranking Character Defining Feature A B C D E Total points
Most significant Large, mostly two-story architect-designed homes (40 of the 61 contributors designed by noted and local architects) and the architectural features that define the particular architectural styles of the district.

3

3

3

3

5

15

Most significant Houses on S. Pasadena Ave. consistently have deeper setbacks and are built on elevated berms.

3

3

3

3

3

15
Most significant Roof height & type are consistent: mostly asymmetrical and gabled.

3

3

3

3

2

14

Most significant Open landscaping with high visibility into the homes through size and pattern of fenestration and doorways, plus Craftsman characteristic of blending interior and exterior spaces.

2

3

3

3

3

14

Most significant Cobblestone (river rock) retaining walls, pillars, porch piers and walls.

3

3

3

2

3

14

Most significant Planting strips have consistent setbacks, are bordered by early 20th century narrow scored sidewalks and contain evenly spaced street trees; trees vary from block to block.

2

3

3

3

3

14

Most significant Predominance of organic materials in buildings & structures (e.g. wood siding)

2

3

3

3

2

13

Most significant Consistent setbacks and lot size with houses oriented to the street.

2

3

2

3

3

13

Most significant Along S. St. John Ave. open porches form a consistent linear pattern (consistent and even porch openings).

2

3

3

3

2

13

Most significant Singer Park is major open space anchoring northwest corner of the district.

2

3

3

3

2

13

Most significant Street lights are the same on a given street, but vary from plain concrete aggregate poles with round globes, to fluted smooth concrete aggregate columns with simple capitals and round globes or acorn globes.

2

2

3

3

2

12

Most significant Rows of mature, slender palm trees along street frontage (early 20th century landscape planning element).

2

2

3

3

2

12

Most significant Side driveways lead to detached garages at the rear of the property. Some driveways are two-track with grass or pebble rock infill.

2

3

2

2

2

11

Most significant Mature landscaping features (yard trees, shrubs in banks and along facades, front lawns).

1

2

3

3

2

11

Significant Scattered low hedges ,open (picket, etc.) fences define property lines but do not obscure visibility.

1

2

2

3

2

10

Significant Pedestrian access includes footpaths from side driveways to front door and from sidewalk to front door.

1

1

2

2

2

8

Significant Street curbs are distinctive early 20th century concrete with deep, curved cuts at street intersections and driveways.

1

1

1

2

3

8

Contributing Property in Markham Place historic District

(National Register eligibility information)

Historic Name N/A Architectural Style Craftsman Bungalow
Address 650 S. St. John Ave., Pasadena Architect/Builder Edward C. Kent / W.C. Stevens
Parcel Number 48234 Date of Construction 1906
Name of District Markham Place Historic District Interior Character Defining Features? O Yes X No
O Individually Eligible Final Disposition - Post Construction
X District Contributor O Return to original site X Remain on site (possible part take)
    O Reconstruct O Relocate
    O Unknown at this time O Demolish

Contributing Property in Markham Place historic District

(Character-defining features and how they have been ranked)

Contributing Property in Markham Place Historic District
Ranking Character Defining Feature Corresponding District CDF#
M One and one-half story Craftsman residence located mid-block on medium-sized lot with setback that is consistent to the district 1,3,4,7,9
M Landscape features include mature street trees 4,12,14
M Complex, asymmetrical form with multiple moderately pitched intersecting gables 1,3
M Roof eaves are open with exposed rafters, large knee braces, and batten siding within the gable ends 1,3,7
M Two large window boxes with brackets and bracketed window overhangs 1,7,4
M Natural material of shingle siding 7
M Primary (west) façade is asymmetrical with moderate transparency quotient 1,4,7
M Primary (west) façade windows:
Window A: Two pairs of wood-cased casement windows with 6 lights each leaf and side surrounds
Window B: Four pairs of wood-cased casement windows with 6/1 lights in Craftsman pattern each leaf (set on first story, protrudes from façade)
1,4,7
S Side (south) elevation is asymmetrical with moderate transparency quotient 1,4,7
S Side (south) elevation main entry is an oversized door of quarter sawn oak, with original hardware and original screen door 1,4,7
S Side (south) elevation secondary entry is one pair of French doors with Craftsman-pattern lights 1,4,7
S Side (south) elevation windows:
Window F: One wood-cased fixed/double-hung/fixed bay window with 10/1-3/1-10/1 lights in Craftsman pattern
Window G: One wood-cased 3-part casement/fixed/casement windows with 8-1-8 lights in Craftsman pattern
Window H: One wood-cased 3-part casement window with a pair of casements at the center flanked by single casements, with 2/1 lights each pane in Craftsman pattern
Window I: One pair of wood-cased casement windows with 2/1 lights in Craftsman pattern
Window I-1: 4-light wood slider on sleeping porch
1,4,7
S Deck entry porch with wood rail on side (south) elevation 1,4,7
S Side (north) elevation is asymmetrical with low transparency quotient 1,4,7
S Two glazed and paneled Craftsman doors on the side (north) elevation 1,4,7
S Side (north) elevation windows:
Window J: Two pair of wood-cased casement windows with 6 lights each leaf
Window K: Four paired wood-cased casement windows with 2/1 lights each leaf in Craftsman pattern
Window L: One wood-cased triple fixed window with a single pane each leaf
Window M: One wood-cased casement window with 6 lights
Window N: Two pair of wood-cased casement windows with 2/1 lights each leaf in Craftsman pattern
Window N-1: Two openings on second sleeping porch
1,4,7