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Wrightsville Beach
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Commission considers replacement windows for historic property

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The windows of the Shore Acres Model Home, on Harbor Island, the historically designated property located at 121 Live Oak Drive, are in need of replacement. Property owner and former town alderman Bill Sisson said the windows are severely deteriorated, letting cold air into the house and making the matter urgent.

The Wrightsville Beach Historic Landmark Commission met Monday, Jan. 12 to discuss the best method and materials for replacing the windows while maintaining the historical value of the property.

“In dealing with the folks in Raleigh, one of the most important things in characterizing the historical value in terms of dollar value and historical value of the house is the doors and windows,” Vice Chairwoman Robin Spinks said.

The matter of contention between property owners Sisson and wife Joy Miller and the commission was the materials proposed to rebuild or replace the windows.

“You’re trying to make it livable at the lowest cost possible, and we’re trying to maintain the historic nature of it,” Spinks said.

Sisson and Miller proposed new windows framed by painted vinyl rather than wood. Miller said the cost of using wood-framed windows was astronomical, and vinyl was also more weather resistant.

“Our object is not to think about how much it costs, it’s to think about what the final product is,” Chairwoman Catharine O’Quinn said. Spinks pointed out owners of historic properties receive a tax break to help pay for such renovations.

In the interest of preserving historical properties in Wrightsville Beach, the commission uses a set of guidelines to determine the historical appropriateness of any proposed changes. The guidelines mandate any modifications match the design, color and other visual qualities of the original elements.

Spinks suggested, based on the guidelines, the windows should be rebuilt using wood and not vinyl. Although wood-framed windows might not comply with wind-load and energy conservation requirements, building inspector Bill Squires said historical properties don’t have to. It would be possible, then, to rebuild the wood-framed windows.

“Possible, but not practical,” he said. “You can get a vinyl window that looks like wood, and performs like a new window . . . but looking at it [you] won’t be able to tell the difference.”

The commission members decided to view a sample of the proposed vinyl material before making a decision. They plan to meet Sisson and Miller Thursday, Jan. 15 at the home.

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