Santa Rosa is home to five distinct, and beautiful, historic districts. The well known ones are: Ridgway, McDonald, Cherry Street, St. Rose, and Railroad Square; each filled with stunning examples of Santa Rosa’s rich architectural heritage.
If you’re looking to purchase a home in one of these neighborhoods, you have your choice of some of the most beautiful examples homes in the styles of Gothic and Greek Revival, Queen Anne, Italianate, Stick/Eastlake, Craftsman, California Bungalow, and Spanish and Mission Revival.
It’s possible that the moment you find one of these homes, you’ll instantly fall in love and rush headlong into purchasing it. But, there are a few things to understand about what makes a historic district different than any other neighborhood, so you don’t get caught unprepared when you decide to renovate.
My home is in the historic Ridgway district, and my family and I had to spend close to ten years restoring the sweet little bungalow from almost three decades of neglect. These observations are a result of my own experiences as well as those of my neighbors.
The House Will Need Updating
The older a home is, the more carefully you should inspect the electrical and plumbing. The exterior may look well maintained, but if no one has updated the pipes since 1939, leaks are bound to happen.
Galvanized pipes were commonly used in the 1930s.
Exterior Updates Must Be Approved By The Historic Society
If you have an older home in a historic district, and try to get permits for exterior renovations, the city will refer you to the Historic Society before any permits are approved. Their goal is to make sure that the house is restored to the original specs. If you were planning on adding a bay window to this 1921 home – think again.
Vintage homes with stucco siding will often have areas that have broken or worn off. The Historic Society will make sure that your plans to replace/repair it means that it will look the way it did on the year it was built.
Even Interior Updates May Require Approval
Many older homes have fireplaces, or outdated heating systems. You’ll need to check with the city when updating any of these systems, and sometimes there will be specific requirements depending on the age of the home and building materials used.
The older the home, the worse – and more dangerous – the wiring may be. Even if it’s been ‘repaired’, it’s always best to get it professionally checked out.
The Smallest Improvements May Turn Into Bigger Projects
Because the materials that these homes are built from are so old, expect that a small project will suddenly get far larger than you anticipated.
This is what a simple drain repair turned into.
The Community in A Historic Neighborhood Is Very Tight-Knit
Dealing with old homes, and Historic Societies, may seem daunting at first. But, when it comes down to it, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences a homeowner can have; bringing an architectural treasure back to life. Also, the individuals who live in the neighborhood with you have all had to take care of many of these same problems, and they’re always happy to help.