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Thematic: Bungalow, Colonial Revival, Vernacular, Catalog House

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Concept of a Thematic District | Bungalow — Description | Bungalow — Architectural Overview |
Catalog — Description | Colonial Revival — Description | Colonial Revival — Architectural Overview

Concept of a Thematic District

The Joliet Historic Preservation Commission is accepting nominations for Local Thematic Districts, a variation of traditional Local Historic Districts.

Traditional Local Historic Districts have been based on geographical boundaries: e.g., all properties or structures on a particular block or in a recognized neighborhood such as St. Pats or the Cathedral Area. By contrast, a Local Thematic District includes properties or structures that are related to each other through a common theme, but which are not necessarily all located within a contiguous area. Thematic districts recognize notable properties or structures which as a group reflect significant influence upon the character or development of the City.

Local Thematic Districts can be based on architecture or on history. Architectural thematic districts might be established for Joliet’s considerable collection of American four-squares, Tudors, Dutch Colonials, or Bungalows. Historic thematic districts could be established for our Sears, Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalog homes, for canal workers’ cottages, railroad, and stone quarry workers’ homes. The criteria and guidelines will be slightly different for architectural and for historic thematic districts.

Designation and Regulation Procedures for a Local Thematic District
The nomination and approval process for a property or structure to be designated as part of a thematic district will be essentially the same as that for a stand-alone landmark. Each property or structure will have to be nominated on its own with its own set of nomination documents, although the JHPC might consider several sets of nominations as a group at the same time. The thematic district process will require indication of owner consent and acknowledgment of guidelines and need for a certificate of appropriateness for any exterior modifications from the owner of each property or structure at the time of nomination/designation. As with stand-alone landmark nominations, a 180-day time frame applies.

Guidelines for Architectural Thematic District Nominations
Nomination to an architectural thematic district requires that the property or structure conform to the following guidelines:

A property or structure nominated to an architectural thematic district must fit an architectural theme, such as Dutch Colonial, American Four-Square, Tudor, or Bungalow. Thus, the reason the property or structure is being nominated is its significance as a very good to excellent example of its architectural style.

Guidelines for Historic Thematic District Nominations

A property or structure nominated to a historic thematic district must fit the historic theme; for example, it must have been built as housing for canal workers. Documentation to that effect is essential and can involve original deeds, newspaper articles, documented recollections of original owners or their family members, etc.

Unlike buildings in architectural thematic districts, strict adherence to architectural standards, although desirable, is not required. Modifications over the years that have altered the original design and character of the building may be permitted, so long as the basic shape of the original building is still recognizable from the street. In other words, modifications to the original building may be permissible, but total demolition and replacement with an entirely new structure would not be. The extent of modifications deemed acceptable for eligibility in a historic thematic district will be determined by the JHPC on a case by case basis. As with all JHPC designations, final approval is by the Joliet City Council.

The property or structure must be at least 50 years old. The property should be in good standing with city ordinances and regulations. Owners must comply with all applicable building codes, city ordinances, and regulations. A structure that is not compliant must have a detailed plan and time frame to correct noncompliance or violations.

Additional Theme Categories for Architectural and Historic Thematic Districts
The JHPC welcomes suggestions for new categories for thematic districts. The basic requirements, whether for architectural or historic themes, are significance to Joliet’s development, and existence for at least fifty years. Please contact the JHPC with ideas or for further information.