Herndon staff recommends denying plan to demolish historic structures at funeral home

The Town of Herndon is considering a proposal to demolish two historic structures on the Adams-Green Funeral Home property.

At a Historic District Review Board work session yesterday (Wednesday), staff recommended denying the proposal to demolish a historic house at 724 Elden Street and and a historic carriage house near the primary house.

According to an application filed with the town in January 2020, there are no immediate plans to demolish the buildings and secure the site with fill dirt and grass.

“The applicant is not proposing any development or construction on this property at this time,” the application says.

In a Feb. 1 letter to the town, the applicant’s attorney, Michael O’Reilly, argued that it’s not practical or cost-effective to relocate the building — an effort that the applicant undertook when they previously relocated a building on the property in the early 2000s.

Both historic structures are located in the Herndon Historic District. They were built in the late 1800s by Charles Reed, a prominent member of the community at the time. His family also started the first funeral business in the town.

“The house is a classic and well-preserved example of the Folk Victorian residential architectural style,” the staff report said, stating that it retains much of its original structure despite alterations over the years. The carriage house on the lot is simpler in form.

Staff noted that the demolition of historic buildings in that area is strongly discouraged because it results in the permanent loss of the historical integrity of the district.

“Historic resources once removed are gone forever and create gaps in the fabric of historic neighborhoods,” the town said.

Staff also said the pair of historic buildings are in a particularly prominent location in the historic district and do not have any known damage or deterioration issues.

The applicant filed a demolition plan after an engineering analysis found that the building is “not a candidate for renovation and commercial reuse,” according to a report by Goughnour Engineering.

“The work to strengthen the structure and foundation and to meet fire code and accessibility requirements will result in the demolition and reconstruction of significant portions of the building to the extent that very little of the existing building will remain to be incorporated the new structure,” the O’Reilly wrote.

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